Here's how to support Black women-owned Oakland businesses this holiday season

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Support Black women-owned Oakland businesses this holiday season
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For the Culture Market runs from Black Friday to Small Business Saturday with the goal of showcasing various Black women-owned businesses in Oakland.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- If you stop by Amber Washington's store, Freebird of California, you can buy customized leather goods that are locally sourced and handmade in Oakland.

"With shopping local, you are getting a lot more customization that you don't get elsewhere," she explains. When asked about price? "It's pretty fair for what you're getting. But it's pretty pricey," she answers with a laugh.

RELATED: Struggling Bay Area small businesses need your help to survive amid pandemic, Black Friday deals

The store has been open a year, and like many, she has relied on online sales during the pandemic.

Washington has lived and worked around the world, but decided to open shop in East Oakland, where she grew up.

"Focusing on small, local businesses and Black-owned businesses, is to build generational wealth within your community," she says.

She is one of the vendors participating in the two-day virtual event For the Culture Market, which runs from Black Friday to Small Business Saturday. Now in its fifth year, the goal is showcases various Black women-owned businesses in Oakland.

"It's going really well. Our goal is to hit a $100,000 in sales by the end of (Saturday). And I think we are going to blow that number out of the water," says Hope Lehman, one of the event organizers.

Lehman says buying from Black businesses this holiday season is "crucial" because she estimates about half of all Black-owned business have closed due to the pandemic.

"Half of all our businesses shutting down means that our Black wealth is disappearing. It's being demolished. And some of the communities we are talking about, it's an extinction," she says.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf says there has been a "re-awakening" around racial injustice following this summer's Black Lives Matter protests. She believes one way to heal is to shop at one of city's many Black-owned businesses, which the city is promoting through the website

"You don't have to go to Amazon to get your gifts delivered. You can shop local and get the convenience of online shopping," says Mayor Schaaf. "Now you can put your money where your values are."

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