Donovan Badillo is closing down his StitchPunxx Tailoring business on Wells Street in Fort Wayne as he prepares to relocate across the street into G.I. Joe’s Army Surplus.
“It’s kind of a sad day coming up,” said Badillo, who opened StitchPunxx at 1627 N. Wells St. six years ago. He and his wife lived in an apartment above the business with Badillo doing sewing work for G.I. Joe’s and other customers in the street-level retail space.
However, after 15 years of tailoring, making cos-play costumes, wedding dresses and the like as well as doing alterations and sewing on the patches for G.I. Joe’s public safety uniforms customers, Badillo’s hands were starting to hurt.
“His hands were really getting overworked and tired, and he wasn’t sure how much longer he was going to be able to keep sewing,” said Shawna Nicelley, who owns G.I. Joe’s and its building at 1638 N. Wells St., and the building that StitchPunxx was renting space in. “So I offered him the opportunity to come over here, and he could do the tailoring, and work on the floor selling.”
It’s a win-win. “He’s a very personable person; he was looking forward to working with people again,” she said. “...This way he maybe only has to do a few hours of sewing a week and the rest of his time he can be on the floor working retail.”
Nicelley bought the building across from G.I. Joe’s, currently listed as 1,579 square feet with three storage units in a 1,000-square-foot outbuilding in the rear for $175,000, so she and others at G.I. Joe’s “didn’t have to look out the window and see how homely it was.” They fixed it up, but decided now was the right time to sell.
“We had just made such a huge investment in our much larger building down the street,” Nicelley said, referring to the century-old property at 1434 N. Wells St. that once housed Linda Lou’s used-furniture shop. After Linda Lou’s closed, Nicelley undertook the large rehab project, spending $96,000 alone on the facade work, with help from a $40,000 facade grant from the city of Fort Wayne. The building is now home to two businesses new to the Wells Street Corridor: Honey Plant and Lofthouse.
“That property where Donovan is, you know, landlocked between two houses, and the rest of our properties are on corners with multiple units in them,” Nicelley said. “It just kind of felt like, get rid of that small one and keep doing what we’ve been doing with these much larger units.”
Badillo plans to move over next week and has the “Closed” sign out during the transition.
“I’m trying to deter people. I mean if they really need something done I’ll be more than happy to take care of it, but right not I’m trying to slow traffic down a little bit because I have so much to get done before I get moved just so I don’t have to take it across the street with me,” he said.
Badillo plans to do some extra work on the side, which has Nicelley’s OK, but the new space will be smaller, so he won’t be doing all the work he once did.
“I probably won’t be doing wedding dresses anymore. I won’t have room to do them.”
In the past 1½ months, Badillo estimated he’d made a half-dozen wedding dresses.
He also plans to work by appointment only for a while.
He and his wife now will live in one of downtown Fort Wayne’s new apartment buildings.