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Black-Owned Business Expo held in NWA

Saturday, August 20, Black Owned NWA held its semi-annual "Black-Owned Business Expo" at Theatre Squared, helping Black business owners gain more exposure.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — August is national 'Black Business Month' and in an effort to help increase the lifetime of the 'Black dollar' within the Black community, which Black Owned NWA says is only six hours, the lowest amount of time compared to other racial communities.  Black Owned NWA hosted its semi-annual "Black-Owned Business Expo," increasing the visibility of Black businesses and attempting to build generational wealth.

Saturday, Theatre Squared was busy with hundreds filling the area. The outside was surrounded by food trucks creating heavy foot traffic inside, where you could find just about anything.

"I'm selling 24k gold-covered candles," said Whitney King, owner of Candles by Whitney "All natural made with soy wax handmade."

Yvonne Stewart promoted her event staffing company, Bohemian Geeks. "We do everything, we provide bartenders, waitstaff," Stewart said. "Everything you need for an event behind the scenes."

The three floors of TheatreSquared were full of Black-owned businesses. From masseuses, therapists, food trucks, and apparel and clothing companies.

"This is so needed because so many people come together," Ronlisha Nichols, owner of Vonshai's Custom Apparel and More. "What we do is customize everything."

Her company customizes everything from shirts, mugs, rugs, hats and more.

"You name it, we can do it for you," Nichols said.

Each business had a story to it as did the business owners.

J is the owner of Taco Virgo. Their name is just one letter. However, to describe her personality you'd need to use the whole alphabet.

"Lindsey it was lovely to meet you, I would hug you but I'm not touching people right now," J said while laughing with a customer. Instead of physically touching people, J touches people's hearts and taste buds.

"This is my contribution to the world and Northwest Arkansas," J said.

J is from Little Rock but calls NWA her second home.

"I came up here for school and just kind of hung around," J said.

In 2020, J lost their job, a silver lining they didn't know she needed.

"I opened up April 9, 2020," J said. They now have another job and run Taco Virgo as a side hustle. Thankful for events like the "Black-Owned Business Expo."

Giving Black businesses who usually aren't seen, a front seat at the table.

"We are booked into 2024," Stewart said.

"I couldn't have started this business anywhere else," King said.

Organizers say many of the business owners in the expo can't afford a commercial property yet, so this event offers entrepreneurs exposure.

Organizers will host this event again in February.

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