Alec's Shoes' founder built Nashua business the old-fashioned way
"Honestly, he had a great life — a true immigrant American story," John Koutsos said of his father. "He had to learn the language, which he did, and then he started a business from the ground up."
"My father was really obsessed with customer service and delivering a valuable product. He never very much cared about money at all," said the younger Koutsos, one of Alec's three children. "He wanted to please everyone, and that was the basis of his business."Described as a compassionate and generous man, Alec launched a shoe club program during a time when many customers couldn't often afford a new pair of shoes.
Alec was born in Greece, but immigrated to America when he was 17. He began working with his father and brother at their family shoe shop in Manchester, Charles K Shoes. After learning the ropes of the business, Alec ultimately branched off in 1938 to create his own shoe store in Nashua.
"I can remember walking over to the store after school and starting to sweep the floors and stock the shelves," said Koutsos, who eventually took over the downtown Nashua business from his father in the late 1980s.
In addition to Alec's passion for the retail industry, he was also talented with a camera. During his service in World War II, Alec was an aerial reconnaissance photographer who had a great love for traveling.
"I expect we will continue to thrive. I know the world is changing, but we are still thriving, and as long as customers still believe in the personal touch, I think we will do well," he said. "The principles that my father taught me are really tried and true, and should withstand the test of time."