Ileana Rodriguez’s grandfather owned a shoe store in a small town in the middle of Puerto Rico. A supporter of education, he believed that every child should have a new pair of shoes for the first day of school.
As a 9-year-old, Rodriguez worked at the store gift wrapping shoe boxes, she witnessed her grandfather giving families shoes on credit, accommodating people who couldn’t pay.
“I admire what Grandpa did and I learned a lot about what mattered most. Money was not everything and that you needed to give back,” Rodriguez said.
Today, Rodriguez wants her grandfather’s legacy to live on. She opened Scrubs Station LLC on May 1, with a grand opening and ribbon-cutting set for 4 pm Thursday, July 25. It is the only independent, female-owned medical apparel store in the Madison area, Rodriguez said.
A portion of the proceeds from the grand opening will go towards a non-institutional scholarship fund for returning adult students pursuing a career in the healthcare industry — a way for Rodriquez to honor her grandfather’s initiative to give back.
In the future, she hopes Scrubs Station LLC can be a holistic location for people in the healthcare world. She’d like to host seminars and presentations, and offer resume guidance for students, which became her expertise in her former career.
In addition to a small, local store Rodriguez shared her grandfather’s spirit through a passion for higher education. After moving to the mainland US at age 18 and graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she became an advisor for continuing studies at the UW for 20 years.
She then moved with her husband to the Fox Valley area and was the advisor for students in the health field at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay. She has coached and guided all types of students pursuing healthcare, from dental students, pre-med, physical therapist, certified nursing assistance and more.
In November 2018 she realized she wanted to do something different and continue her grandfather’s legacy in a different way. Although she originally wanted a shoe store, it quickly became apparent that she could not separate herself from the healthcare and academic world she worked in for the majority of her life.
Instead, she decided to open her own scrub store at 2701 Monroe St. Suite 240. Close to Edgewood College and UW-Madison.
“Everyone needs scrubs,” she said.
Although there is no concrete dates for when the careers portion of the business will open, even now Scrubs Station LLC can feel like a learning environment. The conversation always becomes more than a transactional one.
“Because I am an advisor and will forever be an advisor, one of the first questions (I ask) is always ‘are you a student?’” she said. “I always say ‘good luck on your exams, come back and tell me what happens.’”
Because of her background, Rodriquez knows to stock her store with supplies every healthcare professional needs. For instance, her dental scrubs have snapped sleeves and the required length measurements. She carries the brand of scrubs SSM Health requires for all their employees, Landau, in a variety of colors.
She has a variety of sizes from petite to 5XL, group discounts, delivery, embroidery and, in her words, “what really matters.”
“Going back to my grandpa’s (values), treating customers like family is really important,” she said.