Get to know Rhonda Morrison. She runs the House of Morrison Shoe Repair, which was started by her father, the late Theodore Morrison in 1954. She has worked at the business almost her entire life, starting in 1983, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Her interest in her father’s business dates back to her school days when she attended old McKerrow Elementary, 4800 Collingwood. She recalled being picked up by her father regularly at lunchtime to an earlier location of the family’s business on Joy Road, just east of Grand River.
While there, she would wait for lunch to be served while she listened to the jazz music her dad played and took inventory of how the business operated.
Decades down the line, Morrison now oversees the family business and she is excited to be surrounded by fellow business neighbors who share a vision that House of Morrison has helped to shape on Detroit’s iconic Avenue of Fashion for over five decades.
“In this business corridor, we share a vision of being successful, and what we have figured out is that the best way for us all to be successful is to work together,” Morrison told the Pree Press. Her block, located between Clarita and 7 Mile Road, is home to businesses that provide services like hair care, skincare, shoe care, optical care, clothing, art, pet supplies, and an increasing variety of foods.
The businesswoman is also known for providing support to business owners on her block on how to overcome challenges. She is the go-to person when it comes to approaching someone to share a business idea or expansion moves.
According to her, during the pandemic and after, her hugs were especially needed. “Where there is confusion, I always try to find a solution. And sometimes all you have to do is just give a big ole hug,” explained Morrison. “That is what’s needed sometimes — just shut out all of that conflict and confusion and bring it to a hug. I do that because I was hugged all of my life growing up.”
One such business owner who remembers Morrison’s hugs is Sevyn Jones, owner of Skin Bar VII at 18951 Livernois. The 43-year-old and other business owners even call her Queen Mother.
“Her (Morrison’s) hugs are infectious,” said Jones. “And if there is a problem, once that hug goes down, the problem is solved because the hug came from the Queen Mother.”
By managing House of Morrison Shoe Repair, Morrison is continuing with her father’s legacy. Oftentimes, black businesses do not last three to four generations largely due to poor succession planning and the lack of structure and business systems, experts say.