Family-run Mile End clothing store to close after 57 years
Published Saturday, March 12, 2016 4:08PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, March 12, 2016 6:52PM EST
A Mile End clothing store that's been a fixture at the busy corner of Parc Ave. and St-Viateur St. for more than half a century is closing its doors.
And the elderly couple who own Mercerie Italienne at the have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love they've been shown.
Benedetta Lapenta opened the store in 1959 and ran it by herself for the first 15 years.
“I like to do that, you know? I like with the people, you know? I love the people,” she said.
Benedetta's husband Antonio worked construction initially, but 42 years ago, stop his working as a cabinetmaker and joined his wife behind the counter.
“That's really my partner,” he said.
The couple came to Canada from Italy in the 1950s, raising their children while living and working side by side.
They swear they’ve never argued in all that time together.
“We never make a fight. We never make it hard, you know? You say, we want to go to a restaurant? We go. You want to get a coffee? We take a coffee. But we never argue together. Never, never for 57 years,” he said.
Their children also worked in the store over the years.
“When I was little, I always wanted to come to the store with them. And as I got older, I quit my job and I started working here with my parents,” said daughter Rosanna Lapenta.
Time has caught up to the couple. Antonio is now 81 and Benedetta, who has some health issues, is 78. They have decided to move on.
“I’m overwhelmed, sad. My mom's not doing so good and for my dad, it's peace of mind for him. I get emotional,” said Rosanna.
Last weekend, people in the neighborhood placed yellow notices in their window to let the Lapentas know how much they'll be missed.
“I was crying, crying,” said Benedetta, at the notes of appreciation.
“We're just like overwhelmed with the neighbours, with the clients, with like just with the outpouring, you know? They just come, they come say hi to my mom, my dad. Like - we have no words. Honestly, we have no words,” said Rosanna.
When they close up shop later this month, Antonio said he knows it will be tough.
“I'm sure it's going to be emotional, yeah,” he said.
They'll miss the neighborhood – and the neighborhood will miss them.