About 20 Black owned small businesses took part in a pop-up shop event Sunday in west Las Vegas to celebrate Juneteenth.
Robert Gardner, owner of The Art House Hookah Lounge, hosted the event and invited small business owners to use his space for free. He put the word out on Facebook, and within six hours all the available slots filled up.
“I really wanted to do something for this holiday to support other small Black businesses,” Gardner said. “Most Black businesses that I know have more online presence, so me having a brick and mortar I figure I could extend the courtesy out to help them and help reach people.”
Last year, President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday, commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Gardner cleared the inside of his business to allow for small business owners to set up tables. He provided free hot dogs and hamburgers for all customers.
“I figured there was no better way to celebrate it than to celebrate Black business and people who want to go out on their own and support their families and make money,” Gardner said.
His son Robert Gardner, Jr., 16, helped set up tables for business owners and said his dad putting on the pop-up shop has inspired him to help others.
“For him to come out and bring the community together instead of breaking it apart, especially for young black business owners … he’s coming out and inspiring others to do what he’s doing right now, and that is helping community get connections and hopefully build off of each other’s actions and words, and it’s very inspiring,” the younger Gardner said.
Las Vegas resident Ty Hyatte had a table set up for her small business Glow With Me, a natural hair and skin care line.
“Every product that I have was made for an issue that I personally had with my hair or my skin,” Hyatte said.
She has been in business for two years and learned about the pop-up shop event on Facebook.
“It makes me proud of people who are just like stepping outside the box, especially people who have never done it before,” Hyatte said of the other small businesses.
The elder Gardner’s aunt Charisse Anderson-Lynch owns Ressie Sweet Treats and had an assortment of gourmet popcorn, peanut brittle and cookies on display at her table.
She started her business last year, but had to stop after she was in a car accident. Anderson-Lynch said Sunday’s event was a chance to get her business back up and running.
“This event for Juneteenth is really nice,” Anderson-Lynch said. “To help all the Black-owned businesses get together, celebrating our freedom.”