[Photo by Andrea V. Watson]
BRONZEVILLE — $25 suits, $12 dress pants and a $1 rack are the kind of prices small business owner Mandene T. Muhammad calls affordable.
The West Englewood native opened a new resale shop geared specifically for men at the beginning of November in Bronzeville. Legacy Men’s Boutique, 4655 S. King Drive, is located in suite 103, next to Uncle Joe’s Tropical Dining.
[Video by Andrea V. Watson]
“I want to make sure it’s affordable to people,” he said. “I want to have quality clothes at thrift store prices. I do believe I have the best prices on the South Side, as far as men are concerned. I just want to make it available to them.”
His shop carries suits, slacks, jeans, jackets, ties, shoes and accessories, with many of them under $25, but some items have higher price tags. There’s also a fitting room so customers can try the clothes on before purchasing.
Muhammad works at the Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah Muhammad (C.R.O.E.), “an archival library and information center dedicated to the Nation of Islam Leader, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” according to the Chicago Crusader. “The organization’s primary mission is to make sure the name, accomplishments, and ideas are remembered.”
Muhammad is an office manager and works with their television station. Although he doesn’t have any business experience, and the last time he worked in a clothing store was in high school, he said he had a desire to provide the men in his community with affordable quality clothes.
[Mandene T. Muhammad helps customers coordinate and accessorize. Photo/Andrea V. Watson]
[Shirts range in price from $1-15. Photo by Andrea V. Watson]
“I just stepped out and took a chance,” he said. “I’m still excited.”
This idea to open a store wasn’t born overnight, it was two years in the making, and before that, he would freely give away his own clothes to young men who needed a good suit and tie for job interviews or graduation luncheons.
He said he never forgot where he came from. His aunt raised him and he saw firsthand how she did the best she could with the little she had. They would shop at thrift stores.
As an adult, he began shopping a little too often, he joked.
“I realized I was sort of a lightweight shopaholic and I had a lot of clothes in there with tags on them,” Muhammad said.
The new store attracts everyone, but he said he’s particularly pleased to be a place where young men on a budget can shop. He said he happily assists and enjoys coordinating.
“It’s a great feeling,” Muhammad said.
His friend, Earl Rahman, said that Muhammad had been talking about opening a store for quite some time.
“He didn’t just talk about it, he made it happen and I’m proud of him,” Rahman said, adding that this type of business is needed.
“He and I used to find the discount stores and there’s nothing around here,” he said. “You have to go further north. There’s always a discount store for women. This is a great idea and location.”
Legacy Men’s Boutique is open Tuesday through Friday in the evening, 5:30-8 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. -6 p.m. Clothing donations are welcome.