- OUR HISTORY
In March of 1991, my family opened a small 300 square foot shop called New York Firefighter’s Friend. It offered a varied selection of “Firematic” products to the members of the New York Fire Department that came to its Medical Center a few doors away on Lafayette Street. But it soon became apparent that in addition to the interest of "New York's Bravest” other firefighters from around the globe, firefighter family members, “Buffs”, locals and tourists also had an interest in all things Fire. The store, which had quickly became a favorite destination for people visiting the city, became known simply as the “Fire Store”.
Over the next 10 years the store doubled in size and broadened it’s range of products. The shop was featured in newspapers, magazines, and on television. In short, the still small store had become an NYC Institution.
Though not necessarily directly connected Fire-fashions began to be seen on the streets, on TV shows, on recording stars, and were echoed in subsequent lines of work-style fashion produced by some of the world's top designers.
However our greatest enjoyment came from having groups of firefighters from different cities and different countries meeting in the shop, exchanging stories, exchanging patches, and sometimes even the shirts off their backs.
In 1997 my wife and I opened New York 911 right next door to the Firestore. Long overdue, this shop paid tribute to members of the NYPD, New York’s Finest.
The tragic events of September 11th, 2001 changed everything, even beyond the painful loss of friends, and faces known for a decade. The mood of the stores transitioned from a light, upbeat, atmosphere of celebration, to one of somber tribute. People lined up at the door because they were hurt and grieving, desperate to share their sorrow with others feeling the same loss and vulnerability. They needed to pull on a shirt or cap that showed our Heroes they were loved. We grieved with them for all our lost friends, family and innocence.
In the months that followed, we had the honor of meeting thousands of incredible people from all over the world that traveled to New York to help with the rescue, recovery, and finally to attend the hundreds of memorials and funerals. As a thank you, we gave all members of service, Fire, Police, EMS, FEMA, Red Cross, and a wide variety of federal agencies, 25% off their purchases in our shop. In addition, through their (and many of your) purchases at the Firestore, and New York 911, we were able to donate over a quarter of a million dollars to various causes that directly benefited our members of service and their families.
While no one will ever forget the devastating events, nor the tragic losses of 9/11, the atmosphere in the stores are nearly back to normal. People are smiling again, not gazing off into the distance. People are laughing again, not breaking down in tears. Recently in our shop, a group of firefighters from Austin, Texas met a group of firefighters from Paris, France. After exchanging some small talk, they all left together to eat at a local restaurant. These kinds of encounters are what make the Firestore special.
In hopes of keeping the stores viable, in March 2006, 15 years after we first opened our doors, we relocated the shops. Our new space at 17 Greenwich Avenue is in the heart of historic Greenwich Village. The new, larger, more comfortable space will give us the opportunity to bring in new products, and display them in an inviting environment. Now both our fire and police product are available in one space With any luck, we will have police officers and firefighters exchanging patches and stories for another 15 years.
June 14th, 2015
Dear Firestore Friends and Customers,
It is with great sadness that we announce the closing of our Shop after over 24 years. Effective Sunday, June 14th. While the closing was a sudden development, the end for the Shop really came five years ago when they closed St. Vincent's Hospital. This pulled several thousand people out of the area each day. For the past five years we have been dying a slow death, borrowing from here to pay there, depleting our savings, selling our home, trying to find a level where the math worked, but each year the target moved a little further away. This year we were finally done in by construction all around the shop, road closures, and the final blow--the building was wrapped in scaffolding two months ago. A perfect storm for retail failure.
It's been over 24 years, but I can remember so vividly the guys from L20, and other units visiting the old FDNY Medical Center on Lafayette asking "what's all this?" when we opened "New York Firefighter's Friend" in March of 1991. They seemed surprised that anyone would open a "Fire Store"...they knew about "Cop Shops", but a "Fire Store"?
It was the very definition of a local "Mom & Pop" store. The entire space was maybe 250 Sq Ft.. I built much of the shelving and storage from scratch, and my mother and father (Ellie & Nate) were there most days for the next 12 years. My sister (Talia) and I would work when it was busy or the parents needed time off. A year or so later we expanded next door. And in 1997 we opened our own "Cop Shop" next door to that called "New York 911".
15 years at Lafayette St. and now 9+ on Greenwich Ave....it has been an honor for my family to be a small part of the 1st Responder Community.
Now, what I opened with my parents and sister, and where many other friends and family have worked, I close with my wife and son....3 generations have worked the store.
Our very last customer was a family with a little chubby cheeked blond 2 yr old boy. He wanted the fire rain boots that were still in the window....Annie got the boots out and showed them to him...he grabbed them and held them to his chest. The parents offered to pay for them, but Annie declined, then she said here, he should "have the helmet to match", and handed them a kids helmet. The little boys smile was huge, then she handed them the kids fire raincoat so he could have the full outfit. He was a very happy little boy. I can not think of a better last customer than a wide eyed little boy who wants to dress like his heroes, and maybe, like many of the little boys that used play with the trucks on the floor of the shop, he will one day be a real firefighter.
We look forward to seeing you on our web site, and on Facebook.
Noam & Annie Freedman