Westboro cobbler closing shop

The man behind Westboro Shoe Rebuilders is mending his last sole in the neighbourhood this month after he said his landlord decided not to renew the lease.
Dang Nguyen is closing down his cobbler shop in Westboro after a decade in business. Hallie Cotnam/CBC

A Westboro cobbler is mending his last shoe in the neighbourhood this month after he said his landlord decided not to renew the lease.

Dang Nguyen and his shop Westboro Shoe Rebuilders have been in the neighbourhood for 10 years, first at a location on Richmond Road, and then when those rents spiked, on Roosevelt Avenue.

But at the end of February he got a letter telling him his lease was up at the end of May.

"They not renewing so I have to leave," said Dang. "They didn't say anything ... just not renewing. That's it. So I feel a bit strange. Not much I can do because I'm a small guy, I don't own the building."

Dang said he paid $1,150 a month for a 300-square-foot shop and added he does not know where else he would be able to find a comparable space for that price.

In response, some clients have begun dropping off five to six pairs of shoes, trying to get in under the wire before his shop closes.

Resident worries Westboro losing neighbourhood feel

Regular customer Anna Paquet said Dang would be missed. Paquet, a former Glebe resident who moved to Westboro six years ago, said she recognizes a pattern.

"You can get everything here. Much like the Glebe was, you can find a butcher here, you can find specality things and it is sad that a neighbourhood is changing that way," said Paquet.

"You are losing the specialty-type services that are hard to find. You probably have to go to a shopping centre so you'll lose that neighborhood feel,"

Dang, 52, said he is too young to retire but added he would take a few weeks to figure out what to do in what would be his first vacation in 10 years.

He also has three older children — two daughters, 20 and 18, and a son, 16 — so this could be a chance to get away.

"I feel a little bit strange because no job, nothing. But the money still have to go out so the thing is I have to prepare to look for a job," he said.

He also expects to be busy at home, since housework is hard when he regularly works 80 hours a week at the shop.

"I don't have any staff ... [so] no time to hang around," he said.