Albany Resident Launches Local Black-Owned Business Directory

ALBANY — From black sheep and the black market to blackmail and blackball, the English language is chock-full of terms in which the word “black” evokes a negative connotation.

Albany native Randall Moore is seeking to change the narrative with his business, 518 Blacklist, a comprehensive directory of Black-owned businesses in the Capital Region.

“When you think of the word ‘blacklist,’ you think of a person set aside in their own little corner, not being allowed to be a part of something,” he explained. “We want to take that and create a positive influence with those who are maybe set aside, those businesses who may be overlooked or who don’t get the proper clientele that they need or deserve.”

After the pandemic hit and small businesses nationwide struggled to make ends meet, the entrepreneur began asking himself how he could support business owners in his community navigate the post-pandemic economy. 

Thus, 518 Blacklist was born.

Launched earlier this month, the online platform was created as a one-stop shop for those looking to support local Black-owned businesses. There are currently 344 businesses listed on the directory, from hair salons and massage parlors to counseling services and restaurants and everything in between.

It’s free for businesses to have a basic listing on the website, which includes a brief description, contact information and website, but those who want to take it up a notch can pay for a membership plan that unlocks more customization. A standard membership plan costs $120 per year and allows customers to bulk up their listing with videos, a longer description, social media handles and photos.

The premium plan currently comes with a $240 price tag annually, covering the cost of business development services that include commercial printing for business cards or stationery, website design, uniform apparel, social media management and logo rebrands. These services are offered through the platform’s mother company, Imprint Universe, a custom apparel and promotional printing business headquartered in downtown Albany.

“You can advertise your business to the public but on the back end, we help you with all types of business services to help you grow your brand to make sure you get the full impact,” Moore, business manager for Imprint Universe, said. “We just want to help people boost their business and help the business community thrive in general.”

In addition to the online platform, the business will be printing a Black-owned business catalog annually and distributing it throughout the Capital Region, with advertising pages available to members only at prices dependent on placement and size.

While the website caters to Black entrepreneurs and business owners, Moore said they offer sponsorship advertising for other businesses that want to advertise while supporting the service in its early stages. A section of the website is also devoted to a calendar of events happening in the Capital Region, including art festivals, concerts, sporting events and workshops. Businesses and organizations can submit an event to post on the schedule for free.

For Moore, the venture is a way to signal to other Black entrepreneurs that they are not alone. Instead, he hopes the platform will provide community members with a much-needed network of like-minded professionals that they can leverage for support.

“A lot of people don’t have a network, they don’t have anybody they can lean on for business resources, and so we’ve pulled everybody together because that’s what makes a network stronger: when you have a healthy soul you can lean on,” he said. “When I can’t do something and I can turn to someone who can and vice versa.” 

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