Unsung Hero #244

As an orthopedic physical therapist, David Curtis knows all about taking care of feet.

And as a longtime local resident, he knows that the best person to care for his own shoes is George Ouzounidis.

In his 40 years as owner of Westfair Shoe Repair opposite Stop & Shop, he’s developed a loyal clientele. They appreciate and admire his great work, attention to detail — and all the little things that make his small store such a warm, welcoming place.

“There’s always a smile on his face. He’s happy-go-lucky and jovial,” Curtis says. “If you’re having a bad day, by the time you leave you’re in a good mood.”

But George is also a dedicated, hardworking craftsman. He works on more than shoes. Boots, belts, all things leather; thick nylon, like collars and leashes — he fixes them all.

George Ouzounidis. in his Westfair Shoe Repair Shop. (Photo/David Curtis)

During his long career, George has worked on damaged or worn Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Chanel and Ferragamo items, worth thousands of dollars.

He’s spent as much time and care on items that are valuable only to customers, like a deceased dog’s collar or leash.

He works too on things that no one at all might care about, like stuff found in a trunk in a grandparent’s attic.

Whether it’s soccer shoes worn in a state championship match ro Army boots worn on the beaches of Normandy — George makes it look, feel and work like new.

With soft Greek music playing in the background, George’s go-to greeting is “my friend.”

“Whenever I walk in, the first thing I hear is ‘My friend, how have you been?'” Curtis notes.

“Whenever I leave, it’s ‘My friend. I will do the best I can. My friend, when do you need this?'”

And, Curtis adds, “He under-charges and over-delivers. He’s so honest.”

The other day, Curtis forgot his wallet. George — who accepts cash or checks only — said, “No worries, my friend. Pay me next time.’

“George is a town icon. A legend. A treasure. A dying breed,” praises Curtis. “He is vintage Westport.”

(I’m amazed George has never been nominated as an Unsung Hero before. Then again, his quiet concern, care and competence are the essence of what an Unsung Hero is.)

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email 06880blog@gmail.com. To help support “06880” with a financial contribution, click here.)

16 responses to “Unsung Hero #244

  1. Peter Flatow

    He is also great at re-palming hockey gloves!

  2. What the “old” Westport was…….my friend.

  3. I LOVE stories like this! And I love to hear there are people like Mr. Ouzounidis still around and in our town. What a treasure! Mr. Ouzounidis just got a new customer — me!

  4. Ellen and Mark Naftalin

    Agreed. He’s the best and such a nice man.

  5. Celeste Champagne

    Well overdue kudos to George.

  6. Diana Heisiger

    Been using George for many years…..he is incredible and bring a smile to your face just by his smile. My son Cody did a comment after George repaired his vintage Vans……Vans looked like new. after George got done. Thank George for all you do! Diana

  7. He took good care of me a couple of weeks ago. Ever since Rick (Westport Shoe Repair Riverside Ave. and Sherwood Square prior) left, he is my guy!

    • brad french

      Rick was a good friend and same kind of guy.

      • Absolutely true Brad. He and his father could and did repair anything leather. Sometimes I would just wander into the shop to shoot the breeze. Miss those days and those guys.

  8. Jamie Walsh

    He is an AMAZING Craftsman! We would not take our shoes to anyone else!

  9. Fred Cantor

    George looked familiar—and I thought it was perhaps from playing soccer together at one point. But Debbie informed me that she used to bring various items to him and that he did very good work and was very reliable. (So perhaps that’s why he seems familiar.) An excellent choice.

  10. rosemary milligan

    Does anyone but me remember the shoe repair shop (very tiny) next to the diner across from the old library? Jusr wondering.

  11. Nancy Axthelm

    So well deserved. He is such a kind man and a craftsman. He repaired a dress bag that was my late mother’s and meant a lot to me. I had wanted to wear it to my niece’s wedding, so that her that her grandmother could indeed be at her wedding celebration. As it turned out it required some glue and care. There was no charge. That, and this story, is his real gift.

  12. It is amazing he hasn’t been nominated before – he can fix anything and will let you know if it’s not worth fixing! Honest, nice, incredible craftsman. A treasure.

  13. Susan Iseman

    He does wonderful work. A reminder if you have not picked up your erpair- do it. He has lots of shoes that have been abandoned over the years and you can buy them from him!

  14. Could not agree with this more. George is incredibly friendly and very talented; I am grateful for him. Good call, Dan!