“God is the greatest designer” is the resounding message in my heart at the close of the Tenth Street Historic District Vendor Certification class’s first pop-up market on April 26, 2014. The market was the first in a series of neighborhood markets with the bcWorkshop’s Activating Vacancy project. Creating this community-vendor market experience both, exceeded expectations and highlighted the true depth and need for such a development. While reviewing the event details with a mentor-friend, the Market Day’s issues and challenges were observed and documented in true Project Management ‘closing’ style . Of the 5 project phases, the “closing phase” of a project is one of the most valuable and, often, overlooked steps of a project. This final documentation and reflection on our sweat equity from the workshop period and the market day’s lessons exemplify that we, as a community, have all the good ingredients for healthy progress: a rich tradition and historic foundation, an intensely pressing and current needs list, and bright ideas with varied levels of skills for future development.
Again, I return to the phrase, “God is the greatest designer.” Building this event from the desires and passions of this dedicated group of producers and artists has been humbling and awesome. Their willingness to reveal their business strengths and weaknesses in workshop has created a foothold on development. Each vendor has, in turn, fed into the culture of knowing that the best made plans have to have a “go with the flow” clause. My father, Mr. William Crear, said it best when he said, “Put your mind on the goal. Your plans will have plans.” So true…
Ultimately, putting effort and energy towards a goal will, at minimum, give you really good stories to tell. So here are some of the highlights of the Vendor Certification class and the first pop-up market experience.
Market Day Prep and Vendor Training
- 30 local businesses registered for the Vendor Certification class
- Graduating participants completed a minimum of 20+ hours of business development and mobile vending training in preparation for neighborhood pop-up markets this spring and summer.
- Every Saturday and Monday for the month of March, vendors attended workshop and community study in core Tenth Street landmarks. (Lundy Recreation Center, Greater El Bethel Baptist Church, Show Hill and Benny’s ‘Island in the Hood 2′).
- Our Saturday sessions were usually from 12 – 4 and Mondays 5:30 – 8:30 PM.
- The local businesses ranged in levels from start-ups to established businesses.
- Work sessions were complimented by guest presentations (cantoinette studios and YW Financial Empowerment)
During the training period, it was a true honor to witness the small yet consistent strides the business participants made each week. Participants tackled the action check list by registering their business ‘assumed name’ (dba), getting business cards, setting up PayPal accounts and Square card reader accounts, signing up for the YW Financial Empowerment workshops and enrolling in IDA’s, designing and ordering vending signage, and building inventory . Yes!
In addition, we reviewed business topics such as basic accounting, product pricing, quality, customer care, and vendor style.
The Vendor class is a part of the Show Hill Biz team granted by the bcWorkshop Activating Vacancy Project. The team members are Vendor Certification Lead & Teacher, Tisha Crear; Market & Booth Design Lead, Benny Walker; Documentation and Marketing Lead, Tammy Gomez; and Show Hill Biz Project Manager, Iv Amenti.
The Plan’s Plan
Originally, as a part of the bcWorkshop Activating Vacancy grant, April 26 was the date set for the Show Hill Biz Market. Show Hill is a prime piece of land that sits vacant on 8th Street, up the block from Townview Magnet Center in Oak Cliff. Show Hill was once a thriving business hub for the community. The structures have since been removed and the land sits naked and readied for the expanding highway’s loop to cast shadow on the green field and bury into memory its once vital role. It’s a pretty significant piece of property in the narrative of the historic neighborhood’s business value. Show Hill is the perfect place to have a Pop-Up Neighborhood Market. Picture it: The hilltop lined with local vendors’ hand-made goods, encircling a performance stage poised in the center of the lot, with downtown Dallas beaming as the backdrop and the fast curve of 8th Street as the front porch, serenading out to the Tenth Street community. Uh, Yes!
…or, uh, no… Permission was not acquired for the April date. However, the team opted to keep the date and adjust the Show Hill Biz Market with a pop-up mini-market in conjunction with National Rebuilding Day planned in the neighborhood. Rebuilding America Dallas was setting up behind Greater El Bethel Baptist Church as the jump off point for their massive volunteer event. Perfect, a market collaboration event in the Greater El Bethel parking lot was in the works.
Rebuilding America hosted over 200 volunteers charged with renovating and improving properties in Tenth Street. Residents received new roofs, landscaping, painting and other structural repairs. We thought this day of community service was a perfect complement to the neighborhood market. Even though Show Hill stands as the ideal business tribute location, the tide had turned our market plans to the back doors of the Greater El Bethel Church. Greater El Bethel is also a significant location in Dallas history because it was built by William Sydney Pittman, the same architect of the Knights of Pythias Temple in Deep
Ellum among over a dozen Texas buildings. He was a practicing Black architect and the son-in-law of Booker T. Washington. And so the links and legacy of the Freedman’s Towns in Dallas extends itself onward…
Also, the Greater El Bethel parking lot was home to another Activating Vacancy project, ‘The Ark on Noah Street’ by Christopher Blay. During the Vendor Certification Saturday class sessions, Lundy Recreation Center would close at 2pm and class would often reconvene at the Ark in the church parking lot. It was a good excuse to take the short walk through the neighborhood into the cool pre-spring afternoons and literally ‘activate the vacancy’.
