By Dylan Deprey
As Mike Scrill takes a quick lunch break between promoting The Milwaukee Mall and his Happy Hustlin’ clothing brand, a young man approaches him and asks if he wants to buy a loose cigarette while in the parking lot. Though he declines the young man’s offer, he acknowledges the hustle.
“It’s those kinds of people I want in my parking lot,” Scrill said.
Though he wasn’t talking about what the young man was selling because he could get a ticket, but rather the entrepreneurial spirit that he embraced. It was the potential and mentality that could be refined into a well-rounded business.
Scrill knows how easy it is to sell drugs and run the streets because he did it himself. Having been incarcerated and learned from his mistakes, he took the hustler mentality and studied how to run a business from the ground up. He took advantage of the slow days to learn
Some folks may claim that the Milwaukee Mall sitting on the corner of North Ave. and Fond Du Lac Ave. is dead, but Scrill and the other business owners inside think otherwise. From clothing and hair styling, to custom jewelry and social services, the Milwaukee Mall is a budding flower in the cracks of what some see as the crumbling cement of Milwaukee misfortune.
“What people don’t understand is I get enjoyment out of working. When I say, ‘hustling,’ I mean I’m striving for better,” Scrill said.
As his 35th birthday was coming up, Scrill said people from across the city were consistently hitting him up for advice about how he was running Happy Hustlin’ and the Milwaukee Mall.
“My inbox has been blowing up, and people would come up and ask, ‘Man how do you do this and how do you do that?’” Scrill said. “The best birthday gift is seeing the business people trying to link up and better themselves.”
So, instead of having a party at a night club or at a sporting event, he decided to host the Mike Scrill’s 35th Birthday Extravaganza “Giving Back to the Community” networking event in the Milwaukee Mall parking lot from Noon to 5pm on Saturday, September 16, 2017.
“I don’t care if you’re printing in your house, or cooking meals or whatever. I want everybody right here and to let them know that I appreciate and I identify you as a small business,” Scrill said.
Scrill said that education was the key to successful business, but many young people did not learn economics in school. He said that for some people, the closest thing they saw to economics was the ballers and drug dealers in their community.
There are many ways to start a business. Some do it as a family, others go to school and Scrill learned from trials and tribulations and an understanding that business required sacrifices. He said that even if an entrepreneur is living out of their car and running a business, anything is possible.
Along with free food, live entertainment and guest speakers, the event was meant for small business owners and entrepreneurs in the community to build alliances to strengthen and learn from each other.
“Once we get everybody together and connect the dots it becomes a pretty picture,” Scrill said.
With a week before the event, Scrill said there are still open spots for vendors and sponsors. He added that anybody with even an ounce of entrepreneur in them should stop through.
“I just want to see people grow because I’m not God, or a big politician, or a rich person, so I’m going to do what I can do to better my community,” Scrill said. “I’m trying to make this mall the best it can, and I’m going to work with what I’ve got to make it happen because that’s how much I love my city, and the people in the community.”