The following is a summary of a prior interview conducted by Virginia Smith of Arlington’s Center for Local History on April 27, 2016.
Sam Torrey Shoe Service was opened in 1945 when Sam Torregrosa returned from World War II. Torrey opened his shop in the Cherrydale Firehouse, and it remained in Cherrydale until he moved the business to the corner of Lee Highway and North George Mason Drive in the early 1960’s. In 1986, the father of the current owner, Kevork Tchalekian, bought the business from Mr. Torrey.
Mr. Tchalekian’s family had been in the shoe repair business, and after his father bought the business, he brought in his son to learn it as well. After 30 years, Mr. Tchalekian has gained a devoted following that appreciates the craftsmanship that only somebody who has been in the business for years can achieve. Mr. Tchalekian has multiple employees working for him that have been there for over 15 years.
The store offers more than shoe repair. Mr. Tchalekian has expanded the range of repair services to luggage, jackets and other things that go with his type of business. He also offers a wide array of polishes, laces and foot care products to be a one-stop shop for all things shoe and leather-related. As the demand for artisan shoe repair keeps shrinking, more of these types of businesses are closing. Right now, that is keeping Mr. Tchalekian busy with hundreds of pairs of shoes to repair moving in and out of the store every couple of weeks. Mr. Tchalekian doesn’t need to advertise anymore, because word of mouth and the review websites out there do all the advertising he needs.
5267 Lee Hwy Arlington, VA 22207