By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
Rocky Parrish is not the kind of man who likes to ride the wave he makes them. Whether in his one time role as an outspoken sports talk host at D.C.’s 106.7 The Fan, or now as a full time sports retail businessman, Parrish has never knocked on doors he’s always kicked them in.
This weekend, Parrish will become the second Black retail owner at the National Harbor Waterfront when his RockDeep/RDevine sports apparel “boutique” brings his business back to his roots in southern Maryland. The 1990 graduate of Oxon Hill High School – whose mother lives in the shadows of the Gaylord Resort and Conference Center – is set to debut his “dual concept” athletic and casual footwear, literally in his backyard.
“It’s important for me to bring this store to my old neighborhood,” Parrish tells the AFRO. “It adds a little something to be in Oxon Hill even though its called Waterfront National Harbor these days.”
There won’t be any three stripe, swoosh, or interlocking vowels on merchandise in the store. Parrish, whose radio personality was aggressive and in your face, is, in reality, subtle and understands in order for his brand to become a big baller in the shoe game he has to let the style do the talking. He is not overpricing his items and nothing in the store will cost more than $100. Parrish is hoping that competitive prices and unisex athletic fashions will be a hit with tourists and local residents as well.
“How am I going to charge somebody a hundred dollars for a pair of shoes when I couldn’t afford 100 shoes when I was growing up,” Parris said in the midst of preparing for the building’s fire marshall inspection. “Our goal is to provide functional styles that are high quality so everybody can afford them.”
Parrish promises to be on the cutting edge with conventional styles of sneakers augmented by those with eccentric designs and colors. Since women comprise most of the clientele breaking into yoga apparel would put him in rare company among Black manufacturers in the game just starting out.
This spring has been a corporate whirlwind for the brand in the neighborhoods surrounding the Woodrow Wilson Bridge- which connects southern Maryland to northern Virginia. Since February, RockDeep/RDevine has opened two Virginia locations. The first opened in the Delray section of Alexandria on February 16 and on May 4 they cut the ribbon on the second store in Old Towne Alexandria. “I remember 40 years ago when if you looked like us you would be taking a chance walking in that neighborhood,” Parrish reflects. “Now I’m selling shoes in a building owned by the Mason’s. That’s just happenstance.”
By the end of 2019, Parrish hopes to open a store in D.C. Parrish says there is the potential to capture the first responders market who yearn for “quality and functionality” in their work equipment.
However, Parrish’s business model is not the conventional one where the company hopes to become solvent enough to either be purchased by a large company or be sold altogether. He is motivated to make his mark on his community allowing others to buy into the RockDeep/RDevine franchise and to make his mark by helping others with profits from his business.
“I want to do what [Robert Smith] did for the students at Morehouse, that’s what drives me.” said Parrish. “The more consumers support us the more we can do for the community.”
Parrish doesn’t have any grand plans for the store’s opening other than, “cutting the ribbon and promising folks will leave with great deals.”