By Nicholas Ibarra | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Every Saturday morning in Midtown Sacramento, a farmers market is held. Local vendors sell a variety of goods — clothes, produce, plants, baked goods, and other hand-crafted items.
Many Black-owned businesses set up shop there, but chances are, people don’t know they exist. This is where Chris Lodgson steps in — he connects Black-owned businesses with people and each other, all over Sacramento.
Lodgson, 38, created SacBlackBiz.Biz, a website for Black business owners to connect and promote their businesses, paving a way for them to grow while also growing the Black entrepreneurial community of Sacramento and putting money in their hands.
He moved to Sacramento from New York in 2015. While in New York, Lodgson studied business and finance at Baruch College and worked closely with non-profit organizations, such as Help USA and Street Soccer USA. He learned skills, such as social media management and how to provide social support services to people in need.
With his knowledge of business, finance, and work experience, Lodgson created a Facebook group in 2016 called Sac Black Biz Community & Commerce, to connect people with Black-owned businesses, bring commerce, and potentially lower poverty rates by creating jobs for Black people.
“We saw that it was working. We saw people actually using it to find businesses and do business — even to this day,” Lodgson said. “We’ve helped move tens of thousands of dollars in between the hands of Black folks every single year, since 2017.”
Now, the Facebook group has almost 10,000 members in addition to a second Facebook group, Facebook page, and Instagram profile.
“If you add up our reach across all three platforms, we have 20,000 people in and around the Sacramento area seeing your product,” Lodgson said. “That’s huge exposure for a Sacramento Black-owned business.”
His online presence has been so successful that Lodgson decided to launch a website, SacBlackBiz.Biz, that features an online directory as a way to expand the support they provide to Black businesses and people of Sacramento.
“We want this to be a place for people to experience Sacramento Black-owned businesses, not just a place to go see ads,” Lodgson said. “Our ‘#Premieres’ tab allows people to talk about their experiences in business and share things they’ve learned through videos — Black business, entertainment, and information — like YouTube. It’s an opportunity to connect with our businesses in a deeper way.”
While Lodgson made it free for businesses to add their names and information to the directory, potential customers wanting to access the directory must sign up for a $5/month subscription. Subscribers have the ability to search through more than 750 different businesses of more than 100 unique categories from all over Sacramento County.
Businesses have the option to choose from a $10, $15, or $20/month “promotion subscription” which grants them access to the directory along with other opportunities, such as ads on their various social media pages, features on the website, and customer referrals.
“I’m really honored and humbled to be able to help and do the things that we’re doing. We put food on people’s tables — we’re actually out here helping,” Lodgson said. “There’s a lot of great folks doing a lot of great stuff for Sacramento Black-owned businesses. I got love for everybody doing everything they can to support the community.”