Nationwide — PurchaseBlack.com, a curated online marketplace and mobile app selling products from exceptional Black owned businesses, has decided to stop operations and close. Founder Brian AM Williams has a full heartfelt explanation for the closure, items inspired by “Blessed”, as well as an ebook of over 700 online Black owned product businesses for sale on the website.
“I felt that the meaning of PurchaseBlack.com was too great for me to just close & leave it to everyone to figure out why,” says Williams. He gives detailed issues that he faced including a lack of enough businesses outside of the hair, skin, accessories, and apparel areas to choose from for the PurchaseBlack website. “Unfortunately the Black community does not yet have that diversity of industry with enough depth to support true scalability,” he says. As a result, Williams has decided to close. “It’s hard, but sometimes the best business decisions don’t feel good, and unfortunately this is the best business decision given the circumstances.”
Brian is a Purdue University engineer & an MBA from McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas who has created his own graduate course surrounding Black businesses. His experience in strategy, early stage investing, data analytics, and focus on Black companies allows Brian to hold a rare perspective on the realities of Black owned business in the United States. He comments, “Overall, Black people are very proud and want to be supportive of our business community, but our habits do not reflect the level of support needed to experience the true benefits of buying Black. Basically, Black Americans do not spend enough money with each other & until we do, we won’t get the benefits. We have to be more serious with much less talking & much more spending with each other.”
When the diversity of product companies within the community is limited, that limits how well a company like PurchaseBlack.com can grow. If the greater purpose of the company cannot be achieved, it doesn’t make sense to continue. Brian continues, “I expect that the Black business community will expand more into areas other than personal care products, apparel, and accessories. Our businesses and customers must have the tough conversations about Black customer dedication & skepticism, Black business performance & quality, as well as knowing that the Black business community has few sources of support other than Black customers. If Black people don’t get serious about our businesses & spend money, our business community won’t survive & we will be to blame. Yet, if we make a few changes, we can thrive!”
PurchaseBlack.com has changed its website to PurchaseBlack.org, where there is the 2017 Ultimate Guide to Black Online Businesses, an ebook with over 700 validated Black owned online businesses that PurchaseBlack has identified over the last 4 years. It’s available for $14.99. “Truth is, we had many more Black companies, but once we started to validate functional websites & a few other things, this is the best list left. We didn’t want to give people bad information,” Brian says. The guide comes just in time for 2017, as many people form resolutions to buy Black after Christmas and Kwanzaa. “I believe it’s the best resource available. Location-based directories have been hard for a lot of people who really want to support Black because many times, businesses aren’t nearby. You don’t have to worry about that with this guide because it doesn’t matter what city you live in. All of these Black owned companies are online, so they can be supported from anywhere,” Brian says.
So, what’s next for the founder of PurchaseBlack?
Brian comments, “I’m looking at a few things. Im entertaining conversations in the venture capital/angel investing space, speaking about my experience working with Black companies generating millions of dollars in revenue, considering technology related opportunities, and teaching others what I have learned. I plan on using my personal website, BrianAMWilliams.com to write, teach, and hopefully inspire business owners to reach higher, and staying involved with making a positive impact on the community. I’m not out of the fight, just finding new ways to make progress towards better lives for the community.”