Erial over the years

 

71 years ago, in 1949, at 43 Kolokotroni Street in the heart of the post-war Athens trade, my grandfather George Anthopoulos founded ERIAL. A shop for the resale of hand-knitting and machine-knitting yarns of the Greek Lanaras factory. Two years later, his brother Dimitris and his son-in-law, Takis, came to the store.

The store, with hard work and emphasis on quality, grew and went through a course of 39 whole years until there, around 1988, it was time for the new generation to take over, that was my dad Kostas. Dad was 20 years old at the time, but he knew all about the job since he was directly involved in it from the young age of 15 years old. So the shop passed into the hands of my dad, who continued running it as my grandfather had. His mother, grandma Eleni, also helped him. Grandma was constantly knitting very nice things, all with Erial yarns because she said they are the BEST!! We still have many things in the store that she had knitted.

But Dad had many dreams and it was not enough for him to sell yarns made by others. Dad wanted to make his own yarns!

His dream came true in 1992 when uncle Dionysis, who was the husband of his sister Victoria, came to the store. The two of them got their first machines and ERIAL as a PRODUCTION UNIT was now a reality! They were searching to find suppliers of raw materials that had all the necessary certificates to ensure EXCELLENT RAW MATERIALS QUALITY. And they found them! PRODUCTION BEGUN!!! The first thread was ready: AURA 100% NATURAL SILK. And then another one, the PP 3B, which we still have in the store, but we call it POLYMNIA 100% polypropylene. And then another, and another and the production was growing and things were going as planned. - Uncle Dionysis was a great craftsman, so he was in charge of the production unit. Dad was a great merchant, so he took over the sale and distribution of the products. Dad and uncle Dionysis were very happy to have succeeded. But……. one day in 2006, so suddenly, uncle Dionysis passed away. Dad was left alone, without his partner, without his craftsman, without uncle Dionysis. The machines in the production unit could not stop even for a single day, the production had to continue.. Dad had to learn all about the machines and how they work. And he did. He worked non-stop in the production unit and learned how they operate with the help of Linda and Nikos. Dad now had to be in the production unit, so the shop welcomed its new members my mom Efi, aunt Matina... and me too… the 5 years old at the time boss….

My dad continued to have big dreams and the production unit, with the 25 machines he had with uncle Dionysis seemed small to him. He gradually bought more and when they could no longer fit in the production unit in 2017, we moved them to a larger facility in Tavros to be housed under 650 square meters!

 

It was there that a very good friend of my dad, Stavros, came to help and organize the business. He is the son of Mr. Tzanlis, the chief engineer of the well-known lace manufacturing company "Menti". Stavros practically grew up in the production unit that housed the machines that his father had made. He knows them like the back of his hand, he also brought them with him. Now Stavros is the master craftsman of ERIAL. He organizes all the production and makes the machines work at his own pace! Uncle Dimitris also came to work with us, he is responsible for showing our products in stores all over Greece and Cyprus and our customers like him very much and say that he is their favorite salesman. Uncle Pavlos also came, he is in charge of our other store, the online one, the e-shop so that those who are far away can see our products and order them. He asked me to tell you this story because he says he wants to "upload" it on our website.

When I ask my dad Kostas what job he wanted to do when he was a child, he always answers the same thing, MERCHANT… I didn't understand why he likes to be a merchant so much, since he works all day, under pressure to get the threads out, to fulfill the orders, to facilitate our customer’s needs. I didn't understand why he liked this job, until one day my dad took me to our production unit. Stavros showed me how to load the machine and how to adjust its spindles to get the thread out. And I loaded it, I passed the raw material through the head of the needle, a thing without form but with nice color. I pressed the button and she came to life and started making a lot of noise. I watched the needles go up and down and the spindles swayed back and forth like crazy. Stavros showed me the big bucket that the finished thread was falling into. This was the first thread of my own (!) production. Then I had to collect it in spools. Linda, who has been working with us for 25 years, showed me how to collect the thread on the spools and that day I collected all of Mr. George's order. I put them in the box together with the invoice that I printed (!) and glued the paper with the address of Mr. George's shop on the outside. I filled a few more spools for the shelves in our store. The next day I went to the store very early in the morning, because it was Saturday and I didn't have school. I placed the spools I had collected the day before on the shelves. At that time, an elderly customer came into the store, Mrs. Voula and my mom told me to help her because I could do it since I grew up in this store. I was shy, but I approached Mrs. Voula and in a very quiet voice, perhaps too quiet since she did not hear me at first, I asked her: "How can I help you?" She looked at me and asked me who I was. "George Anthopoulos", I replied. She caressed my head and said, "You have your grandfather's name. I was still a kid when I used to come with my grandmother and we would buy yarn from your shop, from your grandfather and then from your dad. Do you see this outfit I'm wearing? I knitted it with your silk thread AURA almost 20 years ago and it is still like new. For us, the old knitters, your name, ANTHOPOULOS - ERIAL, means the BEST." Those two days were tiresome, loading the machine, collecting the spools, filling up the shelves, helping Mrs Voula... and suddenly...  her words seemed to be magical, they took away my tiredness, and then I understood why my dad likes his job so much.

 

In the end, when I grow up I would very much like to be a worthy "ERIAList", as my cousin says, and after many years another Mrs. Voula will come - maybe your granddaughter - and tell my child a story like the one that was said to me by "my own" Mrs. Voula.

 

George Anthopoulos the grandson

 

Athens May 2020