On the fourth Friday of every month, Fourth Street’s iconic “Retro Row” celebrates small businesses through an open market supported by their business improvement district, known as BID.
The BID is the only one in Long Beach that comprises 100% volunteers, primarily those who own businesses on the street. It collects a small fee from participating businesses on Fourth, which funds things like advertising and event planning.
Small businesses along other prominent businesses on Fourth Street, like Songbird or La Bamba, set up tables along the sidewalk for guests to browse. The businesses homed on Fourth can invite small businesses they know to set up a booth in front of their stores.
For stores that don’t invite small businesses themselves, the BID provides pop-ups to set up in front of the stores.
The vendors often relate to the theme of that month’s Fourth Friday. For December, the theme was holidays and Lunar New Year for January.
In honor of February being Black History Month, Fourth Friday followed suit featuring Black artists and Black-owned businesses.
However, the weather conditions on Feb. 24 postponed the market until Saturday, March 11, during the daytime rather than its usual afternoon spot.
February’s Fourth Friday being postponed will not affect March’s Fourth Friday, which will be held on March 24.
In celebration of Black History, the Dembrebrah Drum and Dance Ensemble performed at the rescheduled event.
Along with the Dembrebrah Drum and Dance Ensemble, Fourth Friday highlighted Black-owned businesses on its Instagram, including Level Up Barber Studio, Earthing and Native Sol.
Omari Hudson, 35, is the owner of Level Up Barber Studio, which offers services from hair braiders, cosmetologists, and “locticians.” Opening up during a pandemic, Hudson found Fourth Street to be a place where he could bring a Black presence to the already diverse street.
“Everyone gets along, you know,” Hudson said. “We had Black History Month last month. This month’s Women’s Appreciation Month. There’s going to be LGBTQ month coming up soon. So everyone supports everyone else, especially with what’s near and dear to them.”
Tyrone Ward, 52, is the owner of Earthing and Native Sol, which feature lifestyle and sustainable goods, vintage items and handmade jewelry. Earthing is a shop featuring vintage home decor, plants, textiles and sustainable maker goods. Native Sol is a lifestyle shop that carries handmade jewelry and vintage items.
Ward initially pitched Fourth Fridays to the Fourth Street BID. Originally his first Shop Native Sol was a pop-up food shop with his wife’s, May Ward, handmade clothing and jewelry sold on the side.
Experienced in pop-up markets, Ward continued to do a pop-up in front of his storefront every fourth Friday of the month. Eventually, neighboring businesses noticed and asked to participate. This snowballed into the BID-approved event we see today.
“I think it gives them [Long Beach residents] a chance to see some new things that they don’t normally see besides the store,” said Ward. “And then it also gives us an opportunity to connect people.”