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Published on November 10th, 2020 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


NiLu-Harlem’s Born and Bred Gift Shop Supporting Harlem’s Artists and Makers through Covid-19

Small Businesses for America’s Future, a coalition of small-business owners and leaders, recently found that 1 in 4 businesses have considered closing permanently this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses employ half our country.

NiLu, the Harlem gift shop owned by husband and wife, Mark Pinn and Katrina Parris, is a small business that has pivoted during the pandemic– to help not only their own business sustain and thrive, but also the businesses of fellow black entrepreneurs. NiLu has used the disruption of Covid-19 to revitalize their brand and reconnect with their Harlem community. As Covid shut down the city, they realized they had to come up with a new strategy to stay in business. They also realized that local artists and makers in Harlem were facing the same challenges with most stores, galleries and markets closed.

They created NiLu’s “Harlem Village Market”, now open every Saturday and Sunday, from 12-5, on the sidewalk in front of their storefront in Central Harlem to address this need. “As we battle back from Covid we felt a need to create an opportunity for local makers, artists and musicians to rise with us,” said Mark. The market features two to four different makers, artists or musicians each weekend, and is a warm welcome for Harlem locals re-exploring their neighborhood post quarantine. NiLu doesn’t charge makers fees or commissions to participate in the market. “We believe now is the time to pay it forward,” adds Mark.

NiLu is also hosting a monthly artists spotlight series, giving one local artist an opportunity to show in the store. Wilhelmina Grant showed in October. They are also offering makers space to sell their crafts in the store when the weather gets colder and hire local Jazz musicians to play outside the store each weekend. Jenny Anne Hibbert, a maker and participant of a recent NiLu market says,

“Shop Nilu” is a godsend providing a safe place for the Harlem maker community. It’s a testimony to their character and their commitment to this community. Harlem needs more heroes.”

“Our community has struggled this year. We hope these pop-up events are able to bring back some of the things we’ve been missing, all while supporting the artists and makers that make Harlem what it is,” Katrina adds.

About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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