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I attended a Village Market ATL event for the first time this summer and was honestly a little overwhelmed by it all. There were so many businesses and shoppers, plus the entertainment and the food– it was a lot to take in. But now that I know what to expect, I’ll be ready for this upcoming market, and I want you to be ready too. Here are five things a first-­‐timer (or anyone, really) can expect from a Village Market experience:

1. Amazing Food

Judge me if you must because I am starting with the food, but honestly, it was the most surprising part of the experience for me. This was not just good, plant-­‐based food; this was GREAT food that just so happened to be plant-­‐ based. The Village Café is in a separate room from the Market and filled with at least a dozen vendors. All of them provide vegan and plant-­‐ based…everything. Any food you can imagine was available – pasta, tacos, lasagna, ice cream, you name it! As someone who ascribes to neither a plant-­‐ based nor vegan diet, trust me when I tell you that you will completely forget what you are eating is just as good for you as it tastes.

2. Shopping, Obviously

The main point of the Village Market is to circulate black dollars among black businesses. It puts over 100 black businesses in the same room and pumps the room full of consumers. It is a beautiful thing, connecting businesses and customers in this way, allowing owners and buyers to meet, talk, share, and exchange. It is also nice that you can find a variety of products and services ranging from candles and clothing to accessories and personal assistants. There is literally something for everyone at the Village Market, and it will be the perfect time to complete all of your Christmas shopping. I love that you get to meet the owners, hear their stories, and feel their passion. On the other hand, it makes you want to spend more money, so be prepared for that! Most, if not all, businesses accept both cash and card, which is helpful. I definitely suggest coming into it with a budget, unless you want to be like me and spend all your money.

3. Family-Friendly Environment

Like I said, there is something for everyone, including the kids. I work with children on a daily basis and know first hand how important it is for them to see what is possible when they work toward their dreams. There were several young vendors supporting their parents’ and family’s businesses: learning how businesses work, how to connect with costumers, and how to make sales. It is adorable and necessary for other kids to see. And when they get tired of walking around and shopping with you, they can go to the Kid STEM Zone. It’s a win for everyone.

4. Great Energy

I could try to describe the energy, but I know that I do not have the words to do so adequately. It is like combining the best parts of an HBCU homecoming and Christmas and a great basketball game and a surprise birthday party. Or you could think of it like a family reunion on steroids (in the best possible way). Everyone is happy. Everyone is excited. Everyone is polite and helpful and working to grow and learn and move forward. During the summer market, people were being registered to vote, and Stacey Abrams made an appearance to greet attendees and encourage voter registration. There were performances from a local school drum line and other artists to keep shoppers energetic and entertained. At this market, there will be more performances, a Physician and Holistic Clinic, and a speaker series. It’s lit.

5. All Black Everything

There is not much more to say than that. The Village Market ATL is for those who are love everything about blackness and all things black girl magic and black boy joy. A hundred black-­‐owned businesses. Thousands of black shoppers. Hundreds of thousands of black dollars. This is a real life Wakanda. Period. I loved my first Village Market ATL experience and am looking forward to many more. It is definitely something you do not want to miss, so get your tickets today!

Jamie is the creator of Black Girl Buying, a space that chronicles one black girl’s journey to buy black on a daily basis through highlighting black-owned businesses across the country.

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