GHCC believes every neighborhood should have a walkable commercial district, so we like to promote businesses that are helping to create that vibrant urban feel in Greater Homewood. Pam Corkran recently opened a consignment shop called Too Good to Be Thru in southern Charles Village near Barclay and Old Goucher. Here she shares her life experience in Baltimore and her journey to entrepreneurship.
I came to Baltimore in 1968, during what I call the Martin Luther King era. I lived in the 2100 Block of N. Calvert Street and attended the Margaret Brent Elementary School. What an era it was. We had a quiet neighborhood where everyone knew everyone, and I remember loving to play on the Lovely Lane Church steps.
But on the day Martin Luther King died, the world—or at least our street—lost its stability. The law of the land disappeared into chaos. Our street became a war zone filled with Army National Guard. At 10 years old, I had just come from West Virginia, and I was peeping out our 10 foot windows at tanks, trucks, and military men. I saw people throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks, National Guards beating people with batons, crowds scattering everywhere looting and destroying businesses. That was the beginning of my cultural transition in life—what an impact. But here I am, right back where I started when I came to Baltimore.
I’ve worked all my life, mostly two jobs at a time until I started to do foster care 18 years ago with The ARC of Baltimore. I am now the parent of two adopted children and two foster children, all with special needs. Once I realized the demand of working two jobs and caring for my special needs children, I resigned from one of my jobs and scaled back my work hours. Two years later, one of my foster children died from AIDS. I was devastated and just couldn’t seem to go back to my job, so I stayed home to care for my children. I worked on and off, taking time to care for the children when they needed me.
Now several years have passed and here I am again, starting a new venture in my life. Too Good to Be Thru Consignment Boutique was started with five girlfriends (myself included). We loved the idea of opening a business in the Charles Village area, where there are just so many new things happening: beauty salons, After 7 Apparel, a shop for tuxedos and women’s evening and church wear, and Studio 2113, a designer who makes excellent clothes. There may even be a café coming opening soon. These are exciting times!
As a mother of four I thought doing clothing would be great. We encountered several roadblocks along the way, including making sure our shop complied with Baltimore City’s building codes and zoning laws. But we prevailed with ongoing persistence and determination, and 18 months later I am here to prove it! Our shop is right in the middle of John Hopkins University, University of Baltimore, MICA, the Board of Education, Department of Social Services, and numerous non-profit organizations and small businesses. All within walking or bike riding distance—what a perfect location!