Changes at Friedman’s Jewelers will bring smiles to guys’ faces
There’s no denying it — guys like stuff — and right now, some of the stuff guys like is getting tough to get. Like guns and ammunition. That stuff is seriously almost impossible to find these days.
Other stuff, like custom made knives and holsters, are tough to find simply because good craftsmanship is always at a premium and those things attract such a specific audience that it’s tough for many businesses to devote the money and the shelf space to something with such a limited potential to bring in a quick return.
And then there’s food. Obviously, guys love food, and while you can find passable food just about anywhere, finding high quality survival food is hard.
Soon, however, you’ll be able to find all that stuff and a whole lot more — classic watches, historic artifacts, classic men’s accessories and a few exotic animal mounts thrown in for good measure — in one location. It’s part of the next phase of the constantly evolving Friedman’s Jewelers, Donnie Thompson’s Washington Road companion to Windsor Jewelers.
“The overall concept will be things for men,” Thompson said as workers prepared the back corner space for his new venture. “Some women will like them, too, but the whole idea is, if you’ve got a man in your family, this is going to be a store for him to find something in.”
To make this exclusive venture happen — he promises it will be the only place of its type anywhere — the firearms that are currently at the rear of the main room will move into the new space, clearing the way for an expansion of the popular estate jewelry section. And then there’s the existing jewelry store, which will continue selling the same popular jewelry it’s been selling since opening.
That’s three separate businesses under the same roof.
“There’s something here for everybody,” Thompson said.
With only a couple of weeks to the opening of the so-called man cave, however, it’s that masculine territory that’s demanding most of his attention.
“I’m going to bring over a diary item that belonged to Alexander Stevens, the vice president of the Confederacy,” he said, standing next to a display case filled with part of his own private gun collection. “We’re going to bring over some real historic things and put them in here. And we’re going to put some of them for sale.”
He spoke excitedly of a new collection of German Lugers that had come in. With stuff like that coming in all the time, it’s like a toy store for men, and when it’s open, Thompson said there will be a constantly changing inventory as well as artisans showing their craft.
“We’re gong to bring in a lot of people that make things, so there will always be something new,” he said.
The guy who makes custom ankle holsters, he said, was formerly in the medical products industry and found a way to utilize some of that technology for his own devices. The custom knife maker produces one of a kind knives that are legitimate art pieces.
There will be plenty of others, too, because Thompson is always on the lookout for the next must have.
And then there’s the food, which can be a must have depending on the situation. He’s got a full wall of neatly packaged survival food in various amounts and styles.
Call it survival food, emergency food or camping food — however you want to think about it, the stuff is good enough to eat even if you’ve got electricity and a fully functioning kitchen.
Made by Wise Food Supply, a Utah-based company considered one of the highest quality long term food producers in the nation, these meals provide essential nutritional value in lightweight, re-sealable Mylar pouches that serve as both food storage and as a cooking mechanism. The ready-made meals come in a variety of popular dishes, including Chili Mac with Beef, Pasta Alfredo with Chicken and Teriyaki Chicken with Rice.
“It’s good if you’ve got a cabin in the mountains,” Thompson said. “No elements can affect it. With canned goods, if they freeze, they’re gone — even temperature change is not good for canned goods. But this is unaffected by conditions.”
According to Wise Food Supply, the ready-made meals have a 25-year shelf life, though even after 25 years the food will continue to provide nourishment, only with a slightly decreased nutritional value. And while they work best with boiling water — the food is freeze dried and dehydrated — if boiling water is unavailable, like when the Spirit staff’s planned survival experiment was brought inside on the account of rain, they can be produced with cold water, though the process might take a little longer.
(In truth, the experiment forged on in spite of the rain, using a microwave oven to boil the water instead of a fire in the fire pit, and though the move severely defeated the whole Man versus the World dynamic, it didn’t defeat it as much as the food itself — how can you feel like you’re surviving anything if the bag of chunky sawdust you started with becomes delicious lasagna nearly as lasagna-like as the picture on the package)?
Admittedly the food is meant for a high-end customer, and though it might be fairly easy to put a price on convenience, survival is another matter entirely, and given a seeming uptick in debilitating storms like Super Storm Sandy, many buyers appreciate the particular confidence that comes from having one of the basic necessities of life covered so easily.
“A friend of mine sells several preparedness products, and he says they stay sold out all of the time,” Thompson said.
And in spite of the economic pressures that are squeezing gun sales and making ammunition nearly impossible to find, Thompson said he actively going out and buying guns and ammunition so he’ll be able to stock it.
It was two years ago — long before the current, historic shortages — that Thompson first mentioned to the Spirit that he was planning the store.
“We didn’t know this shortage was going to come,” he said. “This store was planned before the shortage. We just got caught in the trap, but we’re going to do our best to have all of it. And it’s a challenge.”
It’s a challenge, but one Thompson is uniquely prepared to meet. By opening a gun and ammunition store when other gun and ammunition stores are struggling — and by having the purchasing power to buy up what’s already at a premium — he can dominate the difficult, declining market.
Thompson considers this the last phase of Friedman’s construction, although he plans to open a pawn and loan business sometime in the fall.
“We’re kind of phasing it in, because if you tried to do all of this at the same time you could bite off more than you could chew,” he said.
Once that phase opens up, you can expect the merchandise to really start changing, as he starts purchasing the unusual and seeking that rare find.
“We need it,” Thompson said excitedly about the merchandise. “We want it.”
Given the exposure the business will receive by being open in time for Masters, not to mention its prime placement on Washington Road and the newly designed Alexander Drive, it’s easy to see how Friedman’s could become a regional draw. You Might Also Like: