Featured photo: Erica S., owner of 7Made Gifts, traveled from Iowa to her hometown of Flint, Michigan and participated in Flint Small Business Saturday. Photos by L.M. Land.
By Tanya Terry
This year’s Flint Small Business Saturday was held at Word of Life Christian Church, on Atherton Road, where between 40-50 businesses were present on the largest shopping weekend of the year!
The types of businesses at the event ranged from health and wellness, fashion and accessories, food/beverage/desserts, a photo booth, to personalized gifts and more. The businesses at the event have backgrounds as unique as the event itself, which is continuing to grow and thrive.
Colette Conway co owns ReImage Books and Resource Room, which located inside the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village. George Conway Jr. is the other owner and is a licensed psychotherapist. According to Colette Conway, her brother had an increase of requests for services during the pandemic, but was full to capacity. People continued to ask for resources to help them make it through difficult times. So, George Conway started ordering mental health books and giving them to people who were requesting services.
“That’s how the book store came about,” said Colette Conway, who was a retail manager at a Family Christian Store for eight years herself.
The book store also features educational books, children’s books and a section for local authors.
“We just opened in June of this year,” Colette Conway explained, noting it was her first time having a table at Small Business Saturday.
“We came because now that we’re in the Sylvester Broome Center we want to get the books into the hands of parents so they can get their kids to start reading when they’re younger. This was an opportunity to let people know where we are, as a small business.”
Alexander Love, owner of Garden of Y.O.U.T.H., sells alkaline water. The Y.O.U.T.H. stands for You Only Understand True Health. The business was created about five years ago. He sold out of his product at the event. The product is available at 21 locations throughout the city.
According to Love, he wants to promote good health as he brings awareness of his product.
“We’re still in need of clean water in Flint,” he added.
Love noted his business was one of the vendors at Flint Small Business Saturday about three years ago. He pointed out the turnout was better and the venue was bigger this year.
“Definitely the aesthetic around the venue is much better. We’ve all grown together.”
Love called the 2021 event “monumental.”
Mayor Sheldon Neeley was also spotted buying items and talking to vendors at Flint Small Business Saturday, at Word of Life.
“I came to look at all these young entrepreneurs go to work and also to purchase some good items here, to support the efforts of what they’re doing and also to educate them about the city of Flint’s Economic Development Program-and to see if they want to engage in that program to grow their businesses,” Neeley said.
Neeley put the Economic Development Program into place to be able to execute upon more and more economic entrepreneurship inside the city of Flint. It is led by Khalfani Stephens.
Those who purchased from eight or more businesses at the event received a Small Biz Box full of products from various local businesses. A Digital Holiday Shopping Guide is also offered each year and could also qualify an individual for the Small Biz Box. The guide features over 100 local businesses.
Flint Small Business Saturday was started in 2017 by Ebonie Gipson, entrepreneurship expert and CEO of I’m Building Something Consulting, LLC. The business is a member of the American Express® Neighborhood Champion Program.
Gipson said it was great to have implementation for small businesses in the city of Flint.
“Our main focus is to service the city of Flint and its residents and its small business owners,” she said. “Small Business Saturday is an important initiative for all communities, and it is important to shop local during this season.”
Small Business Saturday was started in by Shop Small in partnership with American Express®.