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After six decades, Public Square shoe repair shop closes

After six decades, Public Square shoe repair shop closes

WATERTOWN — Over 61 years, Dino Arvan fixed thousands and thousands of pairs of shoes. On Thursday, he repaired his last, a pair of brown men’s shoes with laces that needed a heel repaired.He shuttered Dino’s Shoe Service, one of the oldest businesses along Public Square. Retirement has arrived at the age of 85.“I just have to wait for two customers to pick up their shoes,” he said Friday. “They’re done. They just got to call to pick them up.”While the shoe repair shop is disappearing from the downtown business landscape, he’s worked out a deal to sell the building and an adjacent structure to local developer Brian H. Murray. The deal should close in mid-February, Mr. Murray said.Not much has changed with repairing shoes in 61 years, Mr. Arvan said. And then again everything has changed, he went on to say.“You repair shoes,” he said, explaining what his career consisted of since he started working at his Uncle James Bizones’ business when he was still in his early 20s.His uncle initially operated the shoe repair shop in the Paddock Arcade. At some point, Mr. Arvan purchased half of the business from him and then the other half later on.The shoe repair shop moved to Public Square about 35 years ago. The shop, at the corner of Public Square and Franklin Street, looks much as it did when it moved. Some days were busier than others, Mr. Arvan recalled. But he had a lot of repeat customers. He made money.“It was a good business because I enjoyed being with people,” he said.But people stopped buying good shoes and started purchasing cheap ones that would fall apart and couldn’t be repaired, he said.“New shoes are not fixable,” he said.During the years, he watched Public Square change, from a bustling business district with lots of shoppers to a downtown dotted with empty storefronts and deteriorating buildings. Outer Arsenal Street became the place to shop, where big-box retailers, chain restaurants and the Salmon Run Mall opened, he said.And now enthusiasm has returned to downtown with a $10 million state grant through the city’s Downtown Revitalization program. The potential big changes for downtown won’t affect Mr. Arvan, he said.But Mr. Murray wants to be part of the downtown renaissance. The $10 million DRI grant has already spurred interest in downtown, he said. The two buildings he’s acquiring will fill a need. “With all the talk about downtown revitalization and possible changes coming to Public Square, we’ve seen a big jump in interest from businesses that want to locate downtown, and many of them want storefronts,” he said. “These acquisitions will help us to meet some of that demand.”The proposed deal with Mr. Arvan includes the Hubbard Building, 22-24 Public Square, and the Emerich Building, 18 Public Square. If the deal is culminated, he’ll add two three-story buildings with four storefronts and five abandoned apartments to his portfolio. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.Built in the 1860s, both buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places as contributing properties in the Public Square Historic District.Mr. Murray plans to restore both buildings and refurbish the five apartments as market rate units.“These are beautiful buildings that have a prominent location on the square,” he said.Among his many properties, Mr. Murray owns the nearby Commerce Building, where a restaurant will soon open in the former Subway shop, and a building with a series of storefronts along the first block of Franklin Street. He’s proposed major upgrades to that building, as well.He also co-owns the Lincoln Building with Purcell Construction on the other side of Public Square. He’s renovated the storefronts and has found tenants for each of them and has proposed restoring the upper floors for commercial space.While Mr. Murray is moving quickly on his plans, Mr. Arvan, a father of five, grandfather of 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, plans to relax with his wife, Ann, in their Alexandria Bay home on Dingman Point. They’ve been married for 55 years.“I’m going fishing,” he said. “I never had the time.”
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News
After six decades, Public Square shoe repair shop closes

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