Freedman Brothers

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Freedman Brothers Mormon DownEast Outfitters
Steve Griffin, Salt Lake Tribune

DownEast Outfitters is a successful discount furniture and clothing retailer cofounded in 1991 by brothers Charlie, Bill, and Jonathan Freedman, who are all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Freedman brothers grew up in metropolitan New York. Jonathan, at age 17, started reselling liquidated brand-name clothing out of the trunk of the family’s old Toyota Corolla. Charlie and Bill thought the idea might be a good way to make money in Provo, Utah, where they were attending Brigham Young University. Jonathan provided the clothing while Charlie and Bill drove the merchandise west.

Although they had no long-term dreams for this business, their father insisted that they get a tax ID and incorporate. Retail outlets were a new concept for the West at that time, and the company grew. By the end of their second year, they had six locations. By 1996, they began selling discount furniture.

From their humble beginnings of selling liquidated merchandise from the back of a friend’s delicatessen in Provo, to its more than 500 employees in 47 stores found in eight western states, the brothers hold onto their business philosophy: if business ever gets in the way of our personal relationships, we close our doors.

Charlie serves as the company’s general counsel. He earned a law degree from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. He also earned the J. Reuben Clark Award for academic excellence, integrity, high ethical standards, and service.

Bill is the company vice president of home furnishings. He earned his bachelor’s degree from BYU in Spanish.

Jonathan is vice president of apparel. He earned his bachelor’s degree from BYU in Russian.

Charlie, Bill, and Jonathan each received the 2009 Utah region Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the retail and consumer products category.

The brothers pulled a network of friends with expertise into the business: the COO is Rich Israelsen, and the CEO is Klane Murphy.

DownEast Outfitters has branched into two stores: DownEast Home & Clothing and DownEast Basics. They also have two clearance outlets.

The company also regularly contributes to cancer research, Choice Humanitarian, and to The Road Home.