Our Story

Solid history and a bright future.

Our Story

120 Years in business is no small thing.

Trust our track record of professionalism and success; we have over a century of experience — and counting.

Our stories matter. They show what's important to us; they reveal what we’re made of. At City Paper, we’ve run a family business for over 100 years. That means we know our stuff; it also means we’re trustworthy, ethical and dependable — otherwise, we never would have made it this far.

We’re in the business of storytelling — through branding, through corporate collateral, and through promotional materials that help others see the best of your business. We help you tell your story. Want to learn more about ours? Our timeline traces our brightest moments, our strong leaders, and a few of the long-term partnerships that have helped to make us who we are

Today's Leadership

The Friedman family joined City Paper in the early 1900s, and we're still a family-owned company today. Paul and Mark Friedman took over their father's business, and their children are part of our leadership. Today, Mark’s son, Brad, is the CEO and President of City Paper.

July 23, 1887

City Paper is founded by A. Lesser & Louis Braun in Birmingham, Alabama. When City Paper first opened its doors, the City of Birmingham was 26-years-old with a population of only 66,277 "souls" as listed in the 1897 directory. Jacob Friedman moves from New York to Birmingham, Alabama to open a men's clothing store.

Early 1900s

Bromberg's in Birmingham joins the City Paper family. In the 1920s, City Paper continues selling school supplies, toilet paper and paper bags. Jacob Friedman sells his clothing store and buys 50% interest in City Paper from his brother-in-law Mannie. The following year, Jacob bought the other 50% as Mr. Band wanted to retire.


From Paul Friedman, Sr.: "Since Dad had been ill for several years and had been unable to go to the business at all, it had floundered, and after the funeral I was presented with a very frank and unpleasant set of facts by my Dad’s close friend and attorney.

He said that there was no way, that at my age, I could pull the business out as it was hopelessly in debt and that an 18-year-old could never make it run. His suggestion was to get what I could out of business and file bankruptcy.

Even though I was then only 18, I told this very close friend of my father that I had no intention of letting the very first business decision of my young life be one to bankrupt and, if that was his frank and only suggestion, then he was fired as City Paper Co.’s and my attorney, as of that moment."


In the 1950s, shopping centers and strip malls started popping up in every city. The desire for colorful, more glamorous bags was in high demand and City Paper was there to deliver.

1960s & 1970s

During the 1960s, Cracker Barrel joined the City Paper family. In the next decade, Sons Paul Jr. and Mark Friedman join City Paper and City Paper adds Art Department to design custom packaging, thus continuing to surprise customers with the hottest new prints. City Paper also opens a showroom at the America's Mart in Atlanta, GA.

1980s and ‘90s

In the 1980s, Paper Works opens to rave reviews. Paul and Mark Friedman open Paper Works, a one-of-a-kind party goods store that became the go-to destination for great party ideas. Their sister Sandy Friedman ran the business with her sister-in-law Cathy Friedman (Mark’s wife). From birthdays and weddings to Bar/ Bat Mitzvahs and Christmas parties, anybody who dreams of hosting the perfect event knows exactly where to go.


City Paper celebrates its 100th Anniversary. Paul Friedman Jr. becomes President & CEO of City Paper and brother Mark becomes Executive Vice President. Cafe du Monde joins the City Paper family.


Paul Friedman Sr. (Pop Pop) passes away. He proudly never retired.


The City Paper Company has grown to 30 people who feel more like family than they do employees. Mark's son, Brad, and daughter-in-law, Stephanie are the next generation to carry on the Friedman legacy.

"As we look forward to the future we, of course, realize that there will be days of plenty and days that are not so great but our feeling here is that we live in the greatest land in the world. No other country offers so many freedoms and so great an opportunity to succeed as does America and our opportunities are really limited only by our own ability."

We have always felt that the best way to succeed is to be totally honest with our customers and never to misrepresent any item or any transaction we have with them.

We have found that this does pay off in the long run and if experience combined with new youthful ideas, the best sources of supply in America, and an honest approach to business are any criteria for making it “today”, then we look forward with great anticipation to this exciting decade and feel like we will do all right.” - Paul Friedman, Sr. (aka PopPop)

We Are Family

Meet Our People

Learn more about the staff members who make City Paper Special.