Today, I posted an article about a man who wears all orange. Coincidentally, I also interviewed a man this week who dresses entirely in white.
Bob Okpara sells sunglasses from his wooden cart on Wisconsin Avenue during the week and near Bradford Beach on the weekends.
He started his business in the late ‘80s after receiving a masters degree in industrial technology from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He was born in Nigeria but came to the United States to attend undergraduate school in Eugene, Ore.
"I’m also the deputy mayor of Milwaukee," says Okpara.
The cart was made in Colorado and Okpara added large drawers to accommodate his extra stock.
A large painted sign reads $2, but the sunglasses range from $2 to $10. He wouldn't reveal where the sunglasses come from, but he did admit that he routinely rotates out certain styles for up to 10 years because they eventually come back in fashion.
"These were ‘Miami Vice’ glasses in the ‘80s and now they are popular again," he says, gesturing to some Don Johnson-esque shades.
Okpara wears white every day – including white sunglasses – so he stands out. He says he has 10 white suits.
In the ‘80s, Okpara lived in the Brady Street area but today lives on the North Side. He transports his sunglasses cart to and from Downtown and the lakefront via a trailer that’s hitched to his vehicle.
He had parked the car and trailer at a lot on 4th and Cherry Street for more than 25 years without issue, but two weeks ago, someone stole his trailer and he was forced to buy a new one and find a new, safer parking spot.
The new parking space is further away and forced him to be late for work.
"I like to get here by 11, otherwise people have to wait for their sunglasses," he says.
Okpara, who plows snow in the winter months, says his sunglasses cart isn’t too heavy or cumbersome.
"Not when you have muscles like these," he says, flexing and laughing. "I figure when I can’t push the cart up the curb anymore, that’s when I know it's time to retire."
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Molly Snyder
Published Oct. 22, 2014
Many Milwaukeeans who grew up in the `60s, `70s and `80s remember the Kooky Cooky House - an electronic gingerbread cookie factory that featured dozens of moving parts - that was located in the now defunct Capitol Court Mall. This year, an updated Kooky Cooky House will return to Discovery World.
Published Oct. 21, 2014
Milwaukee music venue Shank Hall will celebrate 25 years in business in November. For this latest segment of Milwaukee Talks, OnMilwaukee.com sits down with owner Peter Jest to hear about the best shows of the past 2 1/2 decades, the fire that almost destroyed the music room, the role Spinal Tap played in it all and much more.
Published Oct. 19, 2014
Kevin Spencer is well aware of the backlash that can happen from calling oneself a magician or an illusionist. Spencer - along with his wife, Linda - brings "Spencers: Theatre of Illusion" to the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. The show is a mix of theater, rock concert and magic.
Published Oct. 19, 2014
What started out as a hobby for Laron Taylor is now a demanding full time job. His small business, Lai Lida Cookies, is doing better than ever and Taylor says he will soon offer bake-at-home cookie dough, too.
Published Oct. 18, 2014
This year marks the fifth anniversary of Milwaukee's Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade and celebration, which takes place Saturday, Nov. 1 from noon to 5 p.m. in Walker Square Park. Milwaukee's Celeste Contreras has organized the parade since its inception in 2010 and OnMilwaukee.com recently checked in with Contreras to find out more.
Published Oct. 17, 2014
Tonight, Edwin Ordonez - along with his two business partners - will open Mango's Tropical Bar & Grill, 721 S. Cesar Chavez Dr. "This will be the most unique sports club and night club in the city," says Ordonez. "We want to bring something new to Milwaukee."
Published Oct. 16, 2014
Shawn Hutchens, owner of Green Fields and Greenfields on Brady, purchased the old Cafe Vocar building a couple of weeks ago and plan to open Riverwest Pizza.
Published Oct. 15, 2014
It's been three months since Dino's reopened in Riverwest. Brothers Anthony and Lawrence LoCoco - the grandsons of the original owner, Leo "Dino" Dinon - have worked tirelessly to fine tune the menu and create an inviting space that's appealing to the Riverwest neighborhood and beyond.
Published Oct. 15, 2014
Ryan Adams performed an extraordinarily solid and heartfelt show tonight. Known as eccentric and erratic - in both good and not so good ways - the prolific North Carolinian continues to serve up a hearty slice of the very best in roots, folk, rock and Americana. But the beauty and the curse of Adams is you never know what you're going to get.
Published Oct. 14, 2014
After 41 years in business, Mike Hoffer will close Hoffer's Tropic Life Pets, 7323 N. 76th St. But first, Hoffer has to find homes for hundreds of animals.