By Steve Sears
Denville resident Rosemarie Roscoe got the word that Denville Shoe Repair was the place to go for shoe repair.
“My niece, for her wedding, she had her shoes widened,” says Roscoe . “So, she came here and said, ‘Wow, they’re right here,’ and she just really loved it.”
Roscoe’s ringing of the counter bell can’t be heard over the hammering of a sole being grounded onto a shoe by Mike, Denville Shoe Repair owner Boghos (Paul) Tarakdjian’s best friend and work buddy. So, Tarakdjian grabs a cow bell on the front counter and clangs it. All work ceases, silence ensues, Mike raises his eyes to the customer, smiles, and heads over to assist her.
“People even come in here at Christmas time and ring it,” Tarakdjian says with a laugh about the cow bell.
Tarakdjian served as Best Man at Mike’s wedding and is godfather of his children. They have known each other since they were teenagers. They’re best friends.
Tarakdjian considers his customers his friends as well, and although he has thought about retiring (he’s 75), he loves the shoe business and his clientele so much that he drives to and from his Palisades Park home six days a week. “I keep this business going for my customers.”
Denville Shoe Repair has been in business since 1933, but Tarakdjian, who came to the United States in 1977 from Ethiopia, took over the location 26 years ago. “I was a plant manager and technical man and design. I was the Chairman in Ethiopia of all the shoe factories,” he explains, then states he was in Ethiopia for five years, and then visited New York City for a shoe show. He knew the United States would be his eventual stop. Prior to that, he embarked for Italy and signed a contract to manage the MSF (Modern Shoe Factory) in Cypress. He moved his family to Cypress, after that to Sweden, and joined them at the end of 1979. However, when he didn’t get a work permit in that country, he left to come to the United States and study. He found a job at a Coach handbag factory in Cliffside Park, and 7 weeks later found another job managing factories for Lafayette Footwear Corp. in New York City and in Lewiston, Maine.
It was all coming together for him. “In the meantime, I bought a Hoboken shoe repair store,” he says. The store? Faro Shoe Repair. He kept the prior owner on and changed the name to Faro & Tarakdjian Shoe Repair & Dry Cleaning, and remained there until 1995 when he learned of Denville Shoe Repair, an established business at that time for 62 years that was for sale. He knew it was a gem in a gem of a community and bought it. “I’m glad I came to the town,” he says. “My customers support me well. It’s a very good location. I was in Hoboken and I was very successful. But I’m here (in Denville) and my customers are respectful.”
It’s 88 years and counting at 1 West Main Street.
The 535 square foot Denville Shoe Repair is much more than shoes. They also repair expensive handbags including redoing the interior lining, jacket and boot zippers, and sneakers. “Any kind of stain, we do (remove) it, any kind of color, we dye it, with a 100% guarantee the dye doesn’t come out,” Tarakdjian says. Denville Shoe Repair, which sells items like shoe polish, laces, brushes, and much more, are also orthopedic specialists. “Doctor prescriptions,” Tarakdjian says. “We used to take three of four hours,” he says regarding prepping the specialty shoes. “Now we take 30 to 45 minutes because of technology.”
Like most businesses, COVID19 affected Denville Shoe Repair. “This coronavirus is a killer,” he states. “That’s one word – it’s a killer.” His business is down, but he also realizes the struggles of others, offering discounts, and even additional discounts to senior citizens. Senior citizens also get a 30% discount on orthopedic shoes. “And anything wrong from our side, we will redo it free,” he says.
Tarakdjian has been married since 2001 to his wife, Lina, and the couple has a son, Paul Michael (17). Tarakdjian also has a daughter, Lucy, from a prior marriage, and she is the mom of his two grandchildren, Alec and Kathy. He speaks of his family with pride and does likewise about Denville Shoe Repair. There’s the excitement for Tarakdjian every morning when he arrives from Palisades Park to open his Denville Shoe Repair doors. “That’s my life,” he says, gesturing with a nod to the back work area. “I love the smell. Sometime when I open the glue – the gallon glue, I shake it and I open it – that smell makes me happy,” he says with a huge smile. And Tarakdjian, despite the pandemic and business reduction, is always a happy guy. “I’m still here, I’m happy here, I’m happy at home, and I’m happy with my customers here in Denville. I try to live the best way that I can.”
“And thank you to my customers; they support me all the way.”
For more information, visit www.denvilleshoerepairnj.com or call (973) 627-9741.