Held on Saturday, March 5th at MIST, Harlem Park to Park’s Shop Harlem Live Harlem Lifestyle Expo purely demonstrated the power of creativity and entrepreneurship in Harlem! In the number of participating vendors as well as attendees, the event has more than doubled since its soft debut last year. Over 500 people showed up for the 2016 Expo, which showcased seventy vendors, including Harlem businesses, service-providers, start-ups, restaurants, artists and arts venues.
Starting at 11am, kids workshops and face-painting, complimentary food samples and demonstrations, informational panels, interactive workshops and live performances took place throughout this bustling day. The venue filled to capacity quickly Saturday morning, and the action was non-stop until 4pm. While guests enjoyed perusing, shopping and noshing, one of the major attractions for vendors was the opportunity to pitch their products to buyers for the new Whole Foods, coming to 125th Street. As part of an an HP2P supported initiative to engage community vendors, the supermarket chain entertained pre-arranged appointments with Harlem local wholesalers throughout the afternoon. As a result, we might expect to see some of these innovative products on the shelves when Harlem’s Whole Foods opens later this year.
One thing this day showed us was how alive the spirit of entrepreneurship is in Harlem: From fashion to packaged snacks, health drinks and soul food, Harlemites have been busy in their kitchens and private studios perfecting and readying their products for the world. Some of our known and favorite businesses promoted their products at the Expo as well. But, the delight was in experiencing them all together, under one roof, alongside a variety of impressive, new Harlem-made goodies. The whole display made for a full-day adventure for many visitors. Among the 500 guests were Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, and Congressman, Charlie Rangel – who enjoyed having his face painted as much (or more) than the kids!
By popular demand, HP2P looks forward to adding Shop Harlem Live Harlem Lifestyle Holiday Expo at MIST Harlem in December which would also become an annual event. Planning for the holiday expo will begin this Summer. Visit harlemparktopark.org to keep up.
PHOTOS: (Top left) Congressman Charlie Rangel enjoys face painting by Harlem artist, Layla Merritt. (Above, top to bottom) SHLH vendors and guests; Kids cooking demo, one of the featured events; Harlem entrepreneurs and products; Lara Land of Land Yoga conducting kids yoga workshop; Whole Foods complimentary snack table; Harlem-made food product. All photos courtesy of Harlem Park to Park.