VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Montagna’s Shoes has been a staple across Hampton Roads for decades and is just one of the many small businesses struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.
These days, more shoe boxes sit on the shelves at the store on Independence Boulevard in Virginia Beach.
“We’re just filled to the rim with inventory,” said Montagna’s Shoes Vice President Lucian Montagna III. “Because of the slow times right now, we haven’t been able to sell much.”
The specialty shoe store is considered essential because of its custom-made shoes and shoes for medical personnel. Montagna’s Shoes has kept its doors open even as the COVID crisis threatens to close them.
“It’s stressful,” Montagna III said. “I worry. It’s hard not to worry. I have friends who have shut their doors permanently. It’s scary.”
Montagna’s Shoes has faced uncertainty before. Store Owner Lucian Montagna Jr. said soon after opening in 1922, the family-owned business took a hit during the Great Depression.
The small business, however was determined to stay afloat.
“They went through tough times just like everybody else, but they weathered it,” said Montagna Jr. “They worked hard. They worked long hours and were determined to get through it.”
That mentality is what Montagna Jr. said is helping him through these hard times.
He was recently approved for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the first time he said he ever asked for help. Once the economy reopens, Montagna Jr. said he’ll be ready.
“I’m going to take it one day at a time,” he said. “It’s going to take a while. This is not going to be an easy fix. This is going to be a long haul.”
Just like their generation before them, the Montagnas remian hopeful.
“I would love for it to get busy again,” said Montagna Jr.
His son agreed.
“I count my blessings,” said Montagna III. “At least we have somewhat of a fighting chance. A lot of people didn’t get that.”