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1526 Commercial Dr, Vancouver BC V5L 3Y2
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In 1967, a young couple set out to Italy for an unusual honeymoon: a shoe buying expedition! Newlyweds Carmine and Isa D’Onofrio decided to combine business with pleasure back in their native country.

“My parents quit their jobs and went on a two-month holiday to buy shoes,” says their daughter Veralena Casellato, who now runs Kalena’s Shoes & Accessories, an iconic footwear emporium on Commercial Drive. “My parents met in Canada but they both emmigrated from Italy. They went back to buy shoes because my mother complained that she could not find good quality leather shoes here.”

When they returned from their honeymoon, Isa and Carmine founded Kalena’s , named after Veralena’s father’s home town in in the Molise region. The couple was determined to introduce Vancouver women to classically elegant, impeccably constructed Italian shoes. “That is still what we sell today,” explains Veralena. The European footwear shop was an instant success; it seems Vancouverites were ready for stylish, well-made and comfortable Italian shoes for men and women.

Growing up, Veralena admits she lived the dream of many a young girl – she got to dress up in gorgeous shoes every day. “It was like magic to be in the store when I was young," she recalls. "I always wore the most beautiful shoes to school.” When she got older, Veralena accompanied her father on buying trips to Italy. "He taught me how to look for high-quality craftsmanship,” she says.

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