BUSINESS

A ‘Rebel Rags’ to Riches Story: Oxford businessman works his way out of poverty

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Tamera Staples
HottyToddy.com
tastaple@go.olemiss.edu

As an employee of Rebel Rags, Maddie Welch enjoys meeting  Rebel fans who come in the store to purchase “everything Ole Miss.” The store, located at 2302 Jackson Ave W. in Oxford, that opened Oct. 6, 2006, celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.

“When I started working here, I had no idea that football season would be this busy for the store,” Welch said. “It’s like a rush of fans waiting to be in unison with one another wearing the color of the game and supporting Ole Miss. I’m just glad that our store allows everyone to come and have fun and look sporty while doing it.”

Rebel Rags is owned by Terry Warren. “Growing up, my family was poor, and we did not have too much of anything,” he said. “Money was limited, so really all my family had was each other.

‘If something needed to be done around the house, we fixed it ourselves. Or if we needed a paint job on the house, we painted it ourselves. Back then, for us, every penny mattered.”

“Growing up, I knew that I didn’t want to live like that my entire life, but I appreciate those times and lessons because it made a man out of me. There aren’t too many men in today’s society that if something broke or needed fixing around the home would know how to fix it, or if something needed to be built, could build it. I learned all of it growing up.”

Warren said he takes pride knowing he can both manage and fix issues that arise within the business. He’s also proud of the fact that he conceived the idea for the business and made it work.

‘Having a small town like Oxford with a big university, is like taking a poor country boy to Disney World,” he said. “I am not the smartest person, but I made my ideas work success for me.”

Warren said Oxford needed a store like Rebel Rags for students and their families, so he decided to create one.

“You have kids coming from everywhere to attend Ole Miss, as well as play sports, and it’s new for them and their family,” Warren said. “They come to Oxford looking for something to take back home to represent where their child is.”

Rebel Rags is supported by students, their families and diehard Rebel fans.

“If it was not for the fans who constantly support the university, Rebel Rags would not be as successful,” Warren said. “Everything boils down to the people who support the school who constantly spend their money on something to represent what they support, Ole Miss.”

When students come to Rebel Rags, Warren said they come to be part of something bigger than themselves.

“Rebel Rags allows them to do so,” he said. “Anything that could possibly have Ole Miss on it, my store has it. I keep in mind the community and longtime supporters of Ole Miss, as well as the newcomers.

“There is a wide variety for different age groups and events. I mean the store is huge. I even expanded the store to add more T-shirt designs and home décor.”

Warren said Rebel Rags was a way for his family to escape poverty.

“I had to do something to get myself and my family off the grounds of being poor,” he said. “I did not go to college, because I felt like my family did not have the money to put me through college. We struggled enough to live day by day.

“So, after high school, I took my dream and made it a reality. I started my own business, which turned into businesses, and as the university and Oxford grew, so did my money. The key to being successful for me was to always have a plan and never just one way of income. I made sure that my businesses were all different.”

Warren also owns Home Town Storage. He said owning a variety of different businesses keeps his income steady.

“If one were to ever fail, I would still have something to fall back on,” he said. “Being poor is something I never want to feel again, and it is something I don’t ever want my family now to ever have to feel. It took hard work and believing in myself to get to where I am today.”

Welch said working at Rebel Rags has made her more in-tune with her inner Rebel.

“Football players from Ole Miss and former Rebels who have played for Ole Miss and are now in the league, come to Rebel Rags like it is their home,” she said. “They love it here. They bring family and friends, and everyone just buys different things in support of the school and their family member or friend.”

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