SOLA Sidewalk Soiree Promotes Small Brooklyn Businesses

SolaFor a variety of reasons, not every small business will have a brick and mortar establishment. So aside from selling online, what are the alternatives?? One way to get your products and services noticed without a storefront is by participating in local street fairs and flea markets.

In mid September as part of Shops of Lewis Avenue?s (SOLA) 4th Annual Sidewalk Soiree over 100 small businesses temporarily set up shop on Lewis Avenue in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York to showcase their wares.

Tijuana Staley, whose company The Perfect Guest (TPG) managed the event for SOLA, said that events like the Sidewalk Soiree are important because they help small businesses and community members meet their neighbors, further the event supports Black businesses.?

Staley?s business partner Tameeka Nicole Norville said to plan the event?which expanded from three city blocks to four this year?they had to make sure ?all key players and stakeholders were on the same page.?? To achieve this she personally visited merchants weekly to keep everyone in the loop.

Some of the businesses participating in the Sidewalk Soiree such as Brownstone Books, Bread Stuy and Creative Blossoms have storefronts on Lewis Avenue where the festival took place.? Other vendors like Bernice Malone owner of Dazzle Divaz have home based businesses.

Malone, who runs her mobile party service for girls ages 4-14 on weekends, said participating in the SOLA?s Sidewalk Soiree has been a great addition to her other promotional efforts which have been based in the neighborhood.? Periodically she goes to nearby businesses and leaves post cards describing what a Dazzle Divaz party entails?dress up accessories, mini manicures, creative crafts and more. Also Malone took out an ad with a local community newspaper.

Since she started her businesses in May, Malone has thrown a dozen parties and is pleased that her business which was inspired by her five year old daughter?s love of dressing up has been well received.?

While Malone lives in Bedford Stuyvesant, another vendor Nandi a self published novelist lives in Crown Heights, another Brooklyn neighborhood.? Nandi who was born in London and lived in Trinidad and Canada where she worked as a journalist recently published The True Nanny Diaries:? A Novel.? The author says just one month after publishing she?s sold 400 books by word of mouth, some press write ups, online and by attending events like the Sidewalk Soiree.?

Crystal Bobb-Semple, owner of Brownstone Books and member of SOLA says that after four years the Sidewalk Soiree has actually gotten easier to organize especially since Staley and Norville came on board to coordinate.?? ?This is year four and it?s been growing,? Bobb-Semple told When asked about the event in regards to the current financial crises the country is experiencing, Bobb-Semple responded saying ?the big crash was right before our event last year.? People were cautious, but they still came out.?

This year appeared to be a major success as well.? The streets were teeming with people and the vendors offered a variety of products.? For children Brownstone Books sponsored a Spelling Bee and Aurora M. Robinson, an architect and educator who is at work on a children?s book set up a craft booth where children could build a model brownstones with paper cut outs.

Stages were set up for entertainment and music. There were chess and scrabble tournaments, a creative arts showcase, floral arranging as well as wine and desert pairing. So how did Staley and Norville keep track of it all?? Lists, they said. The pair had checklists for everything including the vendors, entertainment, equipment and attractions for the kids.? ?Success is all about being organized,? Norville said.

TPG is a Brooklyn based full service event planning company providing a wide array of services including Guest Management, Event Concept Development/Design, Vendor Recommendations and Event Preparation.? For more information visit