By Giovanni Gray
“I want everybody happy sweetheart, I want everybody happy,” said Sophia Marmanidis from behind the counter at Sophia’s Alterations. “That’s how I like it.”
Marmanidis has been a constant figure in the ever-changing street front of Huntington Avenue as it runs through Mission Hill, having opened her alterations shop thirty years ago. A seventy-five-year-old Greek immigrant hailing from a wealthy family in Greek Macedonia, Marmanidis embodies the ethos of the ‘American Dream’.
She left her village of Loukas in 1965 with her husband to come to America to “build up,” leaving behind a comfortable life in Greece with the sole purpose of starting her life over in America.
While she spent her early years in America working in factories and hair salons, she always looked for ways to better herself through hard work. A proud woman, Marmanidis does not hide the fact that she left a comfortable life in Greece with the specific goal of coming to America with nothing and making a life for herself.
She found herself constantly passing by a condemned storefront on the corner of what is now Shepherd Avenue and Huntington Avenue. With an eagerness to create a living for herself and on her own accord, Marmanidis purchased the property from a relative without any specific business plan in mind.
“For me, I think God saved me here,” she said as she fondly recounted the beginnings of her store.
From her desk in the front of her shop, Marmanidis has had a front row seat to the evolution of Mission Hill over the last three decades. She describes the neighborhood as having improved greatly over the years, and compared it to a modern day Brookline.
For Marmanidis, life in America, a country she constantly declares her love for, has always been about two things: making a successful living for herself, and being a motherly figure for all those who come into her store. Marmanidis commonly greets her customers in her thick Greek accent with a big smile and an “I love you.”
A woman with an affinity for hard work, Marmanidis does not hide from the fact that she wants to live the rest of her life in her store.