The pandemic has affected businesses across the Basin, and that goes for many of our black-owned businesses too.
“Slow, almost coming to a screeching halt,” says James Walker, owner of Smell ‘Em Goods by James Ray.
Walker runs an oil-based cologne and fragrance business, while his daughter Priscilla Mann owns Asili Heart, a soap, lotion and skin care business.
“People are coming out, but not as much as you would have seen two, three years ago,” says Mann.
Before the pandemic, the two would travel across West Texas and set-up shop at vendor malls. The malls shut-down for a while, have since reopened, but crowds are still slim.
“I was used to putting out 100-200 orders a week,” says Mann. “Now I’m getting about 25% of that.”
Now the two mainly rely on websites, social media and word of mouth to sell their products. They say black-owned businesses are generally under-supported, so during a pandemic, it’s even more critical to support them.
“If you can get the same product, why not buy from a black-owned business?” says Walker.
Both Walker and Mann say they are staying optimistic throughout the slow-down. The two will be selling their merchandise at the upcoming Briar Patch Vendor Mall on March 6th-7th at the Ector County Coliseum.