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Detroiter opening vintage clothing shop in Corktown discovers deep roots

The building that will house Mama Coo's Boutique

As determined as Lana Rodriguez has been to open her Mama Coo's Boutique in a brick-and-mortar storefront, she's been just as determined to keep the business where she grew up, in southwest Detroit. Fortunately for her, Rodriguez recently signed a letter of intent to lease the storefront at 1707 Trumbull St. for her resale and vintage clothing business in the city's Corktown neighborhood.

Then she learned something incredible about the building when she took a picture of it soon after signing the lease. "I showed my mom the picture and she just started laughing," says Rodriguez.

Call it fate, chance, or whatever you want, but the building Rodriguez is renting in 2016 is the exact same building that housed her grandparents' first apartment when they moved from Texas to Detroit in the 1950s. Rodriguez had no idea.

The Rodriguez's roots in Corktown go even deeper. Across the street from Mama Coo's future home is a statue of Father Clement Kern, an influential priest in the community who lead the congregation at Most Holy Trinity Church for three decades. Father Kern is also the reason the Rodriguez family, previously Pentecostal, converted to Catholicism. Lana's grandmother promised Father Kern that if he said a prayer for a daughter sick with tuberculosis and she survived, Lana's grandmother would convert the family. Lana's aunt recovered and Father Kern would go on to baptize a number of her family members.

Mama Coo's Boutique is an upscale resale and vintage clothing shop. Rodriguez makes her own accessories and other wearables, which she'll sell. She'll also bring in outside artists and let them use her space for pop-ups and other events.

Earlier this month, Rodriguez was awarded $18,000 by the city's Motor City Match program. She says the money will help her get off on the right foot and not be hindered by up-front financial constraints. It will also benefit others in the community.

"Motor City Match allowed me to purchase items from local artists and makers through wholesale and not just on consignment," says Rodriguez. "This way I can support local artists directly and they don't have to wait to be paid."

Rodriguez found the storefront with the help of TechTown, where she graduated from the retail bootcamp program. While she wanted a location closer to the Bagley strip of Mexicantown, Rodriguez found the building on Trumbull to be perfect in size, aesthetics, and history.

She'll have a number of new neighbors, too. As Rodriguez hustles to open, also opening in the building will be a barber shop, a small market later in the summer, and hopefully two more businesses in the fall.

Mama Coo's Boutique is expected to open in June. It is located at 1707 Trumbull St.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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