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Saturday, Sep 30, 2023

Shoe Repair Steps Into Web Future

Cobbling has long been in decline as cheap footwear has gained popularity – a trend that has closed the doors on untold numbers of shoe-repair shops. Now, two Glendale business people think the profession long ago practiced in the ancient world can make the transition to the age of the Internet. Zabellos LLC is an online company that makes it easy for customers to repair aged or damaged shoes instead of buying new ones. “A really nice pair of shoes should not be thrown away. Broken in, you love them. Your feet love them,” said co-founder Andrew Torosyan, 39. “Why would you throw them away?” The business model is simple. Customers visit the website, zabellos.com, and are sent a kit with shipping material and labels. Shoes sent in are promised to be returned in eight days. Charges start at $49, including shipping. The business is a labor of love for Torosyan and his long-time friend, co-founder Carl Nazarian, 40. Both men come from a line of shoe craftsman – Torosyan’s father was in repair and Nazarian’s father was a custom shoemaker. “We’ve had a lot of people send in the first pair, then get them back and send in four more,” Nazarian said. “It takes them awhile to get used to, but once they see how the first ones turn out, then they’re willing to send a bunch.” For now the self-funded venture isn’t a full-time gig. Torosyan is keeping his day job as an accountant, and Nazarian is continuing to help out at his father’s business and do web consulting on the side. They’ve also used family connections to bring craftsmen into the San Fernando Road warehouse space where the shoes are repaired. The primary repairman is a cousin of Toroysan, while Nazarian’s father has begun referring clients from his shop. So what do their fathers think about their sons’ new venture? “They’re watching us really closely,” Nazarian said. “If we’re successful, they’re closing up shop and coming to work here.” – Kelly Goff

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