Ruby Lockhart, Zakiya McAdams-King and Anthony King
In this segment of StoryCorps Rochester, Anthony King, Zakiya McAdams King, and Ruby Lockhart share a conversation about their experiences working together at "All Day Sunday", the longest running tenant of the now-closed Midtown Plaza and a cultural staple in the local Black community.
Recorded July 15, 2021
My name is Anthony King, I'm 48 years old. Today is Thursday July 15 2021. I am in Rochester New York. And my conversation partners are Zakia McAdams King who is my business partner and spouse and also will be Lockhart who is my former employer and mentor. My name is the key and Mackenzie King. I am 46 years old. Today's Thursday, July 18 2021. I'm in Rochester, New York. My conversation partners are Anthony King key is my business partner and my spouse and Ruby Lockhart. She is my mentor, my friend, my spiritual mother, on and on and on.
I was on the wrong channel. Nevermind. Hi, my name is Ruby Lockhart. I'm 75 years old. Today is July 15th. I'm in Rochester, New York. The name of my conversation partners are Anthony King and Zakia McAdams king. And my relationship is I was their previous employer and mentor and friend. The store looks great. Thank you. Welcome.
Sorry, my glasses were being delivered.
I can't hear. I said go ahead. I did me. So what do we do next? You, you jump into your conversation as planned. Okay. So conversation, I wanted to invite Akia. And Anthony, because they've just opened their new business, which is resemble resembles the business that my husband and I previously ran All Day Sunday, which was in Midtown Plaza. And we did that for 32 years. And during that 32 years, we met a lot of young people who were entrepreneurial, and spirit, and who were just different than your run of the mill young people. And Ziggy and Anthony are replicas of those spirits. So we started children at about 14 years of age. We had a training program, which incorporated not just training in business, but training in life, and working in the community and doing outreach and political activities, and just really understanding about life, and how to be a full participating partner in life and how to own it. So I met Ziggy, actually, she worked for me for free before I realized she was there every day. And so that's how she got hired. She used to come every single day. And she was like an asset. And I didn't realize that she was really there every day. So I said, Well, do you need a job? And she took a job. And Anthony I met him. And Anthony, I really don't know where you came in to our lives, or whether I was actually the person that hired you or not.
I think Rick brought me in. I was home on break from college one summer in, ran into Rick outside of the store and said, Hey, man, I need a job. And so he brought me in on a Saturday to try out. Do you guys have tryouts? Yes. I did my tryout one Saturday. And I brought me on board.
And the interesting thing about that what Anthony's mentioning is the tryouts is that we gave people interviews for whole day to see if they would fit in and to see if they would click. And the other side of that is that we were a business who hired relatives and friends of employees. We found that we got a much better spiritual mix, and people who could work together by knowing each other and supporting each other. So that was part of our mission. Our mission was a training socialist store, which sold black products in Rochester, New York. And we catered to the black community, which really meant that we sold to everyone because in America if you are selling and it's popular and it's black, everybody's going to buy it. So there was a no limits where that's concerned. But our main focus was as black people, black products, black pride and black culture, and similarly what Ziggy and Anthony are doing now with their bookstore, and they could describe their philosophy. But we were there to make money while doing good in the community and giving back at the same time. So we were a big philanthropic store, as small as we were. We were about, I think, seven or eight employees. But during that time, even before Anthony and Ziggy, we had health insurance for employees, and benefits for employees, because my husband was a manager of the store, he was a community outreach person. And I was a labor specialist for the teachers union. I worked for New York State United Teachers for 23 years. So I basically was the employees rep. You know, my role in the business became representing the employees and helping them to understand that they had a voice, and that they were important, and we wouldn't be there without them. That's how I met them. Your turn girly?
