While some retailers fail to support Black lives, there is a growing trend of shopping groups on social media created for and by Black women propelling social change. For them, shopping isn’t just about products. It’s about community building, bonding over buying and, sometimes, encouraging multi-generational Black wealth.
Too often, there aren’t spaces exclusively for the collective joy and protection of Black women, especially on the internet, group leaders say. When Black women aren’t co-opted, assimilated, or silenced, they add, they thrive.
USA TODAY spoke with Black women online groups for Trader Joe’s, Costco, Target and Starbucks by Zoom and email. Here’s what they had to say.
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Black girls in Trader Joe’s Instagram group
An Instagram group with 218,000 members, Black Girls In Trader Joe’s, was formed by Cleveland, Ohio resident, Mercedes “Dee” Davis, who also created Facebook hashtag #BlackGirlsInTraderJoes and a private FB group exclusively for Black women that now has over 44,000 members.
“I’m a believer in creating community and safe spaces for Black women. That’s exactly what the FB group gives. It’s like a big fam!” Davis said via email.
While she adores Trader’s Joe’s, Davis believes it should support Black women shoppers more.
“The big TJ (Trader Joe’s) pages are run by white women who already share and post to the current TJ demographic,” she says. “Creating BGITJ (Black Girls In Trader Joe’s), I’ve changed the game, because it’s a lot of BW (Black Women) who have never shopped at TJ before and are now faithful, shelf-clearing shoppers.”
According to Davis, Trader Joe’s has featured store displays inspired by popular product combinations that originated on BGITJ. “If they (TJ) do indeed value Black women shoppers,” she says, “it’s time to do so publicly.”
BGITJ fosters solidarity with matching T-shirts and the group’s tagline “We In This Thang!” And the group’s community isn’t limited to the computer as Davis hosts in-person events, too. The first “BGITJ: Just Vibes Retreat” was held in September, 2021 in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
“It was incredible,’’ Davis said. “Forty Black women coming together. It was more than just a love for TJ.”
On Instagram: @blackgirlsintraderjoes
Black women who love Target Facebook group
This Facebook shopping community of over 20,000 doesn’t just celebrate the retailer, it uplifts the Black women who are the group’s members.
After joining Black Women Who Love Trader Joe’s in February, 2021, Fort Worth, Texas, educator Sharla Horton-Williams was inspired to ask members if they’d like a Black Women Who Love Target page too. The response was overwhelming.
Horton-Williams said she wanted to create an environment to help Black women feel safe.
“We talk a lot in Black Women Who Love Target about haircare and skincare,’’ she said. “Those are unique to our culture. It’s a safe place and it’s a fun place. We get to use our dialects without being judged. We get to talk about things that are important to us without having to explain and translate to the rest of the world.”
For Horton-Williams, it’s also crucial that Target respects Black shoppers. “They’ve really been a frontrunner in establishing and honoring Black excellence and Black creativity,” she says “So, almost always, we share the newest Black designers or feature the newest Black art that’s in Target.”
This Facebook group even sports custom shirts made by members Bijou Karman and Natalia Vaughns.
Black Women Who Love Targetmember, Kinna Thomas, is a testament to how online shopping affinity groups empower Black women to explore their interests and share them with others.
“I joined because sometimes I just need help on what to buy or try,” Thomas said. “This particular group helps connect to others like me who loves to shop and try new things. The posts about everyday essential items, like skincare and toiletries are my favorites. It’s also fun to see how people express their personal style, since fashion is one of my natural interests.”
Target meets the group’s joint admiration with reciprocity as it wants to make Black shoppers and businesses feel seen.
Gloria Delgadillo, part of Target’s communications team, says that “at Target, our goal is to create a shopping experience where all guests feel welcomed and represented, and we’ve made commitments to ensure Black guests see themselves represented, from the merchandise we offer to our marketing efforts and more.”
The company’s investment in both Black shoppers and employees allows for novel possibilities that haven’t historically been available, Target says.
Facebook group: Facebook.com/groups/942327612837957
Black women who love fashion private Facebook group
Many members of these online groups are often inspired to create their own.In Thomas’s case, that meant creating a community focused on fashion.
She created the private Facebook group, Black Women who Love Fashion in 2020, following the murder of George Floyd. It was a time in which many Black people needed nurturing environments to feel collective joy, and since then, it continues to evolve.
“It’s extremely important to me to amplify the voices of Black women and create a safe space to connect,” Thomas says. While her page does focus on “chatting over fashion,” there’s what Thomas calls a “broader dialogue” at play.
She emphasizes that her group is about “the importance of feeling accepted and loved just as you are … it’s a celebration of them, and that feels incredibly important during these uncertain times.”
With over 70,000 members, her community has grown larger than Thomas ever imagined.
“It’s so meaningful for me to create a place of refuge, rest and joy for Black women all over the world,” she said.
Facebook group: Facebook.com/groups/297641001235588
Black women who love Costco Facebook community
A Facebook community that bonds over Costco merchandise as well as building multi-generational Black wealth, Black Women Who Love Costco, was founded by Dallas, Texas, resident, Josef Spencer Hudson after she asked members of another group what new pages they’d like to see.
Eventually, Hudson recruited her friend, Rachael E. Brown from Wylie, Texas, as a group administrator to help with the community’s over 29,000 members.
“It goes beyond being a place for us to, as we say, ‘Kiki’ (or socially gather ),” Hudson said. “We introduced so many other topics, and people have been educating each other in there, not only on how to purchase Costco stock but how to purchase other stock and build wealth.”
Facebook group: Facebook.com/groups/764261784497971
Black girls love Starbucks Instagram group
This Instagram group of over 7,000 enjoys coffee and conversation. Imani Isoke Johnson of Hempstead, New York started IG page Black Girls Love Starbucks after being a fan of Starbucks and collecting its cups for years.
While she found other Black women who love the franchise, the sense of community is what bonds the group’s members.
“This page has definitely helped me make new relationships with women who I have so much in common with,” Johnson said, adding that she is willing to hop on a phone call or reach out to any members are in need. She also has small in-person gatherings with group members — at a local Starbucks, of course.
On Instagram: @blackgirlslovestarbucks