Sports figures tend to buy shoes in bulk. Vancouver Grizzly center Benoit Benjamin (size 17M) purchased two dozen on his first visit. This summer boxing impresario Don King footed a $65,000 bill for 110 pairs. And what's the big-ticket item for big NBA feet? "A pair of $1,200 Davanzati boots," says Teilhaber. "Alligator with mink inside."
It was a Boston Celtic rookie who convinced Teilhaber to enter the specialty shoe trade. "In 1963, John Havlicek came in looking for something in 14B," he recalls. "I didn't have anything in his size, and it bothered me." Teilhaber persuaded Ambassador Shoes to make men's footwear in sizes 13 through 15. "The stuff sold so fast I couldn't keep it on the shelves," he says. "It turns out big people always know other big people."
And they tell big people in other sports about Friedman's. While still pitching for the New York Mets, Dwight Gooden tried on 54 pairs of 11D's. He put four aside. "Are those the ones you want?" asked Teilhaber.
"No," said Gooden. "Those are the ones I don't."