Yeah, for me, the sore was the first time I walked into all the Sunday, it was a sense of, I'm home, as I was meant to be here. I didn't know in what capacity I was to be there, which is why I was working for free. But I was meant to be there. This awesome woman with dreadlocks and purple Birkenstocks and this bald headed guy, they were just the most amazing what in the world to me. And as I started working there, the biggest thing for me is Ruby and Gene allowed each and every one of their employees to be themselves. And if we were not aware of gifts or talents that we had, they knew those gifts and talents, and they pushed us to be better than what we thought we were. Which meant that we all became productive members of society. Everyone who worked at that store is doing something in some capacity right now, that is edifying to someone else. And that I cannot say mentioned any job I've ever had were All Day Sunday and the training that I got it All Day Sunday did not come into play. Opening this bookstore was organic for Anthea night because it was like, Okay, we're having a midlife crisis. Let me do what I love and what made me comfortable. And there's so many talents and gifts that I found that I had working at All Day Sunday that would go on identified anyplace else. That's true. For us, this is kind of like picking up the torch. And it was such that we didn't have to ask anyone's permission. This was what we were supposed to be doing. It's Ruby is never anything but a phone call away. That not having to call her I think speaks volumes, because she taught us more than she…
Absolutely. I'd like to pick up on that because I've made that point to other people who were interested in starting a business similar to ours. And you can't just start a business if you're not a personality, and if your spirits not in it, and if you're in it just to make money. That's not what we were about. We made a lot of money. But it wasn't because that was the focus. The focus was helping people understand their value. And in Rochester, New York, downtown Rochester was at 85% Black people. The mall was 90% Black on any given day because the school kids came through that mall. And how people were treated mattered to us, because they were singled out loud black kids running through the mall. So my husband and I would have to step in and go they're no different than kids in suburban malls. So we made buying in Rochester in a store like ours, user friendly. We treated everyone with respect. We didn't prejudge anyone. And every Saturday as they're talking about, we had a class that call that was called No thanks. I'm just looking. And it was a book that, you know, by Friedman, and we read that book every Saturday, all through the year and new people who came in they had To jump in to reading that book, because it taught you how not to prejudge and prequalify people, and how to really make sales, which is what the training was all about. So, for our people, not only do did they just make sales, but they participated in, for instance, the Million Man March, you know, we made 1000s of shirts and sold out for the mosque in our community. For Jesse Jackson's campaign, you know, buttons, and shirts, and things like that. All of the rap stars that came through Rochester came into our store, we were affiliated with WD Kx, the black radio station, so we had a powerful voice, and bringing people into the store, big for the culture. Also, one of the other things that was really important to us was setting up scholarships to help our students succeed. So if you started with us at 14, and you stayed until you're in 12th, grade, you are guaranteed assistance throughout your four years of college, and we had many young people who actually were able to accomplish and to take advantage of that. The way it paid off for me is that I had people who came back every year on break, Easter summer, you know, all Christmas, all of those breaks, I for my keys, part of my day, I had people who were already invested in the company. So that's how we operated. We always used the last person who was hired, trained the next person who came in, so that we could have quality control to see if the training and the philosophy was being passed on correctly, and everybody would get to listen and to correct that person. So, you know, like Ziggy and Anthony books, we became the premier bookstore, in Rochester, New York, for Black Books, black culture, black art, black, you designers. So that's kind of the niche that we carved out for ourselves, all the while being a part of the community, and working to assist other people who may be less fortunate than we were. And it just paid off for us that way.
You know, a key thing it to the All Day Sunday staff that I think, unfortunately, this generation has, is social media. There was no social media, but he had phones on their phone we might have for major in our pocket. But there were no you weren't on Facebook, you weren't on Instagram, you were talking to each other, you were always in a face to face conversation. Thus, we had a very close knit relationship outside of work as employees. That was instrumental, because we all had different backgrounds. And I think for me, personally, that helped me grow as an individual. I learned how to respect different people, it was just that simple. It was an amazing experience. That is something I can never replicate. That was a wonderful time in history. With our store, I hope that we get big enough to start having young people come in, work on Saturdays, get to know, culture, get to appreciate their culture, appreciate black literature, black, our black designers. One big thing that we do in the store is we have conversations with everyone that comes in, right? You hear what's going on how you doing? You know, it eventually gets to are you buying something, but you know, creating those personal relationships where people just want to come in and say, Hey, how you doing? Those are things that build our business and create a long standing business. And those are fundamental elements again, from All Day Sunday, you talk to everyone.
