Fabiano Boots or Cement Overshoes?
During the winter of 1974, SD retail suffered a setback when The North Face took over U.S, distribution of Lowa boots which had been our top selling boot line but would now to be featured in all TNF stores.
Come March and we hadn’t found a replacement line so when Paul Kramer, Frank Gretch and myself headed to the WWSRA rep show at the SF airport Hilton we did so with one mission- to find a new boot line.
Each of us worked the show on our own agreeing to meet at day’s end and discuss various boot lines and hopefully make a choice and place an order the next day.
We met for a beer and as it turned out all three of us had picked the same line-Fabiano, a line we knew prior to the show only for their telemark ski boot which was way ahead of the curve when it came to stiffness and support. The hiking boots looked good but would they sell?
As to the brand, we soon learned that the South Boston, Mass based company was owned an operated by Edward (Eddie) Fabiano. He came from a long line of Italian shoe and boot makers and his current product line was made in Italy. Assisting Eddie was Nunzio Canizo who, when I would later try my schoolboy Italian on him would say: “Bobby, you make me laugh at the way you speak ‘La Bella Lingua’ (the beautiful language).”
We started small with Fabiano concentrating on a one boot model-the Ria, which we deemed perfect for users wanting a boot they could both hike and backpack in comfortably.
Our first five months with Fabiano, Ria sales doubled every month. And they kept growing to the point that within a year, SD was Fabiano’s number one U.S. dealer. We were happy, Eddie was happy Nunzio was happy.
And then the roof fell in. Not for SD or Fabiano but for me. And it came about after I’d left SD to become a freelance writer. And at the heart of the matter was a not-too-complimentary review I’d written about a Fabiano cross-country ski boot in a ski magazine.
In that review I questioned the boots durability as they were nowhere, in my opinion, of the same quality that Fabiano had become famous for.
I’d forgotten the review entirely when I strolled into the Fabiano booth at the 1976 SIA show in Las Vegas. There I was greeted by a grim-faced Nunzio Canizo. “Bobby,” he said quietly, “Eddie is very angry with what you and what you wrote.”
Then Eddie appeared, He started screaming that I was a “traitor”, a “liar” and more. He picked up boots from his display and threw them at me. He put his face up against my chest and howled at me.
A crowd gathered around the booth as the rampage continued. And then, Eddie paused. He took a deep breath, grabbed me by both shoulders, gave me a kiss of each cheek and said loudly, “I love you Bobby, You’re like family. Now get outta here.”
Photo of Eddie lifted from here.
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