My Main Street-Verdi Shoes

If the Shoe Fits

Whether you’re looking for a comfortable but stylish pair for the office, a casual pair for running errands or a dressy special-occasion shoe, Victor Tchalekian is the man you need to see. With decades of business experience behind him, not only does this entrepreneur know customer service, but he also knows his shoes.

Women’s shoes at Verdi Shoes

“Like the tailor who never has any of his own suits, I’m the shoe man who only owns four or five pairs,” says Victor Tchalekian with a laugh.

The owner of Verdi Shoes comes by his vocation honestly. Growing up in Ivory Coast, he closely watched his father’s talent for creating footwear. “My father had a shoe factory and he designed everything. He’d import leather and other materials, then had his creations manufactured locally,” Tchalekian says. “I came to Canada in 1990 and studied the industry and decided to go into retail and import shoes from all over Europe. I didn’t start out in Vaughan, but I ended up here and I opened Verdi Shoes in 2012 after having other shoe stores across the Greater Toronto Area.”

You might be asking what makes Tchalekian’s shoe store different from other retailers, and that’s a fair question. The thing is, this is a man who truly lives and breathes footwear. His place is a one-stop shop—not only will you find ideal shoes for work and celebrations, but Verdi Shoes has great stock when it comes to more casual, comfortable varieties. “People need a bit of everything—from dressier options to go-to pairs. I order direct from factories based on what my customers want and need. So many stores bring in shoes that look good but aren’t comfortable—and vice versa. I try to ensure both are in every pair I sell,” he says, adding many of his shoes come from Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal. Another thing that makes him so different than competitors is that his shoes can be customized. “Some people can’t wear high heels, so if there’s a high-heel shoe they like, I can have the heel changed to more of a block heel. Same goes for people who have narrow heels that slip when they walk—I can put a strap around the ankle or instep. I am always happy to modify shoes,” he says.

Men’s designer shoes at Verdi Shoes

Tchalekian has a long history in business, but, like so many of his fellow owners, he is still recovering from the pandemic. “Weathering COVD-19 is one of my biggest achievements. I always said, ‘We are all in the water and we have to keep swimming until we get to the shore,’” he explains. “The worst is behind us, but it will take time to recover.” Vaughan’s My Main Street program came at the right time for Tchalekian, when a representative from the Vaughan Business and Entrepreneurship Centre visited him in his store. “It gave me the opportunity to upgrade and promote my store. I was able to change all the lights to improve my clients’ experience,” he says. “And I invested in advertising and marketing. My new website has better product photography, and all this has made a difference. I’ve had new customers come in—more people know about the store now.” (He also benefited from the city’s Starter Company Plus program.)

It’s been a long road, but Tchalekian has built a brand that truly delivers—and he still loves what he does. “I like shoes. I like making sure clients’ shoes are comfortable and look nice. If your feet are happy, so am I.”

31 Colossus Drive, Vaughan

Showroom floor at Verdi Shoes