I think that's really important to pick up on because not only did we talk to everyone, you had to talk to everyone, people who were disability who had disabilities or who may not be that kind of you want to go up to them. Our people went up to everyone because you never could judge what kind of day that person was having, what that person may want, who they may want it for. So the training that she's pulling out, talking to people not just the weather, what they have on those types of things, it creates that relationship of not just sales people, but of people who are concerned and who are interested, and who are there for more than the dollar. And you were gonna say something I'm sorry.
Yeah, I think we just we created a whole culture behind that, you know, even for me being impacted as a youngster, you know, as a preteen, and I started my junior high days, I would catch the bus. And that's all I got exposed to All Day Sunday. So I was one of those kids, right? Who would go by and just kind of go in the store and linger and maybe I could buy a button or maybe, you know, back then named belts and different things like that. So I wasn't a big spender, but I was always, you know, received in that space. So growing up, you know, after college, it was like a no brainer, man, when I came home on my own work there, I went to work there, right. And what I found was, there was a redirection, right? For me personally, because I wanted to, you know, do this, I wanted to go back to college. And I figured, you know, this is not really I kind of like what I'm doing, you know, what I mean? And I'm learning something valuable here. Right. And I think a lot of young kids that we think about, you know, we can we can name the names, like as she was, she was one of the young people when I was working there who would come in after school, and she ended up working there, you know, incredible success story there. And just, you know, all of us does explain all of us that work there. I mean, you guys really gave us something that we may not have known at the time, right? What was being instilled in us. But I have to really attribute all of my, you know, whatever business savvy I have, and just cultivating that entrepreneurial spirit, I got from from Eugene, you know, and it came down to even for us, we're looking at, hey, what can we be good at? What do we what are we passionate about? Right? And in the midst of that, what can we make the most money doing while we're while we're doing that? And so it was, it really was, it was a no brainer. But those those lessons, those values, you know, I didn't, I didn't pick those up. You know, in college, I didn't pick those up and even other jobs. I picked that up at All Day Sunday, you know what I mean? So you guys may not have always known it, but I was paying attention. I was watching.
I know you were paying attention, or else you would know you weren't paying attention. That kind of relationship that we have, because everybody gets called out. And US business like that. There's no place to hide. Everything about you, is on display. And it's in camera all the time. And so you can't pretend that you're somebody that you're not if you're working for us, because my husband was I don't know if he was the worst or the best, as you're calling people out. Because, you know, he would say the most direct things, to the men and women who worked in that store that I've ever heard. I'm from a labor background. We're politically correct. We don't cross the line in my real world. But in the world that I came to, in all day, Sunday, is there, everything was off the table. There were no rules, except our rules. You know, the only guide was our guide. And everybody took to it like, you know, wow, I always wanted someone to boss me around and hold me accountable and make sure that I was living up to expectation then encouraging me to go on to college, and you know, all the things that you would want young people to develop them. If you were in our store. That's what we were doing, because we didn't go there. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, almost 365 days, not to make a difference. Right when there was strife in the community. We were out there. We were on the radio. We were talking about it. And we were trying to make it a change. And I guess a bit one of the biggest things we've done a lot of big things. But we start at black Santa Claus. And Chester, New York mainstream, because as I said the mall was 90% black, but there were no black Santas. There were no black police officers or security guards. And so to show my employees, I became president of the tenants Association. We had black Santa women, security guards, black security guards, we had all of the things that met the population of the people that we serve downtown. And it worked really well because people respected us and realize that we were only the For the good, because we didn't have to do that we want it to do that. And it made a difference. And like Anthony was saying, when he was a kid, we have four or five generations, who came back for family reunions. You know, we printed T shirts, and we made hats. And we did all of those things. And so people came back year after year, to use us to celebrate being a family.
