The tragic news of the shooting death of Jamal “Mally” Gaines has rocked our community. People from all walks of life from humble Rahway, NJ to across the globe, sadness and grief has hit many trying to comprehend and make sense of it all.
Last night, a crowd of several hundred people gathered outside of East Coast Boutique to remember and celebrate the life of Mally who was an owner in the sneaker shop – a store he opened with SoleyGhost at the age of only 18.
We spoke with SoleyGhost, his partner in the Rahway, NJ store as well as another shop in Philadelphia, about Mally and the legacy that he leaves with us.
Matt Halfhill: Mally was known to many locally and a far who dealt with East Coast Boutique. How did you first meet Mally and what about him made you want to go into business?
SoleyGhost: He knew I was from Staten Island. I was selling shoes face to face out of my car when he reached out to me and asked me if had any extra inventory that he could sell in NJ at his shop. Every couple of days he was hitting me up to buy more sneakers. First it was 5 pairs, then 15, then 40. He was really moving units. After we did business like this for a few months he hit me up about opening a store out in New Jersey together.
I told him, that he just needed to find a shop that we could open together and he took it upon himself and overnight had a list of 10 available spots to look at. We decided on one and I contacted him about getting a deposit and contract put together to rent the space. Little did I know that he couldn’t wait and he went for it. He already had the keys and was ready to open the business. A true go-getter.
MH: You mentioned to me earlier that he was a catalyst for you opening the shop and future stores. How did he drive you in business?
SG: Mally was a 21-year-old kid who motivated a 32-year-old man more than anyone. Mally would mention to me that I helped make him a man, but he pushed me in ways that no one including him could ever understand.
Not long after we started the business together, Mally started texting and emailing me quotes, statistics, and figures about business, money management, and business development.
He took it upon himself to buy books, read, study, and master what was in them like he was a full-time student.
MH: I had read too that he was motivated to start the business to help take care of his family.
SG: That he did and his dedication to them was like nothing else. He would tell me about how he was going to have a huge week because he was going to earn a certain amount of money to cover a bill for his family. He worked every day, day-in and day-out to help his sister, mother, and grandmother. He was a dedicated man.
A couple of weeks ago when we had the horrible blizzard with 2-3 feet of snow on the ground, I called him to tell him to not to go into work because of the weather and to let everyone know East Coast Boutique would be closed, but it was too late for that. He wouldn’t let it happen. He had business to do.
He told me, “I’ve been up since 6 to get to the shop. I have to get there to help cash out someone of their 100+ pair collection.” When the rest of the world would take a day off and stay in, he was so dedicated to the business that nothing could get in his way of running the business and helping customers.
MH: I can’t tell you how many people on social media have shared an outpouring of sympathy and condolences. He really made an impact.
SG: That he did. Listen, how many times do you run across a young kid with so much drive and ambition while being the living and breathing example for others that YOU can make it. YOU can achieve your dreams if you put your mind to it and your heart into it.
Mally had heart. Simply put. And it was his heart that made him loved by so many.
Hundreds came down to the shop for the ceremony last night to celebrate Mally. Hundreds of people from around the world have reached out sending their condolences. Even customers and friends as far away as Asia were touched by Mally.
MH: I know that this must be an extremely hard time for you.
SG: I can’t make sense of it. Not one bit. When I first heard the news, I thought it was a joke. I got the text and immediately asked if this was for real. When I didn’t hear back immediately, I called to tell the person that this was not funny. When he answered and I could hear the police in the background, I just couldn’t believe it. I still don’t believe any of it.
If there is ANYTHING that can happen that can be a positive from the loss of Mally, it is to have his legacy be told to as many people as possible and to help make sure that this never happens again.
Mally always did it. Always motivated. His drive in him pushed me. A 21-year-old kid’s grind to be successful. It was unparalleled to anyone I’ve ever seen. He pushed a 32 year old man to be a better person and harder worker.
Mally wanted the best for that shop. The shop was so much to him. And for someone to come in to take away his life? I just can’t come to grips with it all.
They didn’t get money, they didn’t get sneakers. They just got Mally.
I lost a best friend and a business partner over nothing. Zero.
Rest in peace, Mally. May your legacy and memory live on in the lives of many forever.