Friday, April 9, 2010

When Will Friedman's Shoe Store Fix Its Butt Ugly Windows? SoMi Activst Brian Finstad Makes A Vow...

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

First, let me make it clear I TOTALLY SYMPATHIZE WITH FRIEDMAN'S SHOE STORE. Their glass windows have been broken and replaced so many times they finally gave up and went with Plexiglass, which is now ugly, discolored, and layered with shoe brand stickers as thickly as the United Nations is festooned with the flags of all nations.

So, yes, there's a reason for the current situation...but the current situation is not good enough. You don't see Stu Ackerberg putting crappy Plexiglass on his renovated buildings. And while Merwin's Liquor dragged its feet for a while, they finally did something about the "butt fence" where so much loitering took place, for which we are all grateful.

The inevitable North Minneapolis trend is toward progress and beautification. Like slumlord Keith Reitman with his "ugly ass chocolate brown builing," Friedman's is bucking that positive trend. This blog will not cease calling out and criticizing Friedman's in a very public way until the "butt glass" situation is remedied.

However...

Some weeks ago, while drinking at Donnie Dirk's Zombie den with South Minneapolis activist Brian Finstad and some other fine friends, we were talking about Friedman's "butt glass" situation and Brian made a vow...

Finstad vowed if Friedman's would replace the Plexiglass with real glass, and keep the real glass instead of backsliding, he would BUY ALL HIS NEW SHOES AT FRIEDMAN'S FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. In the photo above, Brian gestures with his shoe, emphasizing his vow.

I can't remember the last time I bought NEW shoes, since I prefer my footwear cheap and used. So I'll make the same vow, knowing it will probably cost me nothing and never come to pass. This, however, WILL come to pass: Friedman's WILL do something about those butt-ugly windows, or they WILL never hear the end of it.

44 comments:

Not your accountant said...

That Fat Cat looks pretty good right about now.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone from the neighborhood approached them about installing new glass windows?

James Hardey said...

You guys are so lame. If you want it so bad just buy the damn glass. This guy's shoes for life aren't going to do it. Heck maybe they wouldn't even want you anti business types in their store anyway. When you're house is the Taz Mahal then you can talk. As you've said their window has been broken many times so here comes the plexi. Get off their case already and do something useful. Start a benefit to buy them the glass, get them more government money etc. Simply saying you'll patronize them isn't hardly enough.

Hamir said...

This post is very offensive to those of us who are Arab Americans in NoMi. As I'm sure you're no doubt aware the bottom of someone's shoe is hugely offensive to us. I love your blog, but when I saw that I had to look directly at the bottom of someone's shoe it was basically like telling me to F off.

We've made great strides in this country on the subject of race relations. You wouldn't tolerate the use of the N word or other blatantly offensive things. Please show the same sort of racial sensitivity to Arab Americans.

la_vie_en_rose said...

Lol, geez. Thanks for continuing to refer back to the post with my email. Sometimes I wonder if people here consider me a troll or a neighbor. I don't know what I can do to assure that I'm the latter.

In any case, I figured a long while back the reason that Friedman's store remains with the horrible plexi-glass is what you just mentioned -- glass kept getting broken. I can't say I blame them, really. Sure, it looks crappy, but it beats replacing glass every time some idiot breaks the windows.

Unless someone can persuade them to go the route that the dentist office did (and possibly offer a grant to help pay down the cost of replacing them -- not saying anyone needs to do this; just saying that flashing money in someone's eyes generally gets them to change their mind), I don't see them doing anything.

Larry said...

I call 311 on this store every single day. I cannot stand this atrocious "butt glass." If they are going to try and continue business with such stupid butt glass as windows, the City should just shut them down and cite them for public nuisance.

Hassan said...

Brian is doing the right thing to show the sole of his shoe to these dogs that run this shoe store.

Noor said...

John,

Have you ever had to run a business? It's not easy. There are a lot of difficulties and costs associated with doing so. It's not like Friedman's wanted to be victims of vandalism. Sometimes businesses have to make decisions to stay open and sacrifice appearances.

What I mean is driving Friedman's out of business isn't going to help NoMi at all. You have a lot of positive things to contribute to NoMi, but what you are doing here is very, very negative. Please reconsider what you're doing.

Your Eyedea said...

I do recall this.... so i vouch!

Johnny Northside! said...

To Anonymous at 2:20, yes, they have been talked to about this issue again and again.

