Back in 1958, Fred Kaufman owned a men's clothing store across the street from where Kaufman's Tall and Big Shop currently resides at 3395 S. Broadway in Englewood.
Fred had a relationship with Troy Bledsoe, a former University of Denver men's basketball head coach, and after talks with Bledsoe, Fred realized tall and big men had a difficult time finding clothes. So, he started the process of reinventing his business.
Fred was able to persuade clothing manufacturers to make clothes for tall and big men, and once those clothes were produced, Fred told his customers he could no longer serve them because he was now a tall and big store.
“He basically reinvented himself and started a new business from a business. I remember him telling me when he was young that he didn't know if he'd have enough money in sales to pay the bills at the end of the week,” said Sam Kaufman, Fred's son and current owner of Fred's tall and big store — Kaufman's Tall and Big Shop.
Fred's business model proved to be profitable as Kaufman's Tall and Big Shop turned 62 this year after opening its doors in 1958. But after decades of selling large sizes of name-brand men's clothing, Kaufman's Tall and Big Shop will close by the end of October.
Sam Kaufman said he wanted to honor Fred by being open for at least 60 years. He added that he wanted to go out on top and said that Kaufman's Tall and Big Shop's closure is not related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Guys and their families have been coming in here for generations. You see a guy bring his son in and introduce him to the store, and as I got into the business, I got to work with them and their kids,” said Kaufman, who has been running the store for the past 40 years.
“It was more than just a spot to buy clothes. We have always operated on the foundation of treating everybody the way we wanted to be treated. Although we had many famous personalities come through the doors, I've valued the relationship with each and every customer, regardless of whether they bought a pair of jeans or a whole wardrobe.”
Fred sat on an advisory board that helped start the former American Basketball Association and the Denver Rockets franchise, which became the Denver Nuggets. After Rockets games, Kaufman said Fred would take players to Kaufman's Tall and Big Shop and open it after hours so they could shop.
One of those players with whom the Kaufman family formed a relationship was Dave Robisch, a former Rockets and Nuggets player who is 6 feet 10 inches tall. Robisch was introduced to Kaufman's Tall and Big Shop when he was a rookie in 1971. He said back in the early 1970s, it was a challenge for large men to find clothing because department stores didn't carry tall and big sizes.
“It was a shining light to meet Fred. Back in the '70s, the styles were different, but Fred had the styles that were in back then and had a lot of choices,” said Robisch, who played for Denver from 1971 to 1975 and from 1980 to 1984.
“It was a family business. They knew the business really well and provided great customer service,” he added. “They were able to build their business, and it became bigger and more successful. They stayed up with the quality of their goods, and they knew all the main labels of what to buy.”
Whenever football teams visited Denver to play the Denver Broncos, Kaufman's Tall and Big Shop would write a letter to the visiting teams inviting them to the store and would arrange transportation for players. Among the NFL teams who shopped at Kaufman's Tall and Big Shop were the Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans and New York Giants.
Kaufman credited the store's longevity to selling specialized products, being a family business and always trying to do the right thing.
“We treated everybody like they were us. I didn't want to just offer my customers body covering,” said Kaufman. “I wanted to offer them good stuff and the same kind of things you'd see in (regular size clothing).”
Kaufman said it's bittersweet to close, and he has moments of sadness that mainly stem from the good memories he's had at the store. He plans to spend more time with his family, volunteer, fly fish and travel whenever it is safe to do so.
All items at Kaufman's Tall and Big Shop are 50% off until the end of October.
“Kaufman’s Tall and Big Shop has been around as long as I can remember. My dad would tell me ‘That’s where all the football players shop,’” said Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Carroll. “It’s hard to see them closing, but they should be proud serving the front range for over 62 years!”
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