The last time we talked together with Friedrich Paul II, he was preparing to open his Fahrenheit 313 sneaker store on the Avenue de la Mode in Livernois. Paul’s grand opening took place on March 13, 2020, the same day Governor Whitmer announced the closure of K-12 schools and three days before businesses opened closed due to COVID-19 pandemic.
While many businesses were forced to close their doors during the pandemic, Paul’s sneaker store survived despite the odds being stacked against him.
“Our grand opening day was great, but literally the next week we closed, so for me it was, you know, just survival at that point,” says Paul. “Like, we’ve worked so hard to get here and we’re not going to let that stop us. It was about using our resources and being creative once the store had to close.”
During the shutdown, Paul began working on developing the store’s online presence, which would eventually build not only his customer base, but also his community. Paul relied heavily on social media to keep his customers engaged, creating conversational polls on Instagram and relying on online sales to keep growing.
Two years later, Paul is ready to expand the community by releasing his Fire Exchange app. The app allows sneaker lovers to not only interact with each other and discuss the latest sneaker news and trends, but also allows them to have exclusive access and perks at Fahrenheit 313. One of the exclusive bonuses is Backroom, an in-app feature that allows subscribers to view the behind-the-scenes inventory of 313 degrees Fahrenheit before it hits the floor.
“Customers come in all the time and say, ‘Hey, is this all the inventory you have?’ Can I see what’s behind? Essentially, that’s what it’s going to be: look at our storage and first look at the inventory that we get in the store,” says Paul.
Paul says the idea for the app came from customers who can’t easily access his store but still want to connect with owners and other sneaker lovers.
The app is free to download, and the monthly subscription costs $15, of which $3 is donated to the Detroit Public Schools Community District. The Renaissance High School graduate says this is just the beginning of his plans to continue growing and giving back to the community that raised him.
“No matter how big we get, we will always make sure to give back to the city; and we want people to actually be able to see where those dollars are going and the impact it’s having,” says Paul. . “I feel that it is very important to start with the youth – children in schools. We have to start young, teach them some things, things that I didn’t necessarily get growing up [Detroit public schools.]”
Paul said he admires how Big Sean gives back to local students and would like to contribute in a similar way, whether it’s by offering entrepreneurship courses or internships for students. Paul says he’s even developing a design challenge for students to submit their own original designs, with the winner being rewarded with their own item sold in his store.
Fire Exchange will launch on both Android and iOS on Monday, September 26. Fahrenheit 313 is located at 20114 Livernois Ave., Detroit; fahrenheit313.com.