As a lifelong entrepreneur who ran his own building contracting business, Asher encouraged his children to start their own companies, which led to the founding of the Sportie LA in 1985. During the early years, while Isack and sister Orna Amzaleg were pursuing their educations and traveling, Asher assisted in running the store, ordering inventory and managing employees.
“If it weren’t for him, we never would have opened Sportie LA,” Isack said. “It was so empowering to have a father who always made us feel like every step we took was always the right one, and we were in control.”
In more recent years, Asher was no longer involved in the day-to-day operations, but frequently attended industry functions and conferences, as well as parties at the store. He also continued to offer his business advice. “He was always looking over our shoulders and making sure we didn’t bite off more than we could chew,” Isack said. “He was the quintessential father in that way.”
Amzaleg recalled the repartee Asher developed with shoppers. “My dad loved to have fun with our customers,” she said. “Whenever a customer asked if he could get a discount, my dad would say, ‘No problem — buy the right shoe and get the left shoe free.’ He had many of these quips that everyone loved.”
Some of those customers went on to become famous but still enjoyed their encounters with Asher. “One of my dad’s favorite customers was Usher,” said Rozet Shabtai, Asher’s daughter. “He watched Usher grow up. One thing he never stopped teasing him about was how Usher stole his name, simply changing the ‘A’ to a ‘U.’ The banter between the two kept going for years.”
Many in the industry recalled Asher as a driving force behind Sportie LA’s success and a fixture at the store.
“Asher was a rock, a constant presence in Sportie LA,” said Jay Piccola, president and GM of Puma North America. “Puma and Sportie LA have grown together and both of us have evolved as brands and as partners, but there was always one mainstay, and that was Asher’s influence and attention to the store and to his family.”
Pentland USA president Sonny Shar, too, heralded Asher’s accomplishments, both as a businessman and as a father. “He was a great dad who gave Isack stability and good counsel,” he said. “He was a warm, gentle human being.”
“Asher’s vision in building Sportie L.A. was really ahead of its time, breaking the mold on sports and fashion retail. [He was] a true leader in seeing the lifestyle side of sports footwear,” said David Nichols, global president of K-Swiss Inc. “His legacy will undoubtedly be remembered for a long time.”