In a time when we can't all gather around a table, we can still come together as a community. We're Open Indy is a partnership between WRTV and our local restaurants and businesses with one goal: getting them through this tough time. Every day, we will help shine a light on the businesses that make up our community by telling their stories and rallying around those who are keeping the grills going, the hospitals running, and the businesses operating.
INDIANAPOLIS — It's been a staple downtown for decades and a shoe repair shop is still open, trying to find ways to keep turning a profit through this novel coronavirus pandemic.
All along Meridian Street you will find businesses that are closed and doors that are locked but at Cento Shoes you will see a flashing open sign in the window as they find ways to still provide their service while keeping people safe.
Inside the small shop, you won't find any customers. Instead you'll see a lot of shoes that need some work and a local man determined to stay in business.
"Anyone who knows me knows the shop is everything to me," Tony Cento, owner of Cento Shoes, said.
Every day, Cento comes in and hits the phone calling customers to check in and offer contact-free repairs.
"It is all what you put in it and you just have to be smart and be safe but keep reaching out to people," Cento said. "They leave the shoes at the front door and then I pretty much go pick them up with no contact and it's slowly starting to work."
Payment is done over the phone. When the shoes are ready, Cento returns them right back to the customer's front porch.
"I have probably had 40 or 45 people in the last three weeks use it but they are not just giving me a pair of shoes," Cento said. "They are looking at it as, 'I am at home I know what you're trying to do you are trying to raise revenue you need business so they are saying here is five pair.'"
Cento is looking into the small business loans now available under the CARES Act but he's hoping to make it through the old fashioned way, connecting with customers and working hard.
"It's everything. My dad came from Italy and started this and he worked so hard and next year will be 50 years and I honestly think I will be stronger when we get to the other side," Cento said.
Cento said he hopes to keep offering delivery service even after businesses reopen.