Interesting, we still have the social media page for that. And there's people trickling in and liking the page and commenting on photos. So it's a very, it's an, it's an astounding thing, you know, and it's something that that really left an imprint on the community, anyone who's from Rochester knows about All Day Sunday. And they remember it, you know, and they'll remember something specific about it. They all remember, Ruby, yourself and Frank and just, you know, the whole crew.
So they remember when we pay us their babies earrings, right? When we ordered their name plates, you know, when we celebrated a christening or had Christening Gowns for children, and you know, and they'll take, they'll show me, you see, I still have these, I still have earrings. So we are in a town where we're despite the fact that we closed in 2000 Was it to 2002 It's like you would think that we're still open when you go out in the street in my name is Mrs. All Day Sunday. I don't remember real name. My name isn't Ruby Lockhart. It's Ruby Sunday, or something like that. But I've been really appreciative and gratified. Because every generation since 1969, when we opened the first store, which was an African store, all of the employees, even back then who are still in our lives, they have a similar story about what the store and what being able to express themselves and be who they are actually meant to them. And the one fun thing that Jean always said, is that when you come into the store, and you're an employee, it's like you're joining the band. And I've heard everybody wants to be with a band member. So while people are coming at you really quickly, don't forget, they're only coming at you because you're in our band. And you know, you can be fired from the band. So don't get so full of yourself because you're on stage like that, right? So there were a lot of really critical, like, get yourself together, you're not all that. And the one thing I loved about the young employees from 14 to 13, or whatever they were, is that they weren't afraid of us. You know, they weren't afraid to share their opinions. They weren't afraid to express what no matter how it sounded. Even if other employees disagreed, everybody felt safe in that store. Because we were in charge and safe. And they were allowed to be who they were. And that was the most important thing.
You listened, you listened. And you know, even as young people, young people do stupid things, let's be honest. Some young people did some dumb things while in the store, but it was like there was never any shame. There. Like acknowledge it move on. Let's look better. You know, the feeling of there was always a sense of being at work. You wanted to come to work every day like you don't want to miss work, you couldn't miss work, but you wanted to come to work every day you had your chest poked out you were prideful, going to work every day. And you know, those are things that I even taught my son as I was raising my child. There are so many things I learned All Day Sunday that helped me in my professional life, personal life and being a mom, even down to you know, our sales training. The first book I gave Sekou when he asked about selling suits because that's what he does. How do I sell? I gave him no thanks just looking. I'm not a salesperson, you know, I do what I can, but this is how I learned. Got it. He's great at what he does. But I was able to instill the audacity to do what you want to do and be who you want to be at a high level. Being able to instill those values in my son was something that most people don't get. I got the opportunity to be it All Day Sunday. Get my chops up, love who I am. And it just made my process my Life process easier. valuable, because I'm able to laugh at myself. And that's very important. Everybody at All Day Sunday can laugh at themselves. Because we go, you're making yourself much too important. That was kind of like it, you know, you're not all that you're just making yourself much too important. Calm down. And you know, we can the I can have to share my funniest experience, because I'm a little bit intuitive, and clairvoyant. And while Ziggy saying, you know, we just were so close and knew everything. And you could read a person's face and all of that one day, I don't even think it was there. He didn't work there then. But she came in the store, and she's walking like this, her heads down. I said, Wow, what happened? Did your rabbit die? And it did. She was pregnant. Yep. And I could just see it on her face. Like, you know, there's something serious here. And most employers would not, once again, politically correct. That's not the way you play with employees, or you come across to employees, but we had that kind of relationship. And when the children of employees start coming, they become a part of the family, you know, so their parents can show them what they're doing, and how they do it, and who the people are they work with, and how we, you know, provide for others outside of ourselves and do community service. We did community service every single year on some major topic, you know, depends on what it is, you know, when they wanted to close the mall downtown on Sundays. You know, Sunday's the biggest shopping day during Christmas season. But they decided, well, you know, we're not