Son takes over father's shoe business after he was killed, thriving 4 years later

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Leather wine carriers may be unique to Georgio's in northwest Fresno, but the leather business is in the blood of its namesake.

"My dad really laid all the foundation for what we have here," said Arsen Sheklian.

George Sheklian moved to the U.S. in 1962 with eight bucks in his pocket and built a cobbler's business on kindness and hard work.

Arsen " Georgio" Sheklian took over where his father left off, but it wasn't always what he wanted.

He tried out the music business and toured Italy for most of a decade.

But even when he sang, footwear came to mind.

"When I woke up this morning. I laced up my blue suede shoes."

When he realized leather really was his calling, the time spent in Italy actually paid dividends.

"Just being in Italy, which is so immersed in the leather culture, I mean, the handmade artiginale, just everything very good quality," said Georgio.

Italy and 1940s Americana inspired the decor of his new shop in the North Pointe Shopping Center at Palm and Herndon.

Customers are slowly finding the new spot.

Arsen left behind his father's old shop -- Sierra Shoe Repair, four months ago.

He wanted his own place, but more importantly, he wanted to leave the shadow of what happened in the shopping center in December 2014.

A robber inside a gun store killed George Sheklian as the 85-year-old tried to deliver coffee to the store's owner.

"Like it's always having that on your shoulder or looking behind you, it kind of does hinder you," said Georgio.

Arsen says his creativity and art have expanded with the move.

It still takes him 80 hours to make a pair of shoes when it takes Nike maybe 45 minutes.

But it's worth the effort.

As his dad said: if you do good work, people will follow you.

"I'm carrying on my dad's legacy, really. I mean, this is something he built and I'm riding his coattails like I always say," said Georgio.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.