6 Simple Ways To Show Continued Support For Black-Owned Restaurants And Businesses
The Buy Black movement encourages people to buy from Black entrepreneurs in order to build wealth and success in Black communities—and it isn’t novel or new. But this summer, as Black Lives Matter gained more widespread support, so did the concept of buying Black. At the peak of anti-racism learning and unlearning efforts, many social media posts and articles about Black-owned businesses were being shared. You may have already started to see a drop-off in those, but continued support is vital to keeping Black companies and their founders afloat—especially after many were flooded with demand earlier this summer and the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
It starts by making the movement a priority. We spoke to Apollo Woods, the founder of OKC Black Eats, a marketing and consulting firm focused on aiding and uplifting Black-owned and -operated local businesses in the Oklahoma City area, for some tips. Here’s how you can keep support top of mind when shopping and dining out, plus some insight into why doing so can make a real impact.
Utilize apps, websites, and existing directories.
Many individuals and organizations have already dedicated time to finding Black-owned and -operated local businesses—and they’ve been at it for years. Let them guide you initially, as you continue to do your own research. EatOkra does this on a national level, with maps of restaurants near you. And it’s likely you have local resources that do the same. OKC Black Eats promotes businesses in innovative ways like this Bingo card.
Obviously you won’t be able to visit every single spot immediately following your search, but you can create your own list or map on your phone, highlighting cuisines or concepts that interest you. Then, when you’re sitting there trying not to order pizza from the same place for the millionth time, you’ll have a list of great local spots ready for the picking.
Follow people and brands on Instagram.
That restaurant you’ve been wanting to try—you know, the one you pass every day—might not be top of mind when your stomach growls and you’re 12 hours into a Netflix binge. Liking and following local businesses not only boosts their footprint but can help you remember a place long after you’ve eaten there or saw it recommended. Plus, filling your page with delicious dishes is never a bad thing!
“I think some ways that, individually, we could really show support for businesses—most people are online, they’re on their phone. They’re not really watching cable TV, their streaming services, but they’re on their phone,” Woods said. So follow, follow, follow (and like, like, like!).
Use your own social media accounts to spread the word.
If you eat at a great local place, be sure to snap a photo and post it on your Instagram or Facebook. It seems almost too easy, but it’s a great, simple way to get the word out. This is especially important, Woods pointed out, as some people may be nervous about dining out at new places amid COVID-19.
“That’s one way to let people know, one, that businesses is open; two, the food was great; three, if you were eating there, then you must feel comfortable enough to go dine or take out, which encourages others,” Woods said.
Leave (good!) reviews.
If you like a place, say so! Every good review counts because it can help inform others who are picking out a place to eat. Plus it helps boost that business in social media and other rankings when people are searching.
“I think the one thing that’s going to cost you very little time is taking pictures and giving reviews,” Woods said. “And that is the easiest way to do it. You go in, I’m going in with the intention of the one thing I can do to help is, if I can only afford $20 to feed me and another person today, if I’m going out to spend that $20, I’m going to take a picture, post a review, a positive review, about that experience. Let people know I had a great time, and the business owners were socially responsible. Support them.”
Plus, if you have a tendency to eat at a place and immediately forget the name of it, leaving reviews leaves a sort of trail of the wonderful places you’ve tried so you can visit them again.
Get others involved.
Let your friends and family know that you’re actively supporting Black-owned and -operated businesses and invite them to join you. Offer to be the one to pick up food, suggest Black-owned businesses when meeting up with friends, and recommend products to your family members. At the very least, you’ll be able to support businesses with bigger orders and you might be surprised by who is inspired to join you in your efforts to learn more.
Woods said over the past year or so, clients and friends have been more receptive to visiting Black-owned spots and letting him pick the spot when they go out to eat, even if it’s not in areas they frequent. One friend in particular who went with him to a Black-owned and -operated local restaurant loved it so much, he now goes there weekly.
That friend taught Woods the importance of actually taking people places, especially ones in areas that are systematically defunded or perceived to be dangerous. “When you have your own firsthand experiences, you realize, ‘It’s not what I thought, now I got a chance to experience something.'”
Understand why it’s important to continue support.
Calls to support Black-owned businesses were loudest this summer, but as time goes on and the COVID-19 pandemic continues, these businesses, which have systemically been shut out of traditional venues of support like loans, will continue to need your attention. This movement’s new momentum is in danger of becoming simply a trend for some, and now more than ever, these businesses need continued and sustained support.
“It is especially important because now Congress and the CARES Act seem to be very slow and non-responsive to what Black- and minority-owned restaurants specifically need,” Woods said.
If you’re new to Buying Black or focusing on local businesses, it may not come 100 percent naturally at first, especially when there is so much to focus on in 2020, but Woods reminded us that keeping it simple is the best way to sustain support.
“I think when you’re in the chaos of a pandemic, you forget about other things because you have so many things in your head going on,” Woods continued. “Some of the simple things you forget about. So we try to do our best of reminding people, ‘Hey, post a review.’ Or ‘Hey, you know what, if you’re going to eat something, support a locally-owned small business. Support a Black-owned and -operated business, support a locally-owned Hispanic restaurant or go to the Asian district. Support local, because the dollar hits the community right away, versus who knows what comes out of the state or the federal government.”
And Woods said that his organization and others who focus on Buying Black might get comments that doing so is “racist,” but he explained that “when you’re supporting a Black-owned business, you’re saying that I’m supporting this Black-owned business because they deserve the opportunities to be successful like every other business has.”
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