To James Hardey: How about I just blog and you can go start a benefit FOR THIS BLOG, since you're criticizing this blog? I mean, GET OFF YOUR ASS already and do something useful instead of just criticizing. (I'm joking here, but hey, you get the point)

Hamir: I doubt very much you are who you say you are, and Brian isn't making any "bottom of the shoe" gesture to be taken in that way, and you know that.

To Noor: I will not let up until the situation is changed with the butt glass, but I doubt very much if I'm capable of "running them out of business." I'm sure they'd make a business decision to FIX THE ISSUE WITH THE GLASS before THAT happened.

James Hardey said...

I need new shoes myself. I think I might just go buy them there and tell them to do what they think is best for their business. I really don't care if they replace the window or not as it seems they have a good reason for using Plexi. But I do like that they stand up for themselves so i'll drag my butt into the hood and get a pair just to counter that yahoo's stupid pledge.

Johnny Northside said...

Well, James, you do that. And I'll keep doing what I do: griping about the "butt glass" and how crappy it looks.

Johnny Northside said...

To Eyedea: you were there, right? You witnessed the "sacred shoe vow." Is that what you mean when you say you vouch?

Great blogspot profile, by the way.

Exposed to the light of day said...

JNS:
My wife suggests that you could snap a photo of BF throwing his shoe at the camera... then post it.

Your Eyedea said...

YES! I was there! and thanks! I'm getting pretty sick of people coming here to complain about racial things, this is a blog about NoMi, not your radical options about race. Make your own blog, and stop coming here to find any little thing you can to make everyone feel uncomfortable in their own skin

Lori said...

John,

Aren't we stretching ourselves a little thin here? I mean, we're already busy trying to shut down the used bed store and the auto parts store. I'm not sure that our effors should be spread any thinner.

la_vie_en_rose said...

Eyedea, most of them are trolls egging John on, I'm sure.

However, as for asking people to stop discussing race in a blog that 1.) invites others to contribute their opinions and 2.) revolves around an area of the city that is very racially and culturally diverse...well, are you surprised that people are going to have differing opinions here?

Recognize the trolls for whom they are and ignore them, but don't condemn the rest just because they have other views and ideas.

Anonymous said...

LOL - Funny, I don't see much uproar from Arab Americans about the shoes that are hanging from trees and power lines all over the community.

Seems to me that if the storefront were more welcoming that it might not be such a target. (One of the biggest crime deterrents is to maintain good storefront visibility.

In addition the added revenue from real consumers might increase enough to afford the Plexiglas replacement if we could see that there was actually a shoe store under all that crap.

Anonymous said...

I think John would prefer to see a government shoe store, government bed store, government auto parts store where each citizen is allocated their goods according to their need. Of course some citizens would be more equal than others.

Anonymouse said...

Have you ever been in this store? They cater to thugs just like Urban Exposure. Frankly I'd like them to go out of business. The thugs can go to St. Paul to get their uniforms. We don' need them here.

M. Clinton said...

AND BTW - Fat Cat is good, but Old E is better!

M. Clinton said...

As far as the whole vandalism issues goes, I do realize there is risk in having actual breakable glass, but at some point we as a community are going to have to choose if we are going to operate in a culture of fear in which believe that we can never have anything nice or it will be trashed, or whether we are going to live our lives openly and in defiance of the fear of all of the negative elements.
I can guaranty the fear based approach only leaves the community powerless and actually INCREASES vulnerability. The second approach is one of the community empowering itself and regaining control.

I have to point out too that BLO has a really cool neon sign and large plate glass windows and does not feel the need to encapsulate them in dirty, yellowed, gross looking plexi glass. I have a feeling that BLO cares about about their impact on community perception. That is not to say that Friedman's does not care - I believe the glass has probably been in that state for a very long time and they simply did not realize that it was beginning to increasingly be frowned upon by many in the community. Hopefully after having become aware of this, they will decide to join BLO, chart a new course, and make the decision to not operate from a fear based approach to the community.

Anonymous said...

Dyna sez: I'm publicly asking John to cut Friedman's some slack. While just about every other legal business in Hawthorne has cut their losses and left, Friedman's is still here. Don't forget that they're competing against WalMart and Target and don't have near the buying power and economies of scale those behemoths do.

So if you want Friedman's prettied up, find them some funding to do so. Same goes for my house- I'm not about to blow my scarce resources prettying up the place while RT and the city are directing millions to subsidize southside bike shops, convention center websites, etc..

