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Owner of Former Public Shoe Store in Clarendon Dies

Sholom Harold “Doc” Friedman, the long-time proprietor of the former Public Shoe Store in Clarendon, has died. He was 86.

Friedman’s father opened the store in 1938. It moved from its original building in the 1970s to make way for the construction of Metro, ending up at its recognizable 3137 Wilson Blvd location, where it stayed for decades before closing in 2016 to make way for a 7-Eleven.

“Doc” was a beloved figure for generations of shoe store customers and patients of his podiatry office. He took over the store when his father could no longer work there, but there were no potential successors when it came time for Doc to retire a few years ago.

From a 2015 profile:

Friedman has children and several grandchildren, but none of them wanted to take up the mantle of Public Shoe Store the way he did from his father. His children are all at or near retirement, and the next generation are aspiring teachers and scientists.

“They don’t seem to be interested in it,” he said. “Kids today are into different things, it’s a different world.”

Although his loyal customers will miss coming into the shop and seeing him every day, shuffling deliberately across the store and trying his hardest to find the perfect shoe for each foot problem, he hasn’t thought much about what his next step will look like.

First, he said: tending to his Lyon Village home, which is just a few minutes ride from the store via his motorized red scooter.

“I’m going to clean out all my junk,” he said. He smiles when he’s asked what he’ll miss most about the store, and said only, “I don’t know yet.”

An obituary notes that Doc was a proud Mason and member of Arlington’s Congregation Etz Hayim.

Known and beloved in the Washington area as Doc Friedman, proprietor of Public Shoe Store; the family business founded by his late father, Samuel, and co-owned with his late brother, Joel, was in business for 78 years until Doc’s retirement in 2016. He was a proud Mason, and a founding and lifetime member of Congregation Etz Hayim. Graveside services will be held Thursday, October 10, 1:00 p.m., at King David Memorial Gardens in Falls Church, VA. Family will be receiving following burial with a minyan service at 6 p.m. at the late residence. Memorial contributions may be made to Capital Caring and Relay For Life of Olney – American Cancer Society. Services entrusted to Sagel Bloomfield Funeral Care.

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