In the tiny parking lot of Dark Hall Coffee, vendors crammed together and set up shop for the fifth Black Market Phoenix event earlier this month.
Black Market Phoenix is a monthly event that supports local Arizona artists and small businesses by promoting visibility giving them a physical space to sell their items. The market also serves as an opportunity for people to shop small and build community.
Tents and tables for the 20 vendors in attendance packed the parking lot selling items like jewelry, handmade and vintage clothing, ceramics, and more.
Black Market Phoenix organizer and Later Operator (@later_operator) shop owner Sara Avery has been setting up the event at Dark Hall since January of this year.
“My friends own Dark Hall and they wanted to have something to just get community out here, get people to Dark Hall and then also, just support local artists, businesses, and vendors through something fun,” said Avery.
Black Market Phoenix pays the support forward by donating part of the vendor fee proceeds to their partnerships with local organizations. This month, the event partnered with rescue dog shelter Mini Mighty Mutts and nonprofit organization Peace and Dignity Journey PHX.
Phoenix record store Revolver Records regularly DJ’s and pet groomers Untamed Pet are present at every market providing music and offering free nail trims for dogs and encouraging customers to bring their dogs to the event.
Vendors at Black Market Phoenix reached out for participation in the event via Instagram, a platform that many use to run their stores online.
Markets like this act as physical storefronts for online shops and offer more exposure to the community for the participating businesses.
“They’re definitely good for marketing,” said Avery. “When we’re doing events like this, all the shops are posting about it [on Instagram] and tagging each other, so it gets a lot of good exposure to each other’s customers. I really like that it’s people out here just supporting local businesses.”
Emma Bush runs her store Soap Box Clothing For A Cause (@soapboxclothing) through the social media platform and said that events like Black Market Phoenix are an opportunity for the customers to physically see her products.
“I sell online. I don’t have a physical store so it gives me an opportunity to use this as a storefront,” said Bush.
Bush also said that markets were an opportunity to encourage people to shop small and support the livelihood of the vendors.
“Especially with the holidays coming up, there’s like no way to keep with these big box markets,” said Bush. “If you can spend the 10 bucks to get someone something for Christmas that’s handmade, that’s putting gas in my van and getting food in my belly.”
Markets also build community for the participating vendors.
Melanie Franco, owner of jewelry shop Black Amethyst (@bl_ckamethyst), said that this was her second time attending the market and that the opportunity to meet new people and see familiar faces was her favorite part of the day.
“I love talking to people and meeting new people,” said Franco.
“Events like these help get your name out there, make money, and build a new network. You start coming to these markets and recognizing other artists and you create a family and even sell to each other,” said Franco.
By reaching out to the vendors through Instagram, Avery has been able to bring online store owners together and support one another.
“I like that people are out here supporting the local vendors and the vendors are supporting each other,” said Avery.
As for the future of Black Market Phoenix, Avery says that the market will get bigger and bigger as she continues to partner with the community and provide a platform for local small businesses.
“I want it to keep expanding and I want more and more people to come out,” said Avery.
To know when the next market will set up shop in the Dark Hall parking lot you can follow @BlackMarketPhx on Instagram for updates on upcoming markets and a list of participating vendors.