Friday, July 19, 2024

The Popportunity shops at Starlight Square last winter. (Photo: Popportunity)

Black Friday and its trek to Covid-clogged stores is a hassle, but Small Business Saturday will be unmasked and easy in Central Square, where the square’s business improvement district organization plans to gather some 50 small, local sellers of holiday gifts from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will also be food trucks and music at the combined Small Business Saturday and one-year anniversary of the Popportunity market clustered in Starlight Square, the open-air entertainment complex, and on Norfolk Street between Massachusetts Avenue to Bishop Allen Drive, organizers said.

“Saturday will be a special day for Central. It’s an opportunity to celebrate what our neighborhood, Cambridge’s Cultural District, has done to stay strong and connected throughout the pandemic, [when] we’ve done everything we could to not just keep existing businesses open but also support new ones,” said Michael Monestime, departing executive director of the business improvement district.

After Saturday’s event, the 13 independently-run pop-up shops at Popportunity will stay through Dec. 19, said Nina Berg, creative director of the Central Square Business Improvement District. The idea of the market, created with Flagg Street Studio, was to provide local entrepreneurs with a place to share and sell their work without the prohibitively high costs of a storefront; through the business improvement district, Lola’s Urban Vintage went from a Popportunity space to a subsidized shop at 541 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.

The remaining Small Business Saturday stores have been organized by the New England Open Markets organization. Berg noted that the whole of Central Square will be open for business on the day, from long-lived bricks-and-mortar stores such as Cheapo Records to restaurants waiting to serve hungry shoppers, in addition to Starlight and the Norfolk Street stands.

Monestime said “the best of the square will be on display” that day, including “world-class food, a new appreciation for public space and our unrivaled community spirit.”

Some of the Popportunity businesses taking part in Small Business Saturday are:

  • Boston Artesenal, owned by Maria Ines Soler Meneses. One-of-a-kind artisanal goods imported from Soler’s hometown in Mexico. Proceeds are redistributed to support the makers, often entire families. Look for beautiful alebrijes – Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures – as well as handmade bags and jewelry.
  • Jules’ Jamaican On-the-Go, owned by Julius Frances. Cambridge native Julius Frances cooks Jamaican food every weekend at Popportunity. Favorites to try include chicken soup with pickled corn from Mumu’s Pikliz, jerk chicken and veggie empanadas.
  • Fear My Gear, owned by Kamal Arty. Central has always been known for vintage and crate digging. Arty, a creative director and stylist, specializes in found and flipped streetwear with inventory that rotates weekly.
  • iLoveFGC, owned by Unique Top. Senegal comes to Central Square in one of Popportunity’s most colorful shops. Owner Unique chooses beautiful fabrics for clothing and showcases accessories, bags and handmade jewelry.
  • Cini Coffee, owned by Nefisa Siraj. Buy roasts from Siraj’s home country of Ethiopia as beans, grounds or hot or cold drinks to go. Cini Coffee also sells baklava.
  • Tokens of Light, owned by Khali Tabor. A shop for the young and young at heart by a Cambridge native. Pre-Covid, the idea was to design and sell a custom line of children’s clothing. Disrupted by the pandemic, Tabor pivoted to curating a collection of apparel that promotes body positivity and style at any age.
  • Mahogany Expression, owned by Sanita Tabor. The owner – a Cambridge native and sister of Khali Tabor – provides one-stop shopping for limited-edition Cambridge apparel, original artwork, crystals, incense and candles.

More participating businesses are on the event’s Facebook page.

This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.