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Monday, August 22, 2005

Downtown businesses to depart

From the Bedford Times Register
Downtown businesses to depart

by Emily Canning-Dean

Bedford Times Register Reporter

Bedford - As this year comes to a close, so will two fixtures in downtown Bedford. Nienal Shoes, 670 Broadway Ave., and Romito’s Smoke Shop, 703 Broadway Ave., both plan to close their doors by December.

Bernard Nienal, 92, has been in semiretirement for several years, but he and his daughter, Diane, both are ready to fully retire. They plan on closing in December.

Nienal said he and his wife, Mary, opened the store in downtown Bedford 55 years ago.

“Mary went door to door telling our neighbors about the business,” he said. “She made friends with a lot of customers. I had worked in shoe stores since I was 14, and my mother got me a job at one.”

Frank Romito said he will close shop Dec. 3 or 10. He said he started working at Romito’s Smoke Shop for his father, Constantino, when he was young.

“My father opened the shop in 1919,” Romito said.

Romito, a Walton Hills resident, said larger superstores have meant less business for his small downtown Bedford shop he said he also is ready to retire.

“I think we’re affected by all the mini-marts surrounding the area, too,” he said. “People go there now for their snacks and cigarettes.”

Nienal said he agrees that business customs have changed.

“We would always help the customer with fitting shoes,” he said. “Now at shoe stores the salespeople just hand the customer the shoes and have them try them on themselves.”

Diane Nienal said her parents had personal relationships with their customers.

“Before a lot of people had credit cards, they could set up personal accounts in the store where they could get their shoes right away and make payments on them when they could,” she said.

Romito said he also had a lot of regular customers.

“I’ll definitely miss them,” he said. “A lot of them still come in here.”

Diane said she and her father plan to sell the space their business is in, but Romito said he might hold onto his building after he closes up shop.

“I might sell it for the right price,” he said. “If not I’ll lease it to another business.”

Economic Development Director Rebecca Kwiatkowski-Corrigan said the city is looking for other businesses to move into the buildings.

“We’ve had a few people who are interested in Romito’s space, but nothing is definite yet,” she said.


Phone: 440-232-4055 ext. 4110


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