After 94 years in business, the landlord owning the ground floor of the Empire State Building is giving the shoe repairers the boot. Beatrice Barbieri, 82 years old, has run the shop by herself since her husband died in 2004. The Barbieris were the fourth owner of Louis Shoe Rebuilders when they bought the business in 1992. Since then their rent has trippled from $3,000 to $9,000 a month at the same time as the shoe-repair business declines in demand.
Since its begining in 1921, Louis Shoe Rebuilders has stood the test of time. Even the cash register and machinery are the same. The shop was originally where the sky scraper now stands, and when developers made plans to build the Empire State Building at the site, in the 1920s, the owners of Louis’ at the time relocated and then moved into the ground floor of the tower.
“It’s terribly disrespectful,” Barbieri said, explaining that the realty group had driven out store owners on the first floor because it is planning to build a series of new shops.
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