How Friedman's Became Infamous
May 16, 2024

How Friedman's Became Infamous

The Story

I grew up in the West End neighborhood in Nashville TN, close to Hillsboro Village. Friedman's Army Navy was across from the Compton's Foodland my family shopped at, and it was a place we stopped by in between the grocery store, video rental, and home.

An old army surplus store, with the iconic soldier sign my mom found "a little off putting" (she didn't like seeing the gun or thinking of war). I liked going to Friedman's with my dad and she was mostly quiet about it. I got my first pocket knife there.

The store is run by the Friedman's, a lovely family, and all the employees have been working there for as long as I can remember. It's generally a very peaceful place, despite all the signs of war. I have memories buying duffles for camp, and alongside was my dad, teaching me about bag and shoe construction.

One day, while visiting my parents to perform my designated IT duties as a son, I stopped by Friedman's.

I don't know if I was listening to Mobb Deep in the car, but this particular visit when I hit the door to enter, I noticed the Welcome to Friedman's sign's resemblance to the Welcome to Queens Bridge sign.

My first thought was, The Infamous Friedman's, that's kind of funny. And then I started to mull it over. Friedman's is on 21st, the housing complex is on 41st.

By the time I had gotten back to the studio, I had an idea for a soccer jersey.

The Infamous Friedman's, a soccer club sponsored by Friedman's. In tiger or jungle camo, featuring a patch with the soldier sign on the front, and 21st printed on the back.

After a little time at my desk, and a call to Mike2600 for some graphic-related tweaks, I had the design ready to rock. I showed my good friend Bowls the jersey and it resonated with him "on some real Nashville shit". Other friends wanted to cop as well, so in honor of our shared love of Friedman's and Prodigy rap lines, I sourced a small run.

After I got the samples in and Bowls got his, I knew I needed to go see the Friedmans. With work ramping up for the holiday season, this took some time.

The visit

Early in October I stopped by with the jersey in my car. I started to poke around the aisles, hoping to catch a Friedman in person.

I was in the store for maybe 5 mins before I overheard a clerk mention they were closing.

My heart sank.

Closing, after 75 years. I had this jersey in my office for MONTHS, it was on the list but I didn't feel the need to rush it. I started thinking about how Nashville was changing, and how much that particular neighborhood meant to me.

After a few minutes ruminating in the salvage bins, I had an idea that really struck me.

I needed to memorialize the store. The salvage I had looked at with my dad, having early design-construction discussions over. It all took on new electricity. It was urgent I get a chance to make some stuff before it was gone.

After chatting with a clerk, I got linked with Frank Friedman's email. I wrote him from the fishing section asking if he would be open to selling me materials for a project.

A few days later...

I heard back from Frank, and he was skeptical, but maybe...touched? I don't know, but in any case, he agreed to let me buy him lunch. Frank and I met for burgers at Brown's diner, which shares a parking lot with them, and I told him my story. The brand I started with my bag-designer father, his health, my connection to the store from my youth, and my idea for a run of products using the name. After many follow-ups, and a couple more burgers, he agreed to let me do my thing, and we we're off to race against the clock.

Salvage reimagined 

In the months that followed, my small team began to design and produce a line of products to sell in the store and online.

We went digging for supplies in the bins, and had free reign to pick what we wanted to use. Honestly, it felt similar to flipping through stacks of old records. You've gotta get your fingers dusty.

So finally, after months and months of behind-the-scenes development, Tucker-Bloom is honored to present the The Infamous Friedman's Collection.

The online store is now open. A selection of bags and other items will be available at the release event in Nashville at the Friedman's store.

 

Event details to follow, but it will certainly be before June 30th, when the doors to the physical Friedman's close forever!