-taken from The East Toronto Observer
Pape Village Meat and Deli shop owner Pavlo Tzompras remembers a time when his father would take him to work.
“I was always there, was always watching,” Tzompras said. “It is always a privilege for when you are a young kid for your father to take you to work.”
Having left the Danforth area, where he worked in restaurants for the past three years, 21-year-old Tzompras has carried on the family tradition and become a butcher.
“My godfather is a butcher, a lot of family, uncles are all butchers,” he said.
Tzompras’s first work experience took place in his uncle’s butcher shop, and like any other first job, he didn’t know what to expect.
“I was a little nervous, because you don’t know how it’s going to go,” he said. “But at the same time you think it’s going to be easier because you’re family or something like that, but it’s not really true.”
Despite the tough treatment from his boss, Tzompras grew fond of the job and knew this wouldn’t be the last time he would be involved in the business.
“I saw myself working in the industry…. When you are growing up your parents always want what is best for you,” he said. “My father always told me to go work with your uncle. From the first day I ever did the job I always enjoyed it.”
Born and raised in East York, Tzompras followed his instincts and decided to reopen the business that his father once owned.
“When I saw the place I said to myself, here’s my chance to get something going for myself,” he said.
Despite the usual competition from larger grocery stores, Tzompras’s new project seems to be doing fine. The shop has now been open for a month.
“You have big grocery stores like Food Basics and Sobey’s and the huge Loblaws Superstores all over the place nowadays,” he said. “Their meat comes pre-packaged on the shelf, ready to go home.”
But worrying about what the competitors are doing is not something that troubles Tzompras too much.
“I try to just stay focused on my store. I want to try and make sure that I always have product; just concentrate on my business and get everything going,” he said.
Getting the store on its feet was a bit of challenge, but members of Tzompras’s family were willing to give their support.
“I’ve gotten a lot of help from my uncles and aunts. A couple of my uncles are in construction helping me fix it up and stuff so I’ve been working really hard on that,” he said.
In starting a business like this, Tzompras realizes that some people from the area might be wary of a young shopkeeper.
“A lot of the older people in the area, they see such a young guy in business; they are kind of nervous I guess,” he said. “At the same time, my father was in the industry for so many years, people know me from the area here where I grew up.”
His father is still offering his guidance today.
“I have gotten a lot of support from my dad. He helps me if I need something. I trust his word,” he said. “He taught me a lot and I’m thankful for that. I kind of feel that I have to live up to his potential, but at the same time we all decide our own. As long as I work hard I think he’ll be happy.”