Indiana Bicentennial Torch Run


It was a great experience to be able to lead off Porter County at the Indiana Dunes State Park.

Great handoff from Marlo Colburn (4) at the Indiana Dunes State Park


Indiana 105: Bicentennial Torch Run Through Porter County
Day 28: Torchbearer Photos: Porter County

Post-Trib: State Bicentennial Torch Makes Way Through Porter County

NWI Times: Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay torchbearers Selected








Valpo boutique looking to pour whisky for charity



NWI Times: Valpo boutique looking to pour whiskey for charity

A gentlemen’s boutique in downtown Valparaiso is looking to be able to serve whisky at charitable events as it adapts to a changing retail landscape.

Rusted Oak, a clothier at 19 Lincolnway, has received initial approval from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, to get a fraternal club liquor license that would let it offer whisky and other alcoholic drinks after after-hours fundraisers for local charities. Other stores such as Albert’s Diamond Jewelers have staged events like whisky tastings and casino nights to lure in millennials, who marketers view as valuing experiences over possessions because of the popularity of social media sharing.

It’s one of a few changes the upscale menswear store in downtown Valparaiso is making at a time when retail giants like Macy’s are closing scores of brick-and-mortar locations and dress codes are getting loosened in workplaces nationwide.

“There’s a big transition,” said Rusted Oak owner Robert Ordway, a Lake Station native and Valparaiso University graduate. “The expectations of society have shifted for professional wardrobes. Brooks Brothers is no longer a staple.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg popularized hoodies, and J.P. Morgan Chase no longer requires employees to wear ties if they’re not at meetings.

Rusted Oak specializes in custom suits and shoes, and tuxedo rentals for black tie events, but is broadening its offerings to include “athleisure” wear like golf clothes to cater to changing tastes.

“Younger people are more into fitness and exercising a lot,” he said. “They have unique muscular bodies. They’re doing Crossfit. We’re going back to the custom clothing we had 100 years ago. Customization allows the individual person to be better dressed for their lifestyle.”

Fifty years ago, most men in Northwest Indiana might have been steelworkers, but now they defy easy categorization, Ordway said. Steelworkers might dress up on Friday nights to take their wives out on the town. Lawyers might go deer hunting on weekends, and farmers might moonlight as musicians.

Rusted Oak has worked to lure men in with a personalized shopping experience, as well as goods like beard oils, beard butter, private-label colognes and decorative whisky barrels. It also expanding to offer more women’s clothing.

“Women outspend men two to one in retail in this country,” he said. “Women buy for fun, while men buy based on need.”

Retailers as a whole have been declining, closing stores and laying off workers nationwide.

“Big box is dead,” he said. “You have to sell the experience to be modern and stay relevant. Gone are the days of stack it high and watch it fly.”

That’s why Ordway is asking the state for a liquor license similar to those the Elks and Oddfellows have so the boutique could have whisky tastings at private events to benefit local charities. Attendees to the in-store gales would buy tickets that would make them part of a private club, satisfying the state’s fraternal club requirement.

“Clothing can be purchased online, so you have to sell the experience as paramount to consumption,” he said. “A whisky bar or barber drives foot traffic. It’s a highly competitive, mature industry with a lot of shifts. You have to adapt.”

Ordway is also looking at kicking back a portion of store purchases to local charities like Kid’s Alive International or the Gabriel Horn Homeless Shelter. Customers could play a plinko game to select one out of six nonprofits.

“I’ve seen the very bad business model where someone will spend a hundred dollars and then you ask them for one dollar for the St. Jude Foundation,” Ordway said. “The millennial generation is looking for new ways to get engaged with the community, and want to be connected with groups where they could invest their time, treasure and talent.”


Money Matters with Greg – Dress Up

Thanks to Greg Farrall for having me on his radio show Money Matters with Greg.


You can listen to our conversation on mens style here and it is also available on the Farrall Wealth App located on iTunes as well.


Social and Environmental Impacts of Fast Fashion

It was a privilege to give a presentation to Valpo Rotary on such a topic



Lakeshore Focus – Clothing Manufacturing

#RegionProud: Robert Ordway of Valpo

NWI Times: #RegionProud: Robert Ordway of Valpo

Raised in Lake Station, I spent most of childhood plotting my escape from the Region.

In 2003, the Eli Lilly Scholarship took me to Purdue University. Just a year later, I transferred back to Valparaiso.

Upon graduation in 2007, I fled to Chicago to work in finance. Again, a year later, I found myself in graduate school at V.U. studying policy.

In 2010, I moved to Indianapolis to intern in the General Assembly and eventually landed a state job. Merely six months later I was called back home to NWI where I purchased a house in 2012. I have since worked or volunteered in just about every community imaginable.

What kept me coming back? Optimism. As a self-proclaimed rogue sociologist and anthropologist, I have often wondered what has been holding the Region from reaching its fullest potential.


When it came to politics, economics, or race relations, all roads led to one answer: Fear. The fear of diversifying from the steel industry, the fear of someone who doesn’t look like me moving in next door, the fear of another community poaching a business, the fear of not being in control.

It is this fear that paralyzes us from taking action, from listening and learning from others, from team-building, and, ultimately, from community.

It became clear that I needed to be a bridge, the connector that works to demystify the long-rooted misconceptions and stereotypes that perpetuate these fears.

I love attending both NRA and NAACP dinners and will go to any Region event ending in “Fest.” I enjoy the perspective of labor and management, and support results-oriented leaders regardless of their color or political stripe.

As a member of the Urban League Young Professionals and Young Leaders United, I am excited about the next generation of leadership from Gary to Valpo. Given my life experiences, I see nothing but opportunities ahead for all communities in NWI. I believe in the future. I am #RegionProud.