Focus on Mid-Town: Phoenix Traders' humanitarian mission

Local business donates funds to those in need

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part series detailing the import/export shop Phoenix Traders at 215 Seventh St. in Rockford’s Mid-Town District. The first part, which was published in the March 16-22, 2005, issue of The Rock River Times, focused on the many offerings of Phoenix Traders. This second part delves further into the humanitarian mission of Phoenix Traders and discusses the Ali Shungu Foundation.

While imagining what I would look like in a set of ostrich feathers, Jim Phelps, owner of Phoenix Traders at 215 Seventh St. in Rockford, explained that the Ali Shungu Foundation owns two businesses: Hotel Ali Shungu and Rancho Ali Shungu. A percentage of the profits of these two businesses goes to the communities in dire need. So, in a way, some of your dollars spent at Phoenix Traders may go to assist in education programs and clean water for these people. I tried to convince myself that if I bought the earrings, it would be like social service.

The spring line of clothing was already on the shelves at Phoenix Traders. Tank tops in pale, dusky colors with attractive floral designs and perfect styling swung from hangers; sun dresses and patchwork denim skirts were making me wish I could afford a shopping trip. Phoenix Traders also had plenty of clothing for men.

After indulging in all the most basic female instincts of ritualistic window shopping (yeah, it’s an art), the Phelpses (Jim and his wife and co-owner Janet Phelps) and I discussed the Mid-Town District. As “outsiders” (as in, non-Rockford natives), Jim feels they can lend a new perspective to not only the neighborhood, but Rockford as a whole. They agree there is beauty in the Seventh Street area, and also support the frequently suggested idea of a Mid-Town District summer festival. They also expressed some interest in perhaps becoming host to things such as poetry readings and art showings.

“It can work here,” Jim said. “Rockford is absolutely dying for a store like this. We’ve got some umph to benefit Mid-Town…we want to work with the neighborhood.”

With all their enthusiasm for their business, location and products, the Phelpses have brought a great thing to Rockford. Their business hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The store is located next to JJ Fish at 215 Seventh St. For more information, go to or call 962-4212.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!