Kalena’s Italian Shoes and Accessories
Fifty years in operation is testament to the durability of any business to be sure.
Such is the case of Kalena’s Italian Shoes and Accessories standing proudly at 1526 Commercial Drive, now marking half a century.
It was founded by Carmine and Isa D’Onofrio in 1967.
“My parents got married and both quit their jobs and went on their first buying trip to Italy to get stock for the shop and opened Kalena’s Shoes in 1967”, says store manager Veralena Cassellato.
“My dad was in the shoe business prior and actually started a store with my uncle back around 1965. Dad passed away in 2005. My mother is still involved.”
As unique as Commercial Drive is today, it’s always had a rich history. What was it like back fifty years ago?
“It was more of a neighbourhood of Italian immigrants if you go back to the sixties and early seventies,” she tells me.
“Lots of people walking around; lots of shops; lots of retail: grocery stores, bakeries and people knew each other.
A lot of people that lived in the area didn’t have cars so many new immigrants would settle around Commercial Drive.
Commercial Drive has grown and changed and changed back again and now it seems to be changing once again.
We’ve had secondary locations along the way.
The Commercial Drive store has been here for 50 years but we’ve also been located on Robson Street; Oakridge Centre and Vancouver Centre Downtown - but this has always felt like home for us.”
Kalena’s secret to success is simple – quality!
And with 50 successful years behind them is planning underway for Kalena’s 75th Anniversary?
“Yeah sure, Veralena adds laughingly.
“All of the grandchildren were here for the 50th party and our newest arrival was born this year, so in 25 years we’ll have a new breed of employees.”
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