Dapper South Bend man achieves goal of store at university park mall

MISHAWAKA  — Corey McKinney’s garments retailer all the time had loyal clients.

These clients did not all the time know the place to search out him. McKinney, a 1993 Riley Excessive Faculty graduate, offered footwear from the trunk of his automotive.

“I went to a lot of different locations on the west side, the north side and the west side, and a lot of people asked me why I moved so much,” he recalled. “Of course, it wasn’t always me.

“It was only a highway that the Lord took me on.”

That road eventually took McKinney to the place where he had long wanted to be. He reached his goal of opening a store at University Park Mall. That store, Garb’s, opened last month in the location once occupied by Aldo.

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“It was all the time my need to return out to the mall although I used to be within the neighborhood and I actually preferred dealing within the neighborhood as a result of that’s the place I got here from,” McKinney said.

“That’s my tradition. I got here from the west aspect of city and the north aspect of city, and  I actually get pleasure from coping with these individuals.

“But I was looking at the bigger picture.”

Corey McKinney shows items available at his store Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 at Garb's in the University Park Mall.

And for McKinney, the larger image means having a presence in a spot the place practically everybody who walks by way of the doorways is intending to purchase one thing. It means having an indication above the doorway with the enterprise’s title emblazoned on it. It means being at a location the place parking just isn’t a problem and costumers anticipate to be protected.

McKinney sells the brightly coloured gown footwear, hats and fits you will notice when attending or visiting a Black church, and people who find themselves members of the world’s traditionally African-American homes of worship make up a big portion of his buyer base.

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Being within the mall offers McKinney an opportunity to achieve a extra various costumer base, nonetheless. He famous loads of his clients adopted him to the mall, however Garb’s additionally will get numerous the sort of walk-in site visitors different shops at College Park Mall obtain as browsers seek for objects they cannot discover wherever else.

McKinney mentioned his secret weapon is the distinctiveness of his fashions.

Style and entrepreneurship have been massive elements of McKinney’s life. McKinney was a pastor’s child who spent a lot of his time in church and wearing fits, ties and gown footwear.

“My parents brought me up to dress up, and so that’s just what’s in me,” he mentioned.

McKinney’s fashion sense prolonged to highschool and likewise much less formal conditions, like hanging out with associates. McKinney mentioned he was massive into sports activities, and he’d typically be sporting fits and gown shirts whereas hanging out with associates.

“They would come to pick me up or I would come to pick them up, and I would be sitting on the sideline in a three-piece suit watching them play basketball.”

His father, Carl McKinney, labored for himself as a neighborhood automotive salesman.

“He would buy cars and then sell them to the parents in the neighborhood for $500 or $600 to help those kids get their first car,” McKinney recalled.

His father had well being points that compelled him to stop his job, and he offered the automobiles to offer for his household. Nonetheless, McKinney puzzled why his father, who was additionally a pastor, did not go to a job like the opposite neighborhood dads.

“He was able to explain to me what he did, and I really enjoyed the fact that he could do what he wanted to do,” McKinney mentioned. “That inspired me because I wanted to be able to work, make money, travel and spend time with my family.

“I am a household man and I actually love household.”

Corey McKinney, his daughter Camille and his mother Mary Beth pose for a portrait Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 at Garb's in the University Park Mall.

McKinney’s family includes his siblings, his wife Latisa, daughter Camille and his mother Mary Beth McKinney. McKinney said that his mom, wife, daughter and brother, Don, often help with the business.

“My mother is my greatest inspiration,” McKinney said. “I name her, and he or she might be proper right here serving to.”

McKinney got into the clothing business because his mother needed help finding church shoes.

“It was all the time exhausting for my mother to search out the first rate footwear that the church girls wore, so I began performing some analysis and ran throughout this firm and began shopping for footwear,” McKinney said.

Soon, he was selling ladies dress shoes from the trunk of his car. He bought a box van when the shoe boxes could no longer fit in the trunk. McKinney sold his shoes at barber shops and beauty salons. Businesses like banks allowed him to set up booths and sell shoes to their employees.

“However it all actually began at these barber outlets and wonder salons, and I thank God for them searching for me,” he said.

Soon, McKinney started selling men’s suits and moved into his first store front of many. He set up shop on Chapin Street. The store then moved to Western Avenue before going back to Chapin. McKinney then moved to Miami Street, Lafayette Boulevard and Lincolnway West.

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The only constant was the business’s name, Shoes, a name that referenced the store’s beginnings even if it didn’t reflect all of the items McKinney sold.

“I even offered garments out of my dwelling typically,” McKinney mentioned.

Corey McKinney shows items available at his store Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 at Garb's in the University Park Mall.

The constant moving and the ebbs and flows in business wore on him, and McKinney and he thought about giving up.

“I simply overpassed my imaginative and prescient,” McKinney said when asked why he considered shuttering the business. “However individuals stored calling me and asking if I had fits, and I mentioned that if individuals want fits that unhealthy I have to get again into the enterprise.”

McKinney said he actually had a chance to go to the mall two years ago, but he didn’t believe he was ready.

“To me, the mall is an enormous deal, and I wasn’t prepared then, however I am prepared now,” he said. “I grew up mentally and I knew that the objects I offered wanted to be within the mall and wanted to be in entrance of extra individuals.”

Email South Bend Tribune reporter Howard Dukes at [email protected]

Observe him on Twitter: @DukesHoward

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