Fashion District business owners fear violence near Center City mall

Recent violence in the Fashion District has nervous shop owners, including a business whose mission is to keep kids out of trouble.

Sometimes hundreds of young people line up at a store in the Fashion District for an event, sometimes with freebies. However, the host felt that the violence made the atmosphere unsafe.

“You all have to calm down the young bulls. You are all on your way,” he said in a passionate plea posted on Instagram.

“If you all calm down, we’d be willing to do a different show,” said the owner of inspirational clothing brand HMBL, which stands for Keep Humble, Keep Hungry.

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“Have you seen this HMBL store? No matter what you do downtown, they’re coming to me,” Isaiah Thomas said. He took the message to his followers over Labor Day weekend after an incident involving the young man and a shooting near the Fashion District where his store is located.

“Gun violence and negativity, it’s not cool. I want them to know more about it here,” he said. Thomas spoke with Shawnette Wilson of FOX 29 after an incident on Tuesday in which police said an 18-year-old man, now in custody, was leaving the mall and shot inside.

“I just want to let as many kids as possible know that we all come from the same circumstances. I was locked up on a gun charge at 14 and I was able to overcome my barriers and circumstances,” Thomas explained. However, he worries that his brand prides itself on a nonviolent positive message and that his path to success will not survive in the fashion district due to violence.

“It’s a bit of a negative for what the kids are doing because we have so many other young people who are seen as me if they do something negative, even if I try to do something positive in the city, Thomas added. With over 58,000 followers, Thomas is a rock star for his brand and influence on kids.

“A lot of parents feel it’s safe to bring their kids to HMBL. A lot of parents trust my message for their kids,” he said. Thomas started a candy business in high school, took out water from art galleries, and then started making merchandise. He sold his brand with one car trunk and went on to open four stores.

“I want to be in Philly because it inspires kids and stuff like that, but if it’s not safe, then we don’t know where we’re going,” he said. Thomas said he will meet with fashion district officials this week to discuss the problem and possible solutions.

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