Tony Shoes in Westmount prepares to close after 83 years, but owners say it's a happy occasion
MONTREAL -- Westmount’s love for Tony Shoes goes back years, even generations.
On Thursday, it was enough to wrap a lineup around the block as people waited to get in for one of the last times after the shoe shop announcing it’s closing this summer.
It’s not because of COVID-19, the owners say—it’s a good thing, simply a decision to retire.
But that didn’t stop them from getting as nostalgic as their customers.
"My family has shopped at Tony Shoes for four generations,” said one shopper on Thursday. “My grandmother, my mother, myself and my nieces and nephews. And it's a tradition on this street.”
Tony Fargnoli, who inherited the shop from his father—who inherited it from his father—remembered one of their most famous customers coming in with a very specific request.
"Guy Lapointe, I remember, was breaking out all over his skin from the glue in his skates, he was so allergic,” said Fargnoli.
“We removed all the glue in his skates, opened up the whole skate, removed all the glue and put it back without any glue. Stitched it all back inside.”
The shop opened in 1937 with Tony’s grandfather and grandmother, Giantonio and Maria Fargnoli, working together to make and repair shoes.
Since then, it’s evolved more towards retail, but customers say their loyalty remains because of the attention to quality—as well as the customer service.
“They sell good-quality shoes and they're very kind to everyone, very respectful and it touches my heart,” said another longtime client.
But the kind of dedication it takes to run such a successful small business also takes a toll, which is why the Fargnolis say the announcement is more of a celebration than a tragedy.
“I missed my kids growing up,” said Fargnoli, “because that's what happens in business when you devote yourself like that. And I have grandkids now and I want to spend more time with them.”
Though the announcement caused a splash, the family business will continue through the end of this summer, he said.