Your Eyedea said...

I understand that this is a blog about NoMi, but do you see me asking If people could be more racially sensitive to me cause I'm white. NO. So I'm sick of watching what i say or type cause I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I DON'T CARE !

Also my dad was best friends with Mr.Friedman and I still get shoes from there. I don't want it to close,I just want him to change the glass, Another thing is that he is on his last legs in life and is RARELY at the store, his son runs it and I'm pretty sure that he doesn't care about the condition of the glass.

Hans said...

For years I have driven past Friedman's and wondered why nobody removed all the crap from the windows when the building was abandoned. I had no clue (until recently) that the business was actually OPEN.

If it looked like a store I might be tempted to go inside. I see they advertise large size shoes, and since I wear size 15 I would be overjoyed to find a local store that can cater to my clod-hopping needs... but I just can't bring myself to go into a store that hasn't seen the light of day in ages.

It might be a fine store, but until I can see that from the street I will continue searching the suburbs for giant shoes.

topic change...

Have the windows been shattered from mere vandalism... or was the store broken into and ransacked? It seems like glass would be a better deterrent since it's sharp and painful, unlike plexi. The slumlord I bought my house from replaced a number of windows with plexi and I have a hard time feeling secure. At least none of my plexi is yellowed (or covered with shoe logos).

MeganG. said...

Dyna, I agree you might have a certain point to hoping Friedman's doesn't pack up and leave, and that they have to compete, but I think their windows need to be cleaned up and improved and if they can't afford to pay for it, finance it or whatever then THEY should be the ones to find facade/grant money. Oh wait. They already got some free city facade money. Hrmph.

la_vie_en_rose said...

Eyedea, I understand what you mean. I really wish we didn't have to worry about being racially sensitive, and people could just view each other as...well, people, and they would be held accountable for their actions as human beings, but I'm sure you as well as anyone else knows that even in this day and age, that's not the case. Everything's still racially motivated. Otherwise, we wouldn't still need programs like Affirmative Action.

Hans, I have to admit that when I first moved here, I didn't realize that store was actually open. I thought that it had closed years ago, and the signs were left. I thought the plexiglass was actual windows that had just yellowed with age and dust (along with the signs). I didn't realize they were open for business until the post made by John a few months ago. If they do cater to larger sizes, then I guess I should check them out. I'm a bigfoot, and Target/Wal-Mart/etc generally don't carry my size.

It's like the international market that's next to it; I've been tempted to try them out because I do a lot of Asian cooking, but I wasn't sure if they were even in business.

Anonymous said...

window image by Goran Bogicevic from Fotolia.com
Plexiglass has some benefits.Acrylic windows are being used more and more. Commonly known as Plexiglass, they have some useful qualities that offer conveniences and advantages whether you are purchasing prefabricated windows or doing it yourself. There are some drawbacks--such as susceptibility to scratching or melting from direct heat--that might make regular glass a better option. On the other hand, if you live near a playground, the fact that acrylic windows are very strong and resistant to breaking might outweigh that. In addition, for DIY purposes, acrylic windows are easier to handle.

SKIORDIE said...

You shallows probably don't shop NOMI and just drive down broadway to make gapefaces and then blog about it- I find that entertaining. I would like to know that your houses, namely james', aren't super BUTT uggz and that you dont have litter all over your yard. show us some pictures of you NOMI UTOPIA.
Also, why not build a panoptican to observe all who are urinating in your purview then call the authorities

Shamika said...

Eyedea,

I'm glad that you don't care about racial issues, but my ancestors were brought to this country in chains. People judge me every day by the color of my skin. Race may not affect you, but to those of us who aren't genetically blessed, it is still somewhat of an issue.

I hope you can at least be sensitive enough to appreciate that.

Kevin said...

Anony said:
"They cater to thugs just like Urban Exposure....."

That's a total load of crap! Yes, I've been in the store. Bought a great pair of New Balance shoes (size 14) and didn't see a single thug in the place. Just some ordinary folk doing their shoe shopping.

If you don't know what you're talking about, shut the F up. We may live in a nation of free speech, but we don't have to put up with stupid speech.

Anonymous said...

To anonymousE April 11, 2010 9:31 AM,
Just wondering what your definition of a "thug" is, care to elaborate? Maybe the problem isn't with the patrons of Friedman's but rather people such as yourself with ignorant stereotypical views. We don't need YOU here!

