Cleveland man pushes support of local businesses

Cleveland man pushes support of local businesses
Renay Fowler and her sister opened a clothing store in Shaker Square 27 years ago, but says business can be tough. (Source: WOIO)
Renay Fowler and her sister opened a clothing store in Shaker Square 27 years ago, but says business can be tough. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - While malls and stores were crowded with Black Friday shoppers, one Cleveland man is pushing for people to shop local through a digital platform called "The Real Black Friday."

Founder LaRese Purnell currently works as the CFO of The Word Church, but he's also an author and serves as a financial consultant to many Cleveland area businesses.

The Real Black Friday is a coalition of businesses with black owners in northeast Ohio. Its website features an online directory that offers shoppers local alternatives for everything, including restaurants, fitness services and retail shops.

Purnell created The Real Black Friday two years ago, after watching black owners lose holiday shoppers to big stores, especially on Black Friday.

"Our community tends to go to the bigger box stores because that's what we hear about," said Purnell. "There are 400 plus businesses on The Real Black Friday. We don't want just blacks to support the real Black Friday, we want everybody. This is a mindset change. We're trying to get people in the community to support the businesses down the street."

In two weeks, Purnell plans to launch the "Lynx Card." Shoppers can buy the card and save money at businesses in The Real Black Friday network.

"With that card, the consumer wins because they get great discounts, and the owner wins because they get more traffic," explained Purnell.

Renay Fowler and her sister, Tracy, started Fashions by Fowler in Shaker Square 27 years ago.

"Me and my sister feel blessed that we've been in Cleveland that long, because it definitely can be tough," Fowler admitted. "They don't think about the small businesses. They think about the big companies."

Fowler is a member of The Real Black Friday and believes there's strength in numbers.

"It ties us all together and gives them the opportunity to know that we're in business and we want to service them," said Fowler.

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