Laco Sac: Interview with Natasha Kharabian

Natasha Kharabian
Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about Laco Sac?
Natasha Kharabian: Laco Sac is where you head when you're planning a trip, where you go when you need a unique touch to a contemporary outfit, or simply the place to browse when searching to be inspired by beautiful and well- made products. Founded in 1988 and independently run for over two decades, Laco Sac is now a market leader and staple in the toronto retail scene. Setting the bar high, we are inspired by the newest and most innovative travel ideas without losing sight of our commitment to quality products for every budget. Modern, unique, luggage, rich leather business cases, handbags and wallets, trust worth brand names, all united in a boutique style environment where shopping regains its relaxation and joy. the family run business prides itself not only in carrying high quality products but also in providing honest service and advice for all its patrons. For thousands of loyal customers who flock back for each occasion or every travel need and also for those who search in cities across Canada, we are determined to make shopping with us even more fun and accessible.
OUR PHILOSOPHY: We're shoppers too! We are well informed and up to date with what is current' What is both fashionable and practical, unique and affordable. What Laco Sac offers is that perfect blend of what you NEED and simply what you WANT!

Sarah Velasco: You mentioned that the store is unique in terms of merchandise, but also the way it is run. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Natasha Kharabian: We're one of the only stores that is still independently run. Where the owners work in each location and take the time to create special relationships and trust with clients. We care about the individuals who whop from us, and therefore, take picking which products and lines we carry very seriously. We are well informed and well versed in each item we sell and this understanding helps us find our customers the right product according to their specific needs, be it size of luggage, the weight, or the price. We also like to keep current with what is new on the market to make sure that our shoppers are getting the most up to date models, styles and colours. But it is our unparalleled customer service above all else that has ensured that our business has flourished over the years. It is our genuine care and concern for the customer along with personal relationships we create that keeps them returning time and time again. We are so confident in the longevity of our luggage that we handle all warranty services pertaining to products purchased from us.

Sarah Velasco: How did the company start and what is your role?
Natasha Kharabian: In 1987, my parents arrived in Toronto, my father had an interror design degree but lacked the Canadian experience. Eager to create a life for themselves, the young couple decided to invest in a business which would incorporate their passion and their education. Fashion and travel seemed right up their alley. the Laco Sac flagship store originated in a closet sized space in the Eaton Center, my father as its only employee. But it didn't take long for people to take notice. With an emphasis on quality, Laco Sac quickly established itself as a trustworthy retailer. As the years passed, many similar stores have opened and closed and yet Laco Sac continues to row with the support of its loyal clientele. I have literally grown up in Laco Sc. For over a decade now I have shadowed every step of my parents and tried to improve the business to the best of my abilities. I'm at every show, speaking with our wholesalers and inspecting new lines. I am constantly hunting for luggage sales to ensure our prices are competitive. I speak to our customers and If i notice more than one client searching for an item I do not carry, I make sure to find a wholesaler and bring it in (this most recently occurred with purse oranizers). I also handle customer concerns and things pertaining to warranty services. My main objective is to ensure that each customer is smiling when they leave the store. My most recent endeavor has been the Laco Sac online boutique. I have had so many out of town customers pleading that we open up Laco Sac stores across the country so that they could access us more frequently and easily. My solution was the online store. For now it's a browse only site but the plan is to have the boutique ready for customer purchases in early 2012. 

Sarah Velasco: What brands do you carry and how often do you get new merchandise in?
Natasha Kharabian: We receive new shipments twice a week and carry brands from all over the world. We are the biggest dealer of Jansport products in Canada. We also carry North Face, Swiss Gear, Samsonite, Samsonite Black Label, Delsey, David Jones, Carbrelli, Briggs and Riley, Le Sportsac, Matt n Nat, Obus Forme, Kenneth Cole, B Makowsky, Christopher Kon, Hedgren, american Tourister, Carlton, Samboro, Adidas and Puma. We are also proud to carry Canadian brands such as Heys, Mancini, Hih Fashion, La Diva, Roots, and Miss Mak!

