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Why the one-of-a-kind Hull Street Outlet is showing no signs of slowing down

“There is nobody in town that does what we do."
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Posted at 11:33 AM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-03 00:41:33-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Businesses come and businesses go. Changing tastes, competition, and corporate mergers swallow stores whole.

Longevity on the retail landscape can prove daunting. But Freddy Finn's family has discovered the secret to success.

Customers have been shopping at their Hull Street Outlet since the beginning of WWII.

“Oh, I loved it since I was a child,” said Freddy.

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Freddy’s dad, Sam Finn, started selling military surplus in 1942 in Manchester at the corner of Hull Street and 16th Street. In the early 1962, Mr. Finn moved to Jeff Davis and Bells Road. The new location is easy to find.

“Just look for the big rocket! ‘Oh! Are you the rocket place! Oh, I know where you are,’” said Freddy.

Freddy, brother Jerry and nephew Chris are carrying on Sam's legacy. The store still sells military surplus and office furniture.

“We started out taking articles manufactured for warfare. We recycle them for peacetime purposes. I’m always proud of that,” said Freddy.

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Chris Finn says finding uniforms, boots and gear is a cross-country scavenger hunt.

“What you’re doing is trying to provide a service that no one else provides,” said Chris. “There is nobody in town that does what we do. I don’t think I could cover it all. It is too much stuff!”

The 51-year-old says their niche keeps them relevant with old and new customers alike.

“We make it fun. Less corporate and more chaotic,” said Chris.

For Freddy Finn, working at the Hull Street Outlet is a rite of passage.

I was the only 10-year-old driving a truck,” said Freddy.

The 68-year-old says retirement isn't even on his radar.

“All of my friends say, ‘At your age why don’t you retire?’ I say, ‘Why would I retire? I love what I do.’ What am I going to do? Sit around and watch the Beverly Hillbillies all day,” said Freddy.

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With no board of directors to answer to, the Finn family says their no-nonsense approach is what keeps patrons coming back after nearly 80 years.

And if you're looking for Hull Street Outlet on Jeff Davis Highway. Not to worry. Just look for the big rocket.

“We live and breathe what are father taught us to do,” said Freddy. “We’re still running the business like he did in 1942.”

Hull Street Outlet is located at 3820 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Richmond, VA 23234.

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