More Than Getting Your ‘Do Done, Black Hair Salons Are A Thriving Marketplace

July 29, 2013  |  

Everything from freshly baked pies, fragrant body oils, tennis shoes, and even cars are sold at African-American hair salons, creating a flourishing atmosphere for both buyers and sellers. And the owner of one barbershop, James Gilliam, does not mind the hustlers selling merchandise to his customers one bit, reports Marketplace.

Gilliam does not dare hold a “no soliciting” sign on his store window. He believes that keeping out the sellers only financially stunts those who peddle for a living. “They’re not in touch with their community,” he says of shop owners who reject sellers. Gilliam explains that the community, which is inner-city Cleveland, is made-up of small business owners that should be supported.

One seller would come in and say, “Anyone want to buy some tennis shoes? Anyone want to come in and buy a car? I got one outside, got a price on it,” said Small, a managing cosmetologist at Coco’s Hair Extraordinaire.

“Booststrap entrepreneurs” Donald Graham, a Cleveland resident, calls these sellers. “We all have money in our pockets when we walk into the barbershop…” he says, “Men are getting their cut and we want to support the community so we buy their products.”

Ronald Muhammad, a strategic bootstrap entrepreneur, makes apple and bean pies on Monday through Thursday. He sells the delicious pies sliced and wrapped so stylists can munch on them during work.  He says that the bean pie is his biggest seller and he pulls in $300 a day.

Gilliam says that “Beats by Dre” headphones is a hot ticket at his barbershop. While they retail nearly $300 at the store, marketers sell the headphones at a discount of $200. Gilliam, although he does not mind the entrepreneurship at his shop, he has one rule: no bogus or stolen merchandise.

The most noble, in Gilliam’s case, is that he does not expect a single dime from the bootstrap entrepreneurs that enter his shop.

This creates a beautiful symbiotic business relationship between the shop owners and bootstrap entrepreneurs; consumers are enticed to enter these hair salons to get discounted deals while sellers are collecting wads of cash to make a living.

What do you think about this business partnership at African-American hair salons?

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