Date added: 09/12/1974 Special Remedy For Athletes Foot Problems
The Charlotte Observer, by Bob Quincy
Peer into this creepy-looking shoe store at 209 Mitchell Street, and it's hard to believe
that the likes of Willie Mays, Maynard Jackson and Magic Johnson regularly shop here.
The fading window display of the store hasn't changed in 20 years. There are no mirrors,
no chrome, no track lighting- but the atmosphere inside is infectious.
Friedman's Shoe Store has been attracting customers to the same address since 1930
when Phillip Friedman first opened the store selling used shoes, said current owner
Bruce Teilhaber, Friedman's son-in-law.
Without ever spending one dime on advertising, Friedman's has become a name
synonymous with fine footwear, attracting the famous and the adventurous to
downtown Atlanta's Mitchell Street.
Friedman's sold more than 30,000 pairs of shoes last year, and traffic through the dimly
lit store is so heavy that the Atlanta police raided the shop thinking that the shoe
buyers were participating in the numbers racket. "There were six policeman,"
Teilhaber remembered, "after they didn't find anything, four of them bought shoes."
Patrons in the store said that Teilhaber's honest and open attitude toward shoe-selling is
their primary attraction. He has perfected the bare-bones, utilitarian approach to
Shoppers must wind upward through a dusty maze of more than forty thousand cardboard
boxes full of shoes, which line the walls of the 17,000 square-foot store. On the
third level, they come face-to-face with largest selection of mens' sizes 15s through
22s in the country, Teilhaber said.
"When customers first look in here, they think somebody must've told them a joke. I've
got bars on the windows, and you've got to go up two flights just to get waited on.
It amazes them," Teilhaber said.
Layers of autographed 8-by-10s of famous athletes and entertainers cover the walls of the
1800s building. Johnny Bench and Frank Robinson dropped off baseball jerseys for
Teilhaber's "Wall of Fame," on past shopping sprees.
"We went after these guys back in the 60s. I had a friend with Clemson University, Bill
Mathis who later went to the New York Jets. He had shopped here when he was in
college and after that he brought in players like (Joe) Namath," Teilhaber said.
"Athletes are a real close-knit group and all of my business since has come from
Last week, prior to the ACC Tournament game, Wake Forest University player Kenny
Green said that the first time he saw the store that he didn't want to go in.
But he likes it now. "This place is awesome, I've never seen so many shoes in my size
Variety is the key, Teilhaber said.
"We provide a round-robin of shoes, from the most conservative to high fashion. Most
men who wear over a size 11 have only had two or three styles of shoes to choose
from, until they come here, where we have thousands" said Harvey Kronitz,
longtime salesman at Friedman's.
Customer service is also very important, Teilhaber said.
Jim Perry, a three-year shoe salesman, briefly interrupted unpacking crates of shoes to
take an order long-distance from Atlanta mayor, Maynard Jackson. "He's in his
Chicago office, but he knows that I know his style. Maynard likes only capped-toe,
lace-ups in black, navy blue and brown. He likes business-like shoes," Perry said.
"All my salesman have call-in-clients. We get to know our customers," Teilhaber
"Worldwide, shoe manufacturers know Friedman's because of the specialized clientele
they serve," Stephen Fuchs, president of New York-based Fratelli Shoes Inc., said
by phone. Fratelli is a major shoe manufacturer that uses 18 different factories to
custom design shoes for Friedman's. "I come there (to Friedman's) about three
times a year and I love it. The whole concept is unique."
Sporting a necklace with a solid gold shoe on it, Teilhaber showed off an exclusive line
of ostrich and alligator skin shoes that retail for around $450 a pair. Shoe prices
range from $30 to $450 in mens' sizes 6-22.
"We're not in the $12.99 business. We sell good quality shoes for 30-50 percent less
because of low overhead and no advertising expense," Teilhaber said. Shoes that
regularly retail for $100-$140 sell at Friedman's for $65-$75, he said.
Teilhaber has owned the building that houses Friedman's Shoes since 1955. He recently
purchased another building six doors down Mitchell Street at 223, where he operates
a shoe store for women. Friedman's operates a third shoe store (for both men and
women) at 4340 Roswell Rd in Buckhead.
Teilhaber has been credited by downtown preservationists with keeping retailing alive on
Mitchell Street, which in its heyday was called the "thriftiest and most promising
business district in Atlanta," according to a 1908 Atlanta Journal report. "We're not
only surviving here, we're thriving," Teilhaber said of his 55 year-old business.
Avoiding specifics, Teilhaber said his 1984 revenues were more than a couple of million
Other than installing central air conditioning at his 209 address, Teilhaber has no plans to
relocate or rehabilitate his Mitchell Street buildings. "Friedman's will be on
Mitchell Street forever, " he said, adding that he will renovate the buildings if the
Mitchell Street block is redeveloped for other retailers. "Anything that would
benefit Friedman's and Mitchell Street, I'm for it," he said.