The Black Wall Street on Roosevelt pop-up outdoor market is returning to a lot in North Lawndale, at 3708 W. Roosevelt Rd., starting June 4 and it’s still looking for vendors. Like last year, the market will take place every Saturday, from noon to 6 p.m., until Sept. 10.
Cosmetologist and real estate investor LaVern Herron, who also operates the Vision Start-Up Studios beauty and fashion business incubator next door, said that she wanted to support local businesses and make it easier for North Lawndale residents to keep their money circulating in the community. She said that, in the first year, the market had an average of 20 vendors and around 500 customers each Saturday and she hopes to build on that success this year.
Herron said she grew up in East Garfield Park, near the community’s border with North Lawndale, and has been a cosmetologist for 17 years. She bought the land that will become home to the market in 2020. During the summer, as workers cleared out the trash and debris, she set up a stand selling corn and lemonade.
“When I was out there, I had an overwhelming feeling that I wanted more businesses there with me,” Herron said.
She thought about all the vacant storefronts along Roosevelt Road, how many businesses in the area that are not owned by local residents and how there are many types of businesses that simply don’t operate in the community, forcing the residents to spend their money elsewhere.
“We just never had adequate food sources or adequate information, or even adequate businesses in the community, so we can’t keep the money in the community,” Herron said.
And she thought about Greenwood, a Black community in Tulsa, Okla. that was known as the “Black Wall Street” in the early 20th century because of its thriving business corridor. It was burned to the ground by white mobs in the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.
With the 100th anniversary of the massacre in 2021, Herron decided to turn the now-cleared, paved lot into an outdoor market that would pay homage to Greenwood and support the community by strengthening the local business ecosystem.
“My goal is for us to recycle our information, recycle our money and start to grow the community by spending the money in the community and having our businesses in the community, and start rebuilding,” she said.
“My ultimate goal is to have Roosevelt [Road] filled with commercial spaces of all kinds — restaurants, bars, shopping centers and, of course, grocery stores. So my goal is really for [the Black community] to take over Roosevelt with new businesses.”
The market can accommodate up to 30 vendors. The fee is $100 for food vendors and $85 for other types of vendors. They are also looking for performers and artists.
“We’re looking for vendors and we’re looking for any kind of talent, because we want to make this about art and fashion,” Herron said.
To sign up as a vendor, call Herron at (708) 505-2045 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about the market, visit its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Blackwallstreet60624.