Connie said...

I've heard that pro athletes go to Friedman's for their shoes and that they do a pretty good business so should be able to afford real glass windows. They also DID get facade grant money but used it to replace the windows on the second floor of the building. Hope this link works: http://www.mspmag.com/multimedia/video/72562.asp

Your Eyedea said...

I can understand that people will judge you based on the color of your skin. I can also understand that your ancestors came here in chains. I'm not asking you to forget who you are and how far your race has come, I'm asking simply to not make it an everyday struggle. (online at least)

I don't want to tip toe around people on this blog. I NEVER look at a person any differently based solely on their race and if I do, Its respect... Cause I do understand what struggles people have made in the past...So, yes I do hope that I am sensitive enough to understand that and I don't want to come off as a soulless dick...

Just a very opinionated young lady. :)

Tim Pawlenty said...

Perhaps I should unallot the funding for their facade improvements.

Hans said...

I have to agree it's a little odd how frequently race issues come up when the original stories have nothing to do with race relations. Or does EVERYTHING in north have something to do with race?

I don't doubt that it is a big part of people's day to day lives, but some of the posts are so paranoid/off the wall that it's really quite maddening if you take it all seriously. Seems like somebody is just spamming to get things riled up...

Anonymous said...

shamika-

you know white people get judged by the color of their skin everyday too.

do you have any idea what goes through my head when I walk past a group of ten black men hanging out on the sidewalk?

do you really think all ten of those guys are having racially neutral thoughts when I walk past?

you implied that you think some people are 'genetically blessed' with their skin color... so you are stereotyping at the same time you complain of the oppression of your ancestors chains. reverse stereotyping is just as bad for communities.

don't think that just because someone is white they have a golden ticket to acceptance and haven't had struggles in their lives. just because my ancestors came here willingly doesn't mean my life is grand.

everybody living in a diverse community is affected by their race.

don't believe everything you think.

Chris said...

There is proof that you are not publishing all comments submitted. Several sources are citing the same to me. What are you afraid of? I guess If I were you guys I would be a bit worried about the public finding out certain somethings too.

I like that said...

I like that... "don't believe everything that you think."

that's a good one.

M. Clinton said...

I have a few points I want to make as my last comment on this topic:

First of all, I just wanted to say that the pledge to buy all shoes from Friedman's is a friendly challenge to step up an improvement in the neighborhood. I don't expect that it is going to "make or break" Friedman's business whether I buy shoes there or not. As a consumer, the choices of where I buy my shoes is the extent of what incentive I can throw out on the table.

Second, I totally respect long term, multigenerational family businesses. Especially one that has held on along West Broadway. Nobody is talking about boycotting Friedman's or wanting them to close. Sheesh. We're talking about IMPROVING business!

Thirdly, a few simple facade improvements that could be done and would not cost much money at all would be removing the plexi glass covering, removing excess signage from the windows so there is an "eyes on the street" presence, jazzing up the facade with a well coordinated color scheme, and maybe adding a few hanging baskets or container plants. Make it look welcoming, fresh - heck IN BUSINESS. As was previously said, many don't even realize it is currently running business.

Nobody is talking about hurting Friedman's here - I think we all like Friedman's. We're challenging them to "step" (pun intended) into the new era of a revitalized NoMi. It can be done inexpensively, will improve their business, and would be good for the community and West Broadway. There is nothing negative at all about this friendly challenge - it's all in good spirit and is good for them and good for the community. Heck, I'd even be glad to help them!

Patrick said...

Speak for yourself Clinton. I'd like to see them shut down, at least until they get rid of that awful butt glass.

MeganG. said...

@Hans & Eyedea, sometime soon we'll gather 'round a firepit and I can fill you in a little bit about what is going on here, the players that be and various agendas being pushed forward.

The race baiting, the anti-snitching, the resentment at revitalization efforts and resentment of diversity inclusion - it's all fake and scripted on here right now (for the most part that is) - we've got some folks coming here to leave fake comments and plant various seeds. Scripted dialogue is not sustainable. The authentic dialogue that does take place here on JNS is sustainable and it will prevail.

We'll talk soon!

Anonymous said...

Megan,

Why don't you share your thoughts in the open? Expose the trolls to the light of day.

JNS Reader said...

I'm guessing long-time readers of this blog probably already have a pretty good idea who these trolls probably are...