The Closure of Purchaseblack.com
Not long ago I qouted I quoted Purchaseblack.com founder Brian Williams on one of my motivational posts on instagram (@afroforyou) and on the homepage of this site.
The quote in particular is “If we spent 9 cents of our collective dollar with black-owned businesses we could employ every man, woman and child within the black community”
Just 9 cents! I later visited Brian Williams site and was saddened to read the following note on his homepage “This is Brian AM Williams, founder of Purchase Black LLC. It’s true, after 3 years of dedication to Black owned business, I have decided that PurchaseBlack.com will cease operations and close. So why close? As the business gained traction, I found that many drivers to reaching the real, true goal were significantly out of reach, given the level of resources needed to make it a reality.
I found that many of my assumptions about the market, potential partners & investors, customer preferences and more were just far enough out of reach to make closing PurchaseBlack a decision that makes more sense than staying open.Frankly, we simply don’t have enough businesses making enough things in the Black community that match the things Black people have expressed they want to buy. Black companies over-index in hair care, skin care, cosmetics, handmade jewelry & apparel, but grossly under-index in most other areas.
There’s the elephant in the room, and I have been living with it for years. Black people, simply, are not very motivated to support Black owned businesses. We see it as a “favor” sometimes, something that’s novel to do, but not apart of our cultural existance.
The above paragraphs are not the full text. I have selected the ones I believe were the hardest hitting. You can read the whole message by clicking www.purchaseblack.org and make a donation whilst the site is still active.
This is tragic but in some ways not surprising. Afterall, from doing my research, I have found out that the spending power of Afro-Americans has reached $1.2 trillion (2016 figures) but a dollar only circulates in the black community for about 6 hours as compared to 17 days in white communities!!
These are shameful statistics ands means that despite al our protestsing and demonstrating about economic inequality and injustice, ultimately we are major contributors to our own condition.
How can black people complain about a system that dis-enfranchises them but at the same time squander the very resources that is essential to building the infrastructure necessary to elevate the culture? It makes no sense whatsoever. If black people are not “making enough things in the Black community that match the things Black people have expressed they want to buy” then it's for that very reason.
Doing further research has also highlighted some concerns that we have about buying from black-owned outlets. The number one criticism is that customer service quality just isn't on par with other businesses outside our culture. Some people citing that they often wait too long before getting served, casual attitude to service, uncertain when they will receive goods ordered and in what condition or just that they feel that the quality of black goods are of a lower standard.
I would add that I've travelled many cities in the UK and abroad and for example no matter where I go I know if I'm hungry I will see a restaurant brand that I'm familiar with yet I can go to a black owned restaurant year after year and see no plan of a second one openeing up. This makes it inevitable that a substantial amount of our earnings will leave the community as it's not only food related products that this applies to.
Another factor is just how many of our famous brother and sisters promote non-black brands which has a tremendous influence on what black people value when it comes to spending. Wouldn't it be great to see all these people we look up to supporting a blackowned businesse on the red carpet or in a music video like LL Cool J did for FUBU back in the day?
What are the solutions? First we need to be more conscious about how we spend our money and do a bit of research on cyclical economics. We need to understand that working for other people and then simply given our money straight back to them is absurd.
We need to get pro-active and should locate and learn all the black-owned businesses in our area note what is lacking and either create those services or search online for them. There is an extraordinary number of Afro vendors online crying out for business selling everything from software products to real estate.
We need to change our habits asap because it's becoming apparent that we are running out of people to blame.