Photo depicting customers shopping various booths inside a hall for the Black Night Market.

Centering Black Business and Opportunity: Black Night Market Returns for 2023

by Amanda Ong

Throughout the past year, the Black Night Market has been providing a space for exclusively Black business owners and live performers. Among a world of predominantly white crafts fairs and holiday markets, the Black Night Market has showcased over 500 artists and entrepreneurs.

The first Black Night Market was in April of 2022. Their first market of 2023 will be Friday, Feb. 24, at Edison Square Tacoma, and this will be their seventh market, bringing exciting talents, foods, vendors, and more.

“Honestly, Black Night Market came to me in a dream,” Mari Griffin, the founder of Black Night Market, said in an interview with South Seattle Emerald. Griffin has been organizing markets for the past few years, from the Hilltop Indoor Market to the Tacoma Holiday Market. “I was ending at the Tacoma Holiday Market because it was just a holiday season market. And I asked, ‘What should I do next? And how should I do it?’ And I dreamed of the Black Night Market.”

Customers buying from a vendor at a Black Night Market. (Photo: Mari Griffin)

Before organizing markets, Griffin was a craft and art vendor at different markets all over the Tacoma area. At the time, she had many questions about the industry, and when Griffin started to organize vendor markets she would also receive those same questions from aspiring and beginner entrepreneurs. 

“So I basically created the space and became the person that I wanted to be introduced to when I was a vendor,” Griffin said. “There were just some things about the organizations and the [market] environments that weren’t comforting and welcoming as creative artists. So I wanted to create a space to get the exposure that I wanted, but also the space that I wanted to be in when it came to a market.”

The February market will include performances from local hip hop acts to spoken word artists, like TwonnTravolta, Alexa J., Gabriella Julia, Czon, Nicco DeLuna, Z’ambre (R&B), and K.LA JAY. There will also be over 30 BIPOC-owned businesses, such as Hunnybun Bakery and Buddy’s Chicken and Waffles.

Vendor Jaikore Art at the grand opening of Black Night Market in April 2022. (Photo: Mari Griffin)

Starting in June, the Black Night Market will be moving to a new location — the LeMay America’s Car Museum Haub Family Field, a 3.5-acre field near the Tacoma Dome. The market will be held there the last Friday of the month from June to September, and will expand as an outdoor event with space for over 100 vendors, food trucks, a performance stage, a beer garden, and games and activity booths. People will be encouraged and allowed to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets, eat, drink, enjoy the new beer garden, play games, dine, and dance.

“There are so many different markets here,” Griffin said. “But like I mentioned before, the reason why I got started is because not every space is for everyone. And not everyone is going to be comfortable or welcomed or celebrated in that same particular space. The Black Night Market is very important for the Black community because it brings us together to celebrate and support our local artists and entrepreneurs and to connect with them. Because over history, Black people have been neglected when it comes to financial resources or business resources and opportunities. So that’s why I do what I do, to create that space for [Black opportunity].”

Come check out the Black Night Market on Feb. 24 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Edison Square Tacoma, 5415 S Tacoma Way. Entry is free. And follow their Instagram to keep up with details on their upcoming markets at America’s Car Museum, starting this June!

Guests standing by the Black Night Market sign on September 30, 2022. (Photo: Mari Griffin)

Amanda Ong (she/her) is a Chinese American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate at the University of Washington Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in creative writing and ethnicity and race studies.

📸 Featured Image: Tacoma’s Black Night Market is more than just a market. It’s a space that celebrates Black business, entrepreneurship, and brilliance. Pictured: Black Night Market at its grand opening on April 29, 2022. (Photo: Mari Griffin)

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