Southside entrepreneur uses store to teach business skills to youth


Located at 310 East 38th Street inside of Sabathani Community Center in Minneapolis, The Little Things That Count Gift Shop is a small community store involving the multi-talents of inner-city youth.

After school and on weekends, you will find neighborhood youth working in the store selling items including juice and soft drinks, snacks, hair care products, designer clothing and dress shoes, hats, belts, incense, women’s handbags, watches, wallets and gift items.

Southside entrepreneur Corey Byrd Sr., enjoys making hands-on contributions to the community. He is currently providing business and management skills to inner-city youth with The Little Things That Count Gift Shop.

Byrd has also operated Life Long Mentoring Agency for six years. He has been awarded county contracts involving child protection and in-home parenting. He would supervise visitation for at-risk families and youth.

Byrd’s theory was that if children could sell drugs, then they could utilize the same entrepreneurial mindset and street skills to sell merchandise that was legal. “Even though they are kids, they are still street wizards,” he said. “We are trying to turn their lives around.”

“You can take a kid from the ’hood to Harvard, but you can’t take a kid from Harvard to the ’hood,” stated Byrd. “The Harvard kid will get chewed up.
“My theory is change your product, and use the skill you have. Two for 25…five for 50. Give them that love,” Byrd continued.

Every Wednesday there is a 50-percent-off shelf on selected items. Also on Wednesdays, senior citizens receive a 10-percent discount year round.

Nathan McGraw, a Southside resident, was shopping for a pair of Perry Ellis tennis shoes. When asked why he shops at The Little Things That Count instead of a chain store inside the Mall of America, his response was better prices.

McGraw stated, “It is more of a common ground and [more] convenient than the malls.” He added, “The owner lives in the community, works in the community, helps the community, and makes you feel at home.”

Byrd started the entrepreneurial program in 2007. “We also have a Life Long Mentoring program where we offer behavior modification and behavior[al] services to at-risk youth [and young adults] from the ages of 14 to 25 years old,” Byrd stated.

The program includes youth who were previously involved with juvenile corrections. They are placed in a setting where they learn the daily operations of running a small business. They are responsible for keeping up with the inventory and monitoring daily sales journals. At the end of the week, they earn a payroll check.

“We started off with a table at Sabathani and evolved into this,” stated Byrd.

“What I am looking for is to show people that the best way to reach youth is through direct interaction.

“Our focus is the 38th Street community,” Byrd stated. If interested in the program, he added, individuals are encouraged to come in and see what the Life Long Mentoring program and the Sabathani community has to offer.

Byrd warns, “Check yourself. If you can’t keep a relationship with yourself, you are going to have problems building a relationship with someone else. You can’t run game on life. Street kids know fake from real. If they see fake, then you don’t have nothing coming,” Byrd added.

In the future, Byrd has plans on assisting the youth with opening a beauty supply store.

For more information on The Little Things That Count Gift Shop, contact them at 612-252-2415.

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