NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After 94 years in business, a shoe repair shop in the Empire State Building is getting the boot and closing its doors for good after losing its lease.

Louis Shoe Rebuilders was established in 1921 and moved into the Empire State Building when the skyscraper opened its doors in 1931.

It has been there ever since, and shoemaker Julio Galvis said in all of these years, nothing has changed.

On the counter there’s a large stainless steel manual cash register and in the back are the manual machines to fix shoes and leather handbags.

“Everything is manual here,” Galvis said. “We try to repair the shoes and bags by hand.”But at the end of the month, it’ll all be a part of history when the store goes out of business.

The Empire State Building management refused to renew the store’s lease, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.

“I’m very sad because I’ve been here for almost 27 years,” said Galvis, who started making shoes from scratch when he was 11 years old in his native Colombia. “I have a good relationship with my customers. Everybody knows me and I know everybody, so it’s hard. But things change, we have to do it.”

But the small business can’t keep up with the rising rent, which has ranged from $5,000 a month to nearly $10,000 in the last 20 years, CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported.

“The rent in New York is too difficult now for a small business,” said Galvis.

Elliot has been a regular customer for decades. He feels sad for the workers but he understands it’s time.

“Wonderful man, great service, very pleasant to deal with. It just is what it is in New York where rents are up, getting higher everyday,” Elliot said. “I think this is just sort of what happens in New York.”

But another faithful customer, Mark, said he hopes the Empire State Building reconsiders.

“You need nostalgia also,” Mark said. “There’s old and there’s new, there’s room for everything.”

Customer Jamie Futterman said the news was devastating.

“My dad’s been coming here, my grandma. We all work across the street and we’ve been coming here forever,” Futterman said.

David Deming said old-time businesses really stand out in the hustle and bustle of the big city.

“The difference is the people. You know, the people have been here forever and that’s what makes it wonderful,” he said.

And it’s not just employees and customers who are sad to see the shop go. The group SaveNYC held a mock funeral at the store this week, complete with mourners and a eulogy.

The group tries to bring attention to small businesses that are going under, Hsu reported.

The store’s owner said she cannot afford to relocate so the store will close for good after its lease is up on June 30.


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