$1.4 million generated for Black businesses during this summer’s Downtown festivals


Marshall: Always been a goal ‘to create economic impact for Black Pittsburghers’

Three of the top event weekends for African Americans in Pittsburgh this year—Juneteenth, the Black Music Festival and Soul Food Festival—generated $1.4 million for the small Black businesses that lined the streets as vendors, according to an Oct. 25 report from Stop the Violence Pittsburgh (STVP). The organization is responsible for putting the three events together each year in Pittsburgh. It’s the first report of its kind from the organization, which, according to its founder, William Marshall, should be applauded by city leaders, those in the non-profit and corporate sector, and all residents of the city.

“With the majority of Black Pittsburghers living in poverty or from paycheck-to-paycheck, with our festival events it is our goal, among other things, to create an economic impact for Black Pittsburghers,” Marshall said in a release sent to the New Pittsburgh Courier, Oct. 25.

The Economic Impact Survey Report, as it’s called, gave the many ven dors a chance to provide ballpark financial figures on how much was made during the events, subtracted by how much was spent during the events. No vendors provided their names on the surveys.

As an example, a business that was listed as “jewelry and accessories” participated in all the days for the Soul Food Festival, held at Market Square, Sept. 2-4. The small Black business said it spent $500 to prepare for the festival, but took in $2,250 in revenue, for a profit of $1,750. The Soul Food Festival provided the Black business an “opportunity to engage new potential customers,” according to the unnamed business, only classified as Survey No. 5.

Another Black business, Survey No. 6 and listed as “clothing and food,” was a vendor for all three festivals, about a week and a half worth of total days. The business said it spent $3,000 on preparation for the events, but made $5,200 ($1,800 from Juneteenth, $400 from the Black Music Festival, $3,000 from the Soul Food Festival). That gave the business a profit of $2,200.

In the Black business classified as Survey No. 10, and listed as “handmade crafts,” the business spent $500 in preparation but had a revenue of $1,800, for a $1,300 profit. This business was a vendor for two days of Juneteenth and two days of the Soul Food Festival. And the Black business said on the survey that “I made an additional $200 from selling items after the events.”


A Black business that will definitely be a vendor next year at the STVP events is the business from Survey No. 35. Listed as a “food truck,” the Black business reported it spent $3,000 on all three events, but made a whopping $8,000 from Juneteenth, $5,200 from the Black Music Festival and $9,000 from the Soul Food Festival. That Black business took home a $19,200 profit.

While most of the Black vendors secured a profit, there were a few that came out on the negative side.

As all three events have grown, there has been a concerted effort to give Black businesses a comprehensive learning experience as they participate in the events. There were a set of “Vendor Orientation Seminars” held for the small businesses who wanted to participate in the summer STVP events. With the help of the Riverside Center for Innovation and Dollar Bank, about 70 small businesses received information on how to apply to become a vendor, the cost of vending and preparation, how to apply for a Kiva no-interest loan to purchase inventory, how to register a business with the state of Pennsylvania, and how to follow COVID protocols. These seminars were held on March 8 and 10, and April 10.

With the knowledge in the mind, it was time to make some money. Nearly 150 small businesses were participants at Juneteenth, the Black Music Festival and the Soul Food Festival. The report found that during the three-day Juneteenth Celebration (June 17-19, Point State Park, Market Square), the 12 craft vendors brought in an estimated total revenue of $37,173. The 60 retail vendors brought in an estimated $243,078. And the 32 food vendors took in an estimated $325,500, for an estimated total of $605,751 in revenue.

For the four-day Black Music Festival (July 14-17, Point State Park), the five craft vendors brought in an estimated $9,150. The 37 retail vendors brought in an estimated $155,080. And the 26 food vendors took in an estimated $187,100, for an estimated total of $351,330 in revenue.

And for the three-day Soul Food Festival (Sept. 2-4), the five craft vendors took in an estimated $24,500 in revenue. The 27 retail vendors brought in an estimated $115,985, and the 34 food vendors brought in an estimated $316,060, for an estimated total of $456,545 in revenue.

The combined revenues from the three events totaled an estimated $1,413,626 in revenues for the vendors, the vast majority of whom were small Black businesses.

“VisitPITTSBURGH is a proud partner of Stop the Violence Pittsburgh,” said a spokesperson from VisitPITTSBURGH, to the Courier on Oct. 25. “It was our privilege to serve on the 2022 Western Pennsylvania Juneteenth Welcoming Committee and to witness the hard work put in by William Marshall and his team as they collaborate to bring visitors into our region and provide economic opportunities for small business vendors.”



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