The Black Mall Helps Black-Owned Businesses Thrive

Cassiopeia Sledge created The Black Mall with her partner to provide a directory and marketing platform for Blackowned businesses. PHOTO PROVIDED BY MELANIE BROWN.

 The Black Mall Helps Black-Owned Businesses Thrive

By Tia Carol Jones

A directory and marketing agency aims to bring visibility and to promote Black-owned businesses. Cassiopeia Sledge created The Black Mall in 2011 when she was looking for a Black-owned restaurant in her neighborhood to support.
Sledge did find a Black-owned restaurant, but when she and her partner returned, the place was closed. It was something she noticed kept happening.
 She would find local gems and when she returned, they were closed. In speaking to Black-owned businesses, Sledge found those businesses were struggling and weren’t getting a lot of traffic coming in. Most of it boiled down to business owners not being able to afford the marketing, which would have brought more patrons into their establishments.

Sledge was working with an email list that she used to promote parties. She decided to use that list to promote Black-owned businesses, charging a nominal fee. It grew and there was such a demand that she and her partner created a directory, with more than 5,000 Black-owned businesses across the country.

Sledge said the goal of The Black Mall is to make the Black-owned businesses that are part of the directory household names by bringing them into the future. In addition to the directory and marketing agency, The Black Mall also provides business coaching and hosts marketplaces where Black-owned vendors are able to sell their goods.

“Our whole goal is to constantly be at the forefront and at the edge of what’s new that is happening. Before everybody else gets wind of it, we’re finding out what’s new and what’s going to propel us even further into the future,” Sledge said.

With finding out what’s new and innovative, The Black Mall also has a digital marketing platform and marketing software that promotes the Black-owned businesses and stabilizes them. The hope is that with these new tools the businesses will have the capacity to stay open and grow.

On the website, www.theblackmall.com, there are featured businesses. The Black Mall has moved toward hosting live marketplaces and the marketing software. With the marketing software, businesses have the ability to send out emails, SMS and phone communications, as well as social media and membership capabilities. It makes it cost effective and efficient for the small business owner. Sledge said while access to capital is an issue for Black business owners, having time to market their business is also a huge barrier to growth.

Sledge and The Black Mall are partnering with Macy’s in River Oaks Mall to host a Black History Month Celebration, with a Black-owned business marketplace. There will be 40 vendors in attendance who will be able to sell their goods. It is an opportunity for those business owners to leverage the natural traffic of the store and the mall and have their name connected to a nationally known retailer like Macy’s.

To choose which vendors are showcased in the live marketplaces, local Black-owned businesses have to apply. The Black Mall also reaches out to its 500 local vendors who are listed on the directory. The goal is to ensure that the marketplaces showcase a variety of vendors.

For more information, visit www.theblackmall.com.

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