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Meet Knara & Michael Tokatlyans of Zipper Hospital in Brookline

Today we’d like to introduce you to Knara & Michael Tokatlyans.

Knara & Michael, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
The Zipper Hospital is unique business. Established in 1914 by a Jewish family that immigrated from Europe. It was originally located in Dorchester MA, then West Roxbury MA, and later in the 1940’s was moved to Brookline MA, where the business passed from father to son and was renamed to the family name “Richman’s zipper hospital.”

In 1987 my family and I immigrated from Soviet Armenia to the US to reunite with rest of the family in Arlington, MA to start a new life.  We began looking job opportunities and one morning my husband was reading the Boston Globe and found this business for sale. At that time, it was hard to imagine that we would end up buying a business and taking on the challenges that would come with it. But I had confidence in my tailoring skills and zipper repair that my grandmother and father taught me.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been easy at all. We often struggled to pay credit cards, money we borrowed from family and friends, bills, making the rent for our store and home and trying to provide for our family. My husband had to work a second job to pay for healthcare and other expenses. One of us had to drop off and pick up our children to and from school, but it became easier every year. Four years later we opened two more locations in Cambridge and Belmont MA, but later decided to sell them. On the 20th Anniversary of our ownership we deiced to change the name to The Zipper Hospital. Next year we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary and we are very thankful for our patrons and our community in Brookline MA and around the country that continue to work with us.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Zipper Hospital – what should we know?
The Zipper Hospital repairs and replaces zippers on any type of clothing, winter coats and parkas, handbags, backpacks, luggage and duffle and carryon bags, sleeping bags, tent covers, musical instruments cases, divers suits and just about anything that has a zipper. You can find a complete list of items on our website, that we are constantly updating.

We also do alternation any type and kind, nontoxic dry cleaning, sued and leather, fur repairs plus cleaning and dyeing. We also work on design projects with larger business establishments such night clubs universities and hospitals on projects. Some of our customers include, Perkins school of blind and Beth Israel Hospital.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Provide quality work, friendly customer service at an affordable price.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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