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Meet Dre Rodriguez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dre Rodriguez.

Hi Dre, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
My wife and I moved here from California just over a year ago. Wow, time flies! We weren’t initially looking to relocate to this beautiful side of the country. We were looking at homes in California (2020) when we visited some family out here.

It was my first time out here and I loved it. On our flight back home, I joked to my wife, “What if we just load up our cars and head out here?” Naturally it led us to go on Zillow and compare homes on our way back home. But for fun, of course.. After seeing what this place could offer us and our family, we got serious and started talking logistics. All on the flight home!

So we found ourselves moving across the country to Muletown (Columbia) a year later. And here I thought I would never leave San Diego. Born & raised. What a time!

Columbia is a great town with lots of charm. I have a background in the fashion and boutique space. I love going to boutiques. To buy rad apparel, catch a vibe, possibly a beer, and hang. That said, there weren’t any boutiques that had that in Columbia. The closest ones are up in Franklin, then north as get closer to Nashville.

I wanted to present a concept that I can build right here in Muletown.

There are a lot of small businesses highlighting Columbia & the greater southern life. I wanted to do that as well. A quality brand & boutique that can be true to the soil it’s in.

Enter Goon. A brand boutique specializing in fine goods and good times. More than a brand and boutique, with a strong focus on the community-I plan to have local acts perform, bring people in different professions to come to speak and engage in a Q & A event, collaborate with locals, etc.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Smooth with some challenges for sure. I connected with a friend who mentioned a building in the arts district that was coming up for lease.

I met with one of the owners of the building and we hit it off. He liked my concept.

The building took a few more months than expected & I was getting hit with interior furniture delays due to supply chain issues. But it worked out. It gave me more time to work on other areas of the business.

I had been working on Goon for about 8 months before opening. Talking to suppliers, and brands and placing orders. Then getting the website and assets built.

The main struggle was the delay. I planned out a late winter line thinking the boutique would open by January. Not ideal but I’ll take that over other stories I’ve heard. But also having a strong e-commerce presence helps that.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Goon! We’re the center for fine goods and good times. Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to start a new concept for Columbia. A place where you can purchase goods but also hang out. A place for events that bring the community together.

On top of that, I have Goon Agency – a business that provides services to the small businesses around town. Services in photography, e-commerce, social media, marketing, and more. I want to help the businesses here and connect myself with other business owners.

I have worked for Lone Flag, Norden Goods, and Bing Surfboards. I take a lot of inspiration from my experiences working there. Everything that Goon is can be attributed to those places. I love quality fabrics, denim, and accessories. Things that are constructed to last more than a season.

Most days you’ll see me wearing denim, a black tee, and some Vans.

This is new for Columbia. I hope to bring in special pieces you can’t find anywhere else in town. Also my digital presence-I want people who hop on the website or social media to see Columbia through Goon. So when you purchase something from the website, you’re really buying a piece of Columbia.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
I learned a lot. I actually didn’t want to start a business (let alone move across the country) during these unexpected circumstances. But success stories often come out of desperation or in the worst of times.

The biggest lesson I learned is adapting to change. Throughout this pandemic, there has been a lot of business affected. Most of my favorite businesses are now closed. Learning to constantly shift and find new areas to grow your business is crucial. I’m fortunate to start Goon after everything has opened back up, but nowadays it seems like there’s always something that could affect your business. Being open to change is necessary.

Also, Goon… GO ON. That was a constant motivation and encouragement for me. To keep going. Go on.

I love Goon. It’s a fun name, but the go-on meaning within the name is sweet. I don’t think I’ll ever separate the word into two, but it’s a great thing to see when I look at Goon.

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