Column: Lamar Robinson — Man Behind the Melanin Market Experience



BY BRANDON EDWARDS | South Jersey Information Equity Project

BRISTOL, Pa. — When it comes to iconic events you’ve attended, what do you remember?

Usually, it’s the feeling it gave us; who we were with, or maybe even what we wore that comes to mind. But how often do we think about who put it together? How much do we know about the person who first saw the event in their mind?

Willingboro native Lamar Robinson is a man whose events have impacted thousands of people all over the East Coast for the past 15 years. He is the curator of the largest BIPOC business expo in the Tri-State area known as the Melanin Market, and the owner of a new co-working and event space in Bristol, Pa., called the Business Club, where we met and spoke at length about his journey.

As I walked into his establishment, my feet were met with a red carpet that led me into a space equipped with everything a business in 2024 could want and aesthetically gave me VIP vibes.

To the right of me was an area designed for a podcast or radio show, complete with all the broadcasting equipment necessary. To the left of me were double doors that led to a shared workspace, with whiteboards, desks, and computers perfect for getting work done; and in front of me was bar stool seating, tables, couches and a dance floor on which I could envision a family having a great time.

As I stood there in awe, contemplating on the best section to conduct the interview, I couldn’t help but think how does one man have the time, energy, and resources to do so much in what seems like so little time?

“Tailor-Made” Experiences

And surely enough, the longer we spoke, I realized that all his experiences were tailor-made for him to become who he is today. So, after this article, you’ll understand a little more about Lamar Robinson, “The Man Behind the Event.”

Before, there was the Melanin Market Experience that revolutionized business expos or the innovative Business Club, bringing work and play under the same roof. There was also Mar Weez, a rambunctious high school kid from Willingboro. Robinson has always had the gift of gab and a knack for bringing people together.

From hosting birthday parties for his friends to house parties for his classmates, there was never a party where Mar Weez wasn’t on the mic at the time. With big dreams and even bigger drive, hosting house parties soon turned into hosting high school proms, and high school proms quickly turned into promoting nightclubs.

Singer performs at Melanin Market in Willingboro on Saturday, March 25, 2023. Photo by Meredith Winner/Mer-Made Photography.

Growing up 20 minutes from Philadelphia, it was only a matter of time before Lamar would make his mark on the big city. During his rise on the nightclub scene, his events became a common destination for young people all over the Tri-State area looking to party.

Before he knew it, celebrities would be in the building as well. Music artists from Trey Songz, and Nikki Minaj, to Meek Mill, and Beanie Sigal just to name a few, all found themselves on the ticket with Mar Weez hosting and promoting the festivities.

Called for More

On the surface, it doesn’t get any better for a young man fresh out of high school trying to make his mark on the world, but being a man of God, Robinson had a feeling that he was called for more. A feeling that was confirmed when he got a revelation that would change his life forever.

He said he remembers this night vividly. It was a normal night at the club, the dance floor was jammed-packed and the fun meter was at its peak. Everyone was having the time of their lives when God spoke to him loud and clear.

Lamar Robinson speak about the Melanin Market on the WTXF-TV show Good Morning Philadelphia. Photo provided by Brandon Edwards.

“As I looked into the crowd, all I could see was fake happiness,” Robinson said. “God showed me the pain that was hiding behind the pleasure, people with real-life problems drowning their sorrows in the darkness of the nightlife.

“In what felt like an instant, I saw casual drinking turn into puking, fun dancing turn into fighting, and fighting turn into gunshots.”

It was then he realized that his club-promoting days were numbered, and if he didn’t find his own way out, God would force an exit, the hard way.

Robinson said he was faced with a decision to make a life-altering decision: How can he cater to his gift, and fulfilled his purpose of bringing people together positively?

Owners of local Rita’s Water Ice serves visitors at Melanin Market in Willingboro on Saturday, March 25, 2023. Photo by Meredith Winner/Mer-Made Photography.

In search for his escape, he got the biggest opportunity a club promoter can get; an offer to run one of the most popular nightclubs in Philadelphia. At the time this was an offer Robinson felt he could not refuse, so he accepted the position.

However, in hindsight, Robinson said, “It was actually the hard exit I was trying to avoid because it landed me in a prison cell for a crime I did not commit.”

Elaborating on the story, he explains how someone committed a crime with property that was stolen from him, and when he went to retrieve his property, he was arrested on the spot.

For the sake of time and to protect the identities of certain parties involved, I will spare the details. But Lamar did have this to say about the situation.

By Any Means Necessary

“Just know that when God has something greater for your life, He will get you there by any means necessary.”

Robinson was forced to use all his funds to post bail and retain a lawyer to maintain his innocence. It was then that he really knew he overstayed his season with the nightlife.

“But when God sits you down he always has a plan to stand you back up,” Robinson said.

That came with the network marketing movement. While still fighting the case he would eventually be exonerated from, his roommate introduced him to a company that was on the rise and could possibly afford him the ability to pay off his lawyer fees.

Some of the vendors at Melanin Market in Willingboro on Saturday, March 25, 2023. Photo by Meredith Winner/Mer-Made Photography.

The company also would allow him to learn a new skill and put money into the pockets of his whole network which he had been unconsciously growing since he was a teenager.

With nothing to lose, Robinson jumped on the opportunity, and just like that, he was back to promoting. This time, instead of hosting nightclubs, he was hosting business meetings that had the power to change people’s financial life for the better.

It was at these events where he would fine tune his skills and learn from successful entrepreneurs of all backgrounds about building and sustaining wealth. This path of financial enlightenment was also where he would meet key people that would spark the ideas that drive him to this day.

Harry Walker Jr.

One of those people was the late “great” Harry Walker, Jr. Robinson credits him with being an instrumental part of his life and inspiring him to take his entrepreneurship to the next level.

Walker was the founder of the Youth Business League and started a New Black Wall Street movement, an idea that would inspire the birth of the Melanin Market Experience we all know today. After almost being brought to tears speaking about Harry’s impact on the community, we both took a moment of silence to honor his late mentor.

I will ask those reading to do the same, Rest in Peace to Mr. Harry Walker, Jr.

In summation to our conversation, Lamar revealed to me about some of his plans for 2024 and beyond and they are nothing less than spectacular.

Those plans include taking the Melanin Market Experience national with large venues across the country, to growing the Business Club membership that will continue to host events and be a hub for entrepreneurs everywhere to grow, work, and network daily.

So, the next time you attend an iconic event like the Melanin Market Experience, or stop in at the Business Club, talk to the people who put it together, and find out about their experiences. As you can see in this brief peek into Lamar’s life, everyone’s path is straightforward.

Most are filled with twists and turns that rival those of roller coasters. But even when the journey looks dark and you feel out of place, remember that the door to the right path is never too far away.

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