ATLANTA — From promoting historical Black figures to supporting Black entrepreneurship, vendors at the New Black Wall Street Market said the space is helping to close the minority income gap.
"We created a retail Mecca for the black business to operator, starting with art avenues that features over 135 different artists," said Lord Hester, a manager at the New Black Wall Street Market in Stonecrest.
The business, which opened two years ago, continues to thrive as an entertainment and retail destination to increase Black wealth and entrepreneurship.
"A lot of times people see this development, and they think it’s about real estate, but it’s really about growing and developing minority and woman-owned business," said Matthew Hampton, the organization's director.
The 130-plus retail space is inspired by 'Black Wall Street' in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was built to uplift and advance black ownership. Sadly it was destroyed in 1921 when an armed racist mob bombed and burned the city.
Locally, the effort to rebuild not only includes providing a brick-and-mortar space for selling items but also training.
"In our community, we’ve always had the talent, we’ve always been able to make great pies, create a great product, but so often we don’t know how to transform that into a real business enterprise, and that’s what the New Black Wall Street Market was designed to do,"
And for many of those retailers, that help has made a world of difference financially.
"We have made the most money than we ever had in that years," said Dr. Roni Shyaam, the owner of Kaba Kingdom LLC, which sells attire made of traditional African prints, adding, "; we’re not working alone, we’re working with other artisans here in the Black Wall Street which has excelled the business tremendously."
But during the past two years, there have been challenges at the New Black Wall Street Market, including keeping vendors still. Hampton says even that hasn’t been all bad.
"Probably four to five retail businesses started here, and they left because they started their own operations, so even some of our vacancy challenges are because of the success that we’ve had," added Hampton.
The new black Wall Street will be displayed on February 25 during an event called Conversations with Black America. It will not only include vendors but also organizations that will help promote black ownership and farming.