Sarah Velasco: What types of things does the store carry? (Luggages, purses etc)
Natasha Kharabian: We have a huge and ever changing selection of items pertaining to both fashion and travel. Luxurious leather handbags, purse organizers, leather wallets, luggage, leather briefcases and portfolios, pilot cases, laptop bags, back packs, duffle bags, toiletry bags, evening purses, change purses, passport wallets, luggage scales, and a wide selection of travel accessories including locks, pillows, tags, adaptors and convertors, waist and neck pouches. 

Sarah Velasco: Where can readers find Laco Sac?
Natasha Kharabian: Laco Sac has three locations in and around Toronto. the flagship store is located in The Toronto Eaton Center. in the heart of downtown Toronto. A second location in North York, at Fairview Mall, located at the corner of Donmills and Sheppard. Our third location is located in Vaughn Mills Mall, on Bass Pro Mills. In addition we are looking forward to the launch of the Laco Sac online boutique at www.lacosac.ca, where customers searching for us across Canada can shop. 

Sarah Velasco: Can you give readers some travel tips you have accumulated over the years?
Natasha Kharabian: Pack light, organize with packing cubes, carry a luggage scale, four wheeled luggage will definitely make your life easier, polycarbonate is your friend, TSA locking systems keep you safe and customers happy, if you're going to buy a soft sided luggage look for ballistic nylon, it's rip resistant. And always check to make sure your luggage has a good warranty; it gives you a great way to gage how long the product is expected to last. 

Sarah Velasco: What are some misconceptions people often have?
Natasha Kharabian: That four wheeled luggage is more vulnerable to damage than two wheeled luggage.
This may have been true with the first generation of four wheel luggage, but at this point in the game, two wheeled luggage is becoming obsolete. The convenience of spinner luggage has beat out the competition and with companies like Delsey and Samsonite offering 10 year warranties on their luggage, including wheels, (which we take care of for our shoppers), customers should feel secure that their product is going to last. That hard shells crack - Polycarbonate is the newest trend is hard case suitcases. Polycarbonate is a super flexible and lightweight material. Similar to Tupperware polycarbonate is durable and long lasting. 
That the lighter the case the better- Because of new enforced weight restrictions on luggage, most people are in search for luggage that is super light weight. Although there are many lighter cases on the market, it is important to find a good balance between light weight and great quality. When a suitcase is ultra light, it becomes more vulnerable to damage, since some of the pieces are hallowed out or lighter and less durable materials are used in their composition. 

Sarah Velasco: Can you recommend some product staples for all our readers should have from Laco Sac?
Natasha Kharabian: Packing cubes. With most suitcase companies removing the built in organization pockets to save on weight, packing cubes are a great way to stay organized when traveling.
The Xscale: This small and light, digital scale helps all travelers deal with weight restrictions before, during and when returning from vacations.
TSA locks: For security reasons many airlines ask that suitcase are left unlocked. The new TSA approved locks give travelers the peace of mind of locking their suitcase, because customs officials have a universal key which gives them the option of unlocking your case if they feel it's necessary. 
Neck or waist pouch: Keep your valuables where you can see them These thin and comfortable pouches hide underneath clothing and are a great way to keep all documentation, cash, and small valuables safe. 

Sarah Velasco: Is there a #1 best seller?
Natasha Kharabian: Our Desley Helium Ultra Light suitcase is extremely popular. This midsized case weighs 4.1 kilograms. This soft sided spinner is available in both black and brown and is internationally warranted for ten years, which covers any damae to zippers, handles, wheels, and stitching. It also retails for a fraction of the price of other cases in its class.

Sarah Velasco: Any upcoming products readers should look forward to?
Natasha Kharabian: We have new products coming in every week. We are looking forward to the Disney inspired line of suitcases for adults, which will launch in mid October and is already receiving tons of buzz. We're also looking forward to new lines with new innovations including built-in scales and finger print locks. No dates yet, but we're excited