We had the good fortune of connecting with James Freeman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I have worked service industry and corporate jobs my entire life, 5 years ago I won full custody of my daughter and realized that I couldn’t be the kind of father she deserved working for someone else. I’ve had a lifetime interest in the macabre, starting with reading Tales from the Crypt comics as a kid in the 80s and have been collecting “oddities” for decades. With the encouragement of my wife Kate Fugate I decided to take the plunge into being a full time morbid antiques dealer. I’ve done my best to make sure that our business stands apart from other “oddities” dealers by not focusing on taxidermy and things in jars but on historically relevant artifacts. Every item tells a story, and those stories are what really keep me going. It’s was definitely the right decision to start Freeman and Fugate Oddities Co. It has lead to paid lectures on the circus sideshow, Houdini, the history of Ouija boards and spirit communication, and more. Our business also lead to partnering with Mike Zohn (star of the Science Channel’s TV show Oddities) on a traveling multi-vendor market called The Oddities Market. We’ve also been approached several times by TV producers and had several auditions for new reality shows. I don’t know where this is all going, but everyday is certainly an adventure, and it helps that I legitimately love the items I sell and have spent decades researching the historical figures and events that they relate to!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I grew up very poor, and never expected any sort of success in my life to be honest. When I quit my job to start this business it was terrifying. But I found quickly that if you really know your products inside and out and are passionate about them, people notice. I’m amazed every day that I get to make a living selling items that truly belong in a museum. When I was a kid I never could have imagined I would have personally owned and signed items from Harry Houdini, original Charles Addams and Robert Ripley artwork in my living room, or one of the largest Ouija board collections in the world among many other one of a kind museum pieces. To live with this stuff is an honor, and it’s amazing that I’m their caretaker until the next person comes along.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d say my favorite spot in Atlanta has to be Oakland Cemetery. It’s absolutely breathtaking and a perfect example of a Victorian park cemetery, where people would make a day out of picnicking and strolling amongst the dead. Also the Michael C. Carlos Museum has an incredible collection of Egyptian artifacts and mummies. As far as drinks, I’ve been a surf guitar player since the 90s and have a soft spot for Trader Vic’s. Food wise, there are so many places that I love, that’s a hard one. Kafenio and Rising Son in Avondale Estates are both top notch, My Parents Basement has a great beer selection and pinball with a comic shop. Star Bar and the Earl for live music for sure. Taco Naco in Tucker for tacos, Marcel’s for fine dining, Doc Chey’s for Asian fusion. I’m an avid skateboarder, and I skate every day even though I’m 40 and everything hurts. So if the person skated, Mountain Park Park has the best bowl in the Atlanta area in my opinion, and across the street is a fun street course called JB Williams. I’m also fully tattooed so I would probably take the person to see my friends Phil Colvin at Memorial Tattoo off Moreland Avenue or Malia Rifkin at Empire Arts Gallery. Atlanta has a lot of quality people and places!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The most important people in my life and the entire reason the business exists are my wife Kate and daughter Evelynn. Also shoutout to my lifelong hero Harry Houdini, who gave a poor kid like me the inspiration to escape my situation and rise above it.
Georgia Buck Photography for the shots of us