So, Greater El Bethel was the new location for our market day goal! A dozen of the class vendors signed up and a handful of guest vendors signed on. Iv Amenti, Benny Walker and I met with a Deacon from Greater El Bethel and liaison from Rebuilding America and we agreed upon a site plan and shared flow for the day. It went a lil something like this: Rebuild would set up in the parking lot by the Ark with registration tables, port-a-potties and trash bends; the Market would set up in the grassy area under a tree behind the church; Benny would erect an ‘L’ shaped market area made from wood fencing flanked with a series of tall wooden arch ‘fans’. (Think tall wooden palm frond sticks.); Culinary Vendors from class would make breakfast and assist the church in preparing lunch for the 200 + Rebuilding volunteers. Breakfast served at 7 AM; Vendor set-up at 9 AM ; Market opens at 11 AM. Perfect plan!
The Final 48 Hours
I tucked myself into bed the Thursday night before the market, knowing this would be my last full night of sleep until Saturday night. My to-do list and schedule was marked by the hour. Friday morning plans went something like: pick up items from Sam’s, pick up printing from Staples, go to work, check on Benny’s market building progress and then make final preparations for the next day. Typical hectic pre-event work flow day.
I started the day shopping for supplies with community powerhouse entrepreneur, Patricia Williams, affectionately called ‘Ms. Pat’ and owner of American Care Academy located off of I-35 in Tenth Street. She opened her kitchen for the volunteer breakfast prep and offered prayers to the success of the businesses, as well as, success for a healthy neighborhood in general. As we were loading the supplies from Sam’s, my phone rings with the message that I need to get down to the site. Benny is there attempting to begin the market set-up and there is a problem. When I arrive, the set of port-a-potties and a huge dumpster are not in the planned space in the huge parking lot. They are instead nestled under the little tree area behind the church that was designated for the market. (?) After some re-communication and a community member gathering the entities together for prayer, we all made peace with the changes and decided a new site plan: Instead of building the market with Benny’s design on the grassy area, the market would set up with tables in the parking lot by the ark and the event registration. Rebuilding would allow us to use some of their tables, chairs, and tents. And, the atmosphere would feel more unified because we would all share the parking lot. Great!
Food prep for breakfast began at 2 AM. Vendor Certification class member and culinary artist Kendall Ferguson and I were to make 250 breakfast tacos. We decided to make potato/v. chorizo and potato/spinach/mushroom. We met up at the American Care Academy kitchen at 5:30 AM; served breakfast at 7 AM with the help of Iv Amenti. We served breakfast tacos, sweet bread cookies, fresh fruit, coffee, orange juice and cucumber water. They gobbled it up!
The Vendors began arriving at 9 AM. By 10 AM, an associate pastor from the church informed me that we may not be able to have the market in the church parking lot AT ALL. Why? He would get back to me in 10 minutes… So, I took a lil break and went to my house ( I live maybe 3 mins drive from the church), washed breakfast prep layer off and got in gear for the market. Because the market was going to happen. That was the goal. The phone rang. We worked it out. The market opened according to schedule on April 26, 2014.
The vendors ended up circling the Ark, facing out to the community and it could not have been designed any better than that!
On the sunshine side of the Ark, Vendor Certification participants Jamila and Sarah Mendez, Kathy Aziz, Lynn Saahir, Stacey Johnson, Denise Smith-Ladd, Quineka Ragsdale and LaMetra Martin. In the shade, guest vendors and long-time friends/business associates Chandra Calloway of Mamamade (and vocalist with Mel Waiters), and Emotion Brown of Black Legend Heirloom. They were joined by local printing (since the 80’s) G3 Printing and Mrs. Linda Michello with her hand-painted items and art works from my favorite participant, the 84 year old artist, Rev Johnson. In addition, the market had surprise vendors in local celeb Shuckey Duckey and the rising star Michael Benjamin THE Kombucha Mane. And one last surprise was afforded when Isis of Naturally Isis and the Natural Hair Parade showed up with her Pop-up Beauty bar and worked some beautiful quick braid styles as we transitioned to close the market! Check out the pictures below!
photos by bcWorkshop, Iv amenti, William Crear, Lynn Saahir and Michael Benjamin
YOU ARE INVITED: The next Pop up MARKET is SATURDAY MAY 31, 2014 12 Noon behind Townview Magnet Center at Benny’s Island. Come and tour Historic Tenth Street and shop local hand made goods.
For more details or for vendor booth info please email susuVendor@gmail.com.