making a lot of money, we'll close. We decided that you can't close us. So we said, Okay, well, we'll rent the mall. Do you know how many stores in a mall? Well, anyway, we rented the mall. And we said, whoever wanted to open food court, whoever they can open, and we'll take care of that day. We that day was one of the biggest days in the history of that mall. And when the mall closed, people were still lined up around the block to get the black Santa Claus. So it was way after closing hours that people were still coming. And we did that every Sunday for four Sundays. Yeah, it got bigger and bigger and bigger. That's just to show our employees that, you know, when one door closes, you figure out a way to make it work for you. So that's what we've always done together. And those were the I they were just exciting times, you know, while it was in the 90s. In the early 2000s. A lot of changes were being made in the types of I don't know the way Politically Correct, correct. People were in sales, and what you could say to people and what you couldn't say, and what we said, If you don't like what we say in here, don't come here. Sorry. It was rough. Yeah, it was kind of rough. But if you don't like what we're about, just don't come here. It's okay with us. And that seem cruel, but people kind of got it. You dictate to other stores and businesses, nobody dictates to us. That's just the way it is. So that's the All Day Sunday story. There's so many great people who've gone on to have careers that are truly exciting. And, you know, as a result of knowing us and claiming that we had that impact on their lives, they had an impact on our life. Ziggy and I are still very close. Because she gets me. I mean, she can figure me out before I can figure me out. I'm serious, and that that's the way it was when we work together. She'd already know what I want it before I wanted it. And that's what I love about her and it wasn't like she felt like she was the second class citizen. We were partners, and I relied on her I relied on everyone. You know, Anthony Rapp ran the jewelry department. Yeah, that's the biggest department in the store. You know, but he liked it. His personality. Was it crazy like his wives. He was a normal kind of straight narrow person, you know? So right.
You were the black dark engraved, that's what we call
Well, yeah, they remind me a lot of my husband and myself, because we had to live our lives and camera, you know, in front of all of these people. So whatever was going on with us, was not a secret. And so they got to figure out how to work out issues in public the way we worked out our issues in public. So that's what I have to say, I really appreciate this interview. And I appreciate the having the conversation and sharing the love with people who are doing great things and who will continue to. And thanks, guys for joining me.
Well, absolutely. One thing I do want to say right, quick, the ability to teach young people that they are awesome, but at the same time, teach them to be humble people. Is that amazing? And that's something that you and Gene gave us that. I just can't thank you enough for.
Yeah, I was just I'm so I'm still to this day grateful for just being accepted into that village. I knew that Saturday, like when I was I was interviewing. It was it was a crapshoot, you know, either they were gonna keep me on and they saw something, or not, you know. So, I lucked out, you know, and I stuck around for a while and a long time, it become a village for us. And I come from a large family. So for that, outside of my, you know, the immediate family, to have another family like that, and it was family, you know, and even some of my siblings, you know, have wanted to adapt themselves into the All Day Sunday. It was just a wonderful experience. And, you know, I always knew somewhere in the back of my mind always knew I would do something with what I picked up there because it was too valuable. It was, and I just, I've always been appreciative of it, I probably been a knucklehead at times, Ruby, where it didn't look like I appreciated it.
No, no, not at all.
I always did so. And I'll share another thing other people have come in and they tried to, you know, they looked at this business, and it said, Oh, wow, you know, do you remember such and such a place? And, you know, we have to remind some people like, you know, this is, this is a baby have All Day Sunday. No other business, you know, it may, you may make some comparison, but this is definitely, this is All Day Sunday DNA at its core, you know, and so, we, we proudly proclaim that, you know, we're trying to build our own brand, but we know that we stand on the shoulders of giants, right? And we didn't just pop up and, you know, just being able to do something like this, right? That came from years of training and development, and then it had to marinate for several decades, and then boom, it came into fruition. So I'm grateful to be in. I think, you know, both of you, you guys are doing a phenomenal job. Just keep it up and stay true to each other. That's the key. You know, when you work in a public business like that, you know, you have your detractors, and what makes it sweet is that you don't pay them any mind. Cuz we're gonna be there. Right, right. Thank you. Have we do we're done.