1900 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL
NAPLES — There one day, gone the next.
The unexpected closing of a popular Naples shoe repair store has some customers wondering what will happen to their favorite pair of shoes.
Master Shoe Repair, 2012 U.S. 41 N., closed its doors Dec. 31. The store had been located at the Coastland Center mall for nearly 20 years, but Glen Harrell, the mall’s general manager, said the store owner decided not to renew his lease.
“Their lease was up and they left,” Harrell said. “I think they left their customers kind of surprised, but it wasn’t surprising for us.”
Luis Urbina, the store’s owner, said he made the decision to close the stores after 17 years because his rent was about to increase. Rent was $3,400 a month and the lease would have increased rent by more than $100, Urbina said in Spanish.
Naples resident Evelyn Digon dropped off a bag last week and was told it would be ready on Dec. 31.
She didn’t make it to the mall that day, but when she swung by to pick up her item Jan. 2, she was shocked to see the store was locked up and empty.
“I’ve never had an experience like this before,” she said. “You don’t expect something to be here today and gone tomorrow.”
Digon said she contacted mall management, and was told it wasn’t the responsibility to police businesses.
Harrell said he didn’t know whether customers were informed of the decision to close.
“It’s not the business I’m in,” Harrell said.
Customers weren’t alerted to the store closing, Urbina said, because he had been trying to negotiate a new rental agreement with mall officials
Digon said Wednesday afternoon she was considering filing a police report about her missing items.
Customers shouldn’t be worried about getting their stuff back, though. Store officials said they’ve been calling customers and delivering their repaired belongings — including shoes and purses — to customers since Sunday.
Marco Island resident Mathalda Carchietta was one of those customers who received a phone call telling her where her stuff was.
Carchietta and her husband swung by the mall Monday to pick up a pair of shoes but were surprised to see the shop had been closed. While she was initially concerned about her belongings, a voice mail on her home answering machine telling her that her shoes would be returned eased her concerns.
“Everything is fine,” she said. “I have no problem. He was a very nice shoemaker to begin with.”
This may not be the last residents hear of Master Shoe Repair as Urbina said he hopes to reopen his store at a new location.
That’s good news to Carchietta’s ears, who said Tuesday she hopes Urbina decides to relocate.
“I wish they would (reopen),” she said. “He was a nice shoemaker. I have nothing bad to say about him.”
Staff writer Tracy X. Miguel contributed to this report.
Connect with Naples reporter Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster at www.naplesnews.com/staff/jenna-buzzacco