TRURO, N.S. – Davinder Singh Mavi had spent a year travelling around Italy in a cheap pair of shoes.
Like most young people in 1994, Mavi found other things to spend his money on over quality footwear.
Soon though, he found his cheap shoes were causing sharp pains and aches in his legs and ankles.
After receiving a pair of Italian-made leather shoes from his father for Christmas, the pain was no longer there.
Since then, he hasn’t worn any other footwear, and even brought a few pairs with him when he packed up and headed to Canada for work.
Now, Mavi is sharing his love of Italian footwear with Truro through his new business, AA Wearhouse, which provides Italian safety and active footwear for those looking to put a bit of quality into their step.
“This year demand is increasing, especially with the ladies looking for high-quality leather products,” said Mavi.
“I’m heading to Italy in March to bring over 20 new female styles, and I am also looking at expanding into Italian wallets and purses. Sure it will cost a lot more, but it’s a business. You have to spend a bit at the start to make any profit.”
The idea of bringing Italian shoes into the Atlantic Canadian market came to Mavi after moving to P.E.I. in 2012, where he worked on a dairy farm.
“I noticed the guy I was working with was wearing the same Italian boots as me,” he said.
“They were not available in North America at the time, so we asked each other where we got them from, I said Italy and he said Ireland, and that’s when it clicked – We should bring Italian footwear into Canada.”
In 2017, Mavi became the Nova Scotia regional manager for Atlantic Safety Wear, a P.E.I. company created by his former co-worker that runs distribution within North America for Grisport, an Italian safety and active footwear company.
After moving to Bible Hill in August, and struggling to sell footwear from a company van for the first few months, Mavi decided he needed a storefront of his own, and opened AA Wearhouse in October on the Esplanade.
“Opening the store has really helped bring more attention to our footwear,” he said.
“This storefront is great, it’s wide open for people to look in as they walk by, and there is a pizzeria, a laundry mat and a bar nearby, so there is plenty of foot traffic. Soon after I moved in, I got a contract with Commissionaires next door for new boots.”
While the store is expanding into more casual Italian footwear, AA Wearhouse’s shelves are still lined with safety gear, including a unique pair of handmade welder’s boots which feature Kevlar stitching, Velcro fastening and a heat resistant sole up to 380ºc.
“I even tested these boots out by throwing them on the oven at the pizzeria next door,” Mavi chuckled.