Local entrepreneurs are adding a unique twist to Small Business Saturday at the Westgate Mall with a series of holiday pop-up shops in partnership with a business advocacy group, Black Owned Brockton.
"We have supported over 150 businesses and entrepreneurs from Brockton. The businesses motivate each other almost daily. It's like a family. It's nice to see," said Shaleah Gilmer, founder of Black Owned Brockton.
Twenty-five vendor tables lined up, waiting for customers to pour in and spend money on their products - selling everything from hand-poured luxury candles to clothing, natural body care products and bags.
As in past years, the Downtown Taunton Foundation and Downtown Taunton Business Improvement District will also be doing a Small Business Saturday event.
"This year we will be promoting our downtown businesses via social media per their Small Business Saturday specials and promotions," said Eileen Kelleher, program manager, in an email.
Joseph Olaniyan owns one of those vibrant downtown Taunton businesses.
Olaniyan, owner of The Barber Zone in downtown Taunton, said he'd like to see state and local government better coordinate their efforts to support small businesses.
"They have to find a way to revitalize downtown Taunton," said Olaniyan. "This is the face of the city."
Olaniyan's business model is to provide starting barbers (and, eventually, beauty stylists) a chair and a place to build their own clientele at his 14 Broadway storefront. At the moment, only three of his chairs are occupied, and that's including his own. Six stand empty.
A barber himself and teacher of the craft, Olaniyan said support from the federal Small Business Administration and from his bankers at Citizens Bank have helped him stay open through the pandemic. He didn't want to disclose his rent.
The bow-tied Olaniyan started his first business when he was just 17 years old in his native Lagos, Nigeria. That city, known for the non-stop hustle of its entrepreneurial residents, was home to Olaniyan's "New Kings Barber Shop."
Since then, Olaniyan's drive has taken him to the Bronx, Boston and Taunton. It's in the Silver City where he's put down roots, marrying Christine Olaniyan, a Taunton native and Taunton High School graduate.
While Olaniyan remains bullish about the city and his barber incubator, he would like people to have more reasons to come downtown. A bus stop, for instance, or bringing the Registry of Motor Vehicles back downtown from Washington Street on the outskirts of what most folks would call downtown.
Over in Brockton, Riana Bastien, owner of "Shop Ririz," is one of the vendors selling creative holiday gifts at the Holiday Market at Westgate Mall.
The local brand sells "melanated tote bags" with prominent black figures displayed on the bag as a treat for Small Business Saturday.
Bastien will also include a BOGO sale but is still working on the final details. Her eight-piece collection was featured on Shein, a popular international e-commerce website, a few months ago after being selected by the company.
Bastien started the business her senior year of college at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston in 2021, creating bonnets that protect your hair as your sleep.
The business made a substantial profit, and she continued to expand. Shop Ririz offers colorful silk bonnets, headbands and durags.
"This is my fourth event with Black Owned Brockton. It's an honor to be here and work with them. A lot of people should come down for Small Business Saturday and check us out. We will be here every weekend to Christmas Eve," Bastien said.
If you're looking for a simple but elegant stocking stuffer, Janica Marcelle Collection, a luxury candle brand, can brighten anyone's Christmas.
Janica Pierre, the owner, offers four collections to choose from with dozens of colorful and unique candles that will fill any room with expensive smelling fragrances at a pocket-friendly price.
"Our ingredients are rare, sourced globally, and have fine fragrance quality. Each ingredient contributes to an exclusively unique fragrance that is far above and beyond that of typical department store candles," Pierre said.
Pierre remembers walking into the Westgate Mall as a kid on Black Friday with the feeling of butterflies from the excitement of shopping with her family.
"It's an ah-ha moment, a full circle of coming into the mall as a kid. I never really thought I would ever have a business to sell in the mall. I am now coming here in my 30s with a business. It's just wow to see where I have come and seen the progression I've made," Pierre said.
The Holiday Market, which kicked of on Nov. 19, will rotate vendors every weekend through Christmas Eve. Small Business Saturday's shopping hours are from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27.
This article originally appeared on The Taunton Daily Gazette: Taunton Small Business Saturday: retailers gear of for shopping day