Edmonton’s first Black-Owned Market saw a massive outpouring of community support Saturday.
The event featured Black business owners and creators gathered in one area so people in the city could connect with Edmonton vendors they might not otherwise have stumbled across.
“We want everybody to really come,” said Rochelle Ignacio, co-organizer of BOM YEG. “We want the Black community, and then the wider Edmonton community to come.
“It’s really a connection piece for vendors to be established with new target customers for them.”
The BOM YEG event was planned after a sister group hosted a similar market in Calgary on July 18. Ignacio said Sunday that the Edmonton event was planned entirely by volunteers and that the local community rallied over a period of just a few weeks to get the market going.
“We actually had an outpour of community support — as far as people donating tents, chairs, people giving donations — so we could afford to even put on the market,” she said.
On Sunday afternoon, lineups for the market stretched around the block at the Habesha African Market, which played host to the event.
Sara Awatta, the owner of Oonsie Boutique, was one of the featured vendors at the event Sunday.
“A lot of community rallied around us, so it’s nice,” Awatta said. “I love it.
“It’s nice bringing people together and showcasing local talent that otherwise you wouldn’t have seen.”
Awatta said that she started her boutique in February — right before the COVID-19 pandemic led to widespread closures. However, she said that Edmontonians have continued to be supportive of her through the crisis.
“Sales have been increasing, so that was very surprising,” she said. “And again, the Edmonton community really rallies around entrepreneurs.”
The next date for BOM YEG event hasn’t been set in stone yet — but Ignacio said there will “definitely” be more markets planned going forward.
“I’m so happy that people are here to support this,” Ignacio said.