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African treasures.

John Bolling III made his first journey to Africa in 1971 and toured the East African countries of Kenya and Uganda. He fell in love with Africa and vowed to return. Well, 20 years later, Bolling finds himself back in the Motherland--not as a tourist this time, but as an entrepreneur.

As the owner of Dallas-based A.L.L. International Clothing Co., Boiling, 49, and his wife, Audrey, who is vice president, import and sell authentic African clothing and home furnishings. Their stock includes dresses, kimonos and tote bags from Gambia and Dakar, Senegal. Bolling's clothing is sold in 150 J.C. Penney stores nationwide. The four-employee company-originally launched by Bolling and his former partner, Joe Allen, as an investment firm to do business in West Africa--reported $250,000 in sales last year. For the first six months of 1992 A.L.L, posted revenues of $550,000. Says Bolling: "We are providing a market for African-made goods."

Bolling and Allen started A.L.L. in 1990 and were encouraged by business associates to approach Dallas-based J.C. Penney, The $16.4 billion retailer liked the company's wares and decided to test-market Bolling's merchandise in 22 of its stores,

With the help of the Gambian government and the U.S. Embassy, Bolling and Allen returned to Gambia in mid-1991 to line up a network of small business owners who could supply them with the merchandise. With $80,000 in savings, Bolling and Allen purchased 50,000 pieces of clothing and nearly 3 tons of wall hangings and wood carvings. In November the authentic African clothing and wood carvings were on J.C. Penney's shelves. A month later Bolling and Allen--unable to see eye-to-eye on the company's direction--split up.

But that divorce hasn't hurt A.LL. As of September, Bolling's company received a $200,000 line of credit to purchase additional merchandise.

A.L.L. International Clothing Co., 3009 Cedar Crest Blvd., Dallas, TX 75203
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:clothing and furniture imports from A.L.L. International Clothing Co.
Author:Gite, Lloyd
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Previous Article:Redefining civil rights.
Next Article:Patience pays off.

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