Dave Schmalfeldt, the owner of Itzin’s Shoes and Repairs, in his store on Tuesday. Schmalfeldt and his staff hosted a sales event on Saturday that raised nearly $14,000 for the children of an area man who died in a construction accident March 4. (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

Shoe store raises nearly $14,000 for family of man who died in accident

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

Dave Schmalfeldt never had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Azarian.

“I wish I would have known him,” Schmalfeldt said after hearing the many good things people had to say about the 32-year-old who died March 4 as the result of a forklift accident at a job site in Milwaukee.

However, that lack of familiarity didn’t prevent Schmalfeldt and his employees at Itzin’s Shoes in downtown Burlington from stepping up to help secure a better future for the two children – a newborn son and a daughter, 4 – Azarian leaves behind.

Anthony Azarian

Itzin’s pledged 50 percent of the proceeds from all sales at the store on Saturday to an account set up to benefit Azarian’s children. And while that’s generally perceived as a great gesture on the part of the store, few people – Schmalfeldt included – could have predicted the response.

Store Manager Tiffany Cramer was slated this week to cut a check to Azarian’s fund in the amount of $13,977.23.

It was the store’s biggest sales day ever.

“We had 25 people at a time standing in the store from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Schmalfeldt said, noting that he and six other employees served customers during the event in his store at 436 N. Pine Street.

“It was just super overwhelming support,” he said. “People came out that didn’t even need footwear.”

Schmalfeldt said some of his regular customers came out to order an extra pair of work boots – that they’d store in their closets for future use – just so the proceeds would go to Azarian’s family.

“People showed up from Chicago,” he added. “The generosity was overwhelming – humbling.”

The fundraiser for Azarian’s children was set up by his friend Sammy D’Alie. It can be found online by visiting Facebook and searching for Sammy D’Alie. The donation from Itzin’s should put the effort over $100,000. The Facebook site as of Tuesday evening showed a total of $95,285 donated by 1,842 people.

A tragic accident

Azarian, a Waterford Union High School graduate and state runner-up wrestler died when the forklift he was operating plunged more that 80 feet down a freight elevator shaft.

Azarian, who lived in Racine, was working for his family’s company, Azarian Wrecking, at the CH Coakley and Co. building, 3742 W. Wisconsin Ave., when the accident occurred at 1:42 p.m., according to a report provided by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office.

To read the entire story see the March 14 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.