Center City shoe repair shop reeling from COVID-19 impact, looters

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Guaricela's Shoe Repair shop at 15th and Spruce streets in Center City Philadelphia was not spared by looters out to destroy property after peaceful protests on May 30.

The door was broken in and molotov cocktails were thrown into the small shop as Luis Guaricela watched his surveillance feed from home.

"I was terrified because on the top of the building, there are a lot of sleeping people. So, I said to my daughter, 'Call the police, call the fire department,'" said Guarciela.

Guaricela immigrated from Ecuador 35 years ago and opened his shoe repair and key cutting business with his wife Maria back in 2000.

The shop, once a welcome place for customers packed with merchandise, is now gutted.

"When the pandemic came, I had to close. I didn't have two months of income. After these riots, they destroyed my store," said Guaricela.

He lost thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. While he has business insurance, Guaricela said it wouldn't cover incidents caused by a third party.

"I think that's unfair because my parents pay insurance," said Jessica Guaricela, Luis' daughter.

So, Jessica created a donation page which has already gained more than $9,000 from 185 donors.

"Everyone is helping me to reopen, to rebuild this business because I want to keep working," said Guaricela.

"Thank you to everyone, God bless you," said Maria Guaricela.

The community support is proof that this family, this shop, won't be beaten by a pandemic, or looters. Instead, uplifted by the people they serve.
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.