The machinery ripping down buildings on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno this week is making way for what will become a Hobby Lobby store.
The work also marks the destruction of the scene of a crime that left an 85-year-old shoe repairman dead.
Hobby Lobby plans to build anew north of the Goodwill store between Sierra and Herndon avenues. The craft and home decor store is scheduled to open early next year.
The former Fashion Furniture Outlet Showroom building was ripped down to its bones earlier this week, with an excavator dumping the remains in the back of a truck.
Another building closer to Blackstone has already been torn down. That building was home to Fresno Firearms, Georgio’s and Son/Sierra Shoe Repair and several other small businesses.
Shoe repair shop owner George “Georgio” Sheklian was bringing the gun shop owner coffee in December, as he did every morning, when robbers shoved him to the ground as they were robbing the gun store. He hit his head on pavement and died five days later.
Two guns stolen in the robbery have been recovered, but no one has been arrested.
Fresno Firearms has since moved a few blocks south to 6121 N. Blackstone Ave.
The shoe repair shop, now going by the name Sierra Shoe Repair, is in the same center, now in front of Dollar General at 6451 N. Blackstone Ave.
Sheklian’s son, Georgio Sheklian, is a one-man show running the business.
“I’m really feeling my dad’s loss,” he said, adding that he’s busy repairing shoes, but also making shoes and leather wallets and belts for a wholesale customer.
The younger Sheklian grew up in the business, working and learning from his father for hours after school each day. He spent years in Europe as a musician before returning to work with his father four or five years ago “and just fell in love with it all over again,” he said.
The demolition of the building where his father was knocked down can’t bring him back, but it does give a sense of moving forward, the son said.
“God’s trying to make way for the next chapter in my life,” he said.