Shelf Life is a Jewish–American family saga about the rise of its fashion retailing empire and how it splits and ultimately devastates the family.
As the son of Max Feldman, the self-proclaimed “sodbuster from Omaha” and brilliant founder of the successful fashion shoe store chain Fratelli Massimo, Josh Feldman has always known his destiny . . . working alongside his father and one day succeeding him, a career path promised to him by Max. Starting with one store in the 1950s financed by his mother’s trust fund, his father has taken advantage of the heyday of shopping malls to grow the St. Louis–based business to hundreds of locations across the United States. At industry events, he’s not just some Midwestern family business boss but a rock star courted by suppliers, shopping center developers, and the media.
Josh is eager to step into his father’s role. Unlike his charismatic brother and his sophisticated New York-born and -bred mother, who inherited her powerful father’s cunning but is more interested in literature and raising her sons, Josh is passionate about the family business. He is his father’s son and presumed successor. But as he comes of age, starts a family of his own, and works his way up in the business, Josh slowly begins to understand his father’s penchant for treachery. With Max’s ruthless ambition and his drive to be celebrated for his success, will Josh ever be allowed to succeed him?
When the family is divided over the future of the business, Josh must face the fact that his father’s pledge to him may have exceeded its shelf life.