June 13, 2024

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Vancouver may have changed a lot since 1967, but one way it has remained the same is the presence of locally owned footwear business Kalena’s Shoes.

Offering its own line of Italian fashion footwear, along with designs from in-demand brands, the family-owned footwear boutique aims to offer good value and great style. We caught up with manager-owner Veralena Casellato during the store’s milestone 56th anniversary year to learn more.

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Q: For those who aren’t familiar, what is Kalena’s Shoes?

A: Kalena’s Shoes is a family-run Italian shoe store established in 1967. Over the years, we have had numerous secondary locations, on Robson Street, in Oakridge Centre, Vancouver Centre and in North Vancouver, however the store on Commercial Drive located in the heart of Little Italy has always been considered home. We are proudly celebrating our 56th anniversary this year and continue to offer an exclusive selection of quality leather footwear for men, women and children.

Kalena’s also offers a great selection of leather handbags and accessories. We travel to Italy twice a year on buying trips to curate our own Kalena’s brand as well as buy from our trusted suppliers and craftsmen. We offer a great selection, and a unique shopping experience along with warm, personalized service In the last few years due to COVID we have adapted to the desires of local shoppers and have expanded our collection to include such quality brands as Fly London, Blundstone, Mephisto, Geox, Amalfi and, most recently, Vessi’s.

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Kalena's Shoes
Kalena’s Shoes heels, $255. Kalena’s Shoes

Q: When and why did it start? 

A: Kalena’s was founded in 1967 by my parents, Carmen and Isa D’Onofrio. It was the year that they married, both quit their jobs and bravely ventured to Italy on their first buying trip, which incidentally doubled as their honeymoon. They felt that the Canadian market lacked the quality, fashionable leather footwear that they had grown accustomed to in Italy. So they began importing shoes as well as leather handbags directly from Italy for both retail and wholesale.

Q: What makes it unique? 

A: Kalena’s service and selection make it unique, especially in a time when good service is rare. Most shopping today has become a self-service experience, whether shopping online or in store. Even finding a salesperson to help get your size or process your purchase is a rarity. At Kalena’s, we are different. We answer questions about our products, inquire about the shoppers needs and help the customer find what they are looking for.

Q: Who is the target customer? 

A: We aim to please as many people as we can. We are a very inclusive store that sells products for men, women, teenagers, and children. We try to appeal to many tastes, from casual to dressy, waterproof and practical, to fun and fabulous.

Q: What is the price range for your products? 

A: The prices in store can range greatly depending out the type of product that you are looking for. An all-leather ladies shoe generally ranges from $165 to $295. Boots start at $225 and can go up to $595. Men’s shoes generally range from $195 to $395.

Q: And where can people learn more? 

A: @kalenashoes is on Instagram and Facebook, online at Kalenashoes.com and in store at 1526 Commercial Drive.

Aharris@postmedia.com

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