Willie’s Shoe Shine in Ocean Beach Has to Either Be Sold or Moved Now – And Why

by on November 21, 2016 · 24 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach

ob-willie-shoeshine-kh

Willie’s Shoe Shine building, with Willie speaking to an unidentified woman with her dog. Photo from K. Hastings facebook post.

Willie’s Shoe Shine building along Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach has been forced out of its location by the new landlord. He must either sell the building or have it moved by this Wednesday, November 23rd – the day before Thanksgiving. Reportedly, he wants to sell it for $1,000. (As to why he has to move, see below for some background.)

Willie – the only African-American businessperson on Newport – has been doing business on OB’s main commercial street for nearly 50 years – first as an employee of a shoe repair shop on Newport and then later as the proprietor of his own “shop” at the corner of Newport and Cable.

Everybody knows Willie. And so, OB’s social media blew up this weekend with news that he was being forced out.

Many saw this coming. As the OB Rag reported last August:

Willie’s store has been pushed back – more into the interior of the parking lot. And new asphalt has been poured in the immediate site.

Not only was Willie’s building moved, but the OB Town Council’s bulletin board and the palm trees at the corner were all taken out. And according to our sources within the OBTC, the bulletin board was removed without their knowledge. (More on that later …)

But back to our current situation. On one of OB’s facebooks, it was announced Saturday morning that Willie’s building is being forced off the property, and that he must sell it and it must be gone by Wednesday. People are being asked to contact Willie while he is out there (where does he go in the rain?), and that he’s usually there Monday – Wednesday 9:00 am – 5:00pm.

All weekend commenters offered their condolences, their love, and their offers of assistance. OB resident Kevin Hastings – who helps head up OB’s anti-graffiti work – then took it upon himself to organize the offers. Here’s what Hastings wrote:

This is a new post on Willie’s Shoe Shine, with the specific purpose of getting his shed purchased and/or stored within the next few days. I went through the other threads and compiled everyone on here who expressed interest: [Kevin listed several potential purchasers].

Offered temporary storage only [Kevin listed nearly half dozen offers]:

And one, perhaps two people with a trailer have offered to help transport. If you are serious about purchasing, that’s the best start. Willie was hoping for $1000. Or fight over, it that’s fine too. If anyone listed, or anyone else is serious, please arrange purchase with Willie directly in person at his shop this Monday or Tuesday, or Wednesday if it takes that long.

The shed measures about 8’4″ by 8’8″  with small overhang all around. It was built in about 1996, has nice windows and roof, is wired for electrical, and is on a raised wood frame. It’s on wheels but they are just small rubber wheels for pushing it around. It is not on a trailer frame or anything. you should have a flat space cleared in your yard prepared for it, (preferably with gravel for drainage, and weed-blocker laid down).

To be clear I am not personally in charge of selling it, I’m just trying to help ensure it happens so that Willie doesn’t get into a tight spot when his deadline comes and it’s removed by force or something. I believe his deadline is Wednesday. And if nobody can commit to buying it by then, we have some willing to store it to buy some time.

Also as a personal request, I’d hope that anyone who purchases it is willing to preserve it for a month at least in the event that by some miracle Willie is able to find a place for it and meet the city requirements somehow. Willie seems content on the changes forced on him, but it would be cool if we helped him keep his options open.

Thank you, Kevin Hastings.

Back to some of the background.

In or around 1996, Willie’s building was burnt down, reportedly by a transient, but Ocean Beach responded, and people bought and built him a brand new one. He’s used it ever since.

As to why Willie has to completely move, this is what we reported in August:

Apparently, a new renter has taken over the parking lot area. The new leasee wanted the changes and went right to work, altering a small corner that had been dedicated to the community by the Town Council. All of it is now gone.

And who is this new leasee?

Ronnie Shamoun

Ronnie Shamoun

It turns out it’s Ronson “Ronnie” Shamoun, the wealthy tax attorney, who owns a number of businesses around Ocean Beach. He and his family own the OB Quick Stop on Voltaire Street, the Newport Quick Stop, the property where O’Bistro’s was and where a new cowboy sports bar is supposed to be going in.

Shamoun and company also own the property where the proposed 7-Eleven is going to be – across from Olive Tree. (Shamoun was once on the OB Planning Board.)

And now he has sub-leased the property where Willie’s Shoeshine is and made the changes, without notifying the OBTC. …

Mallories also used to let OBMA use the parking lot for free for the farmers market (for vendors). Now, Shamoun will be charging OBMA for the booth spaces.

Reportedly, Shamoun plans on putting a coffee cart in the corner parking lot, like the one over on Voltaire on the property of the OB Quick Stop. Already eyebrows are being raised. Is it legal to have a drive-through right off a main street? some local business owners are asking.

So, that’s why Willie’s Shoe Shine company must fold.

Way back in 1970 and early ’71, I used to hawk the original paper-version of the OB Rag – the underground newspaper for the community. And I would stand at the corner of Bacon and Newport and ask passersby or drivers for a quarter donation. I sold quite a lot.

And Willie – who worked in the local shoe repair shop up the block – would always walk down and flip me a quarter for a copy.  Without a comment, he would start reading it as he strolled back to work. This was in 1970.

Now because of changes coming on Newport – and around OB – Willie has to go.

If you can offer any assistance, please contact Kevin Hastings – or contact us via our email and we’ll connect with him. obragblog@gmail.com

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

PL Local November 21, 2016 at 10:30 am

Jesus. What a dick! Can’t even wait till after the holiday or even till the end of the month.

I love Willie. He is one of the nicest guys around. And I hate what is happening to him.

About a decade ago (yeah that long ago), I was trying to get some Nico’s, but there is never any parking on Newport, so I asked Willie if I could park in his lot for a few mins. He was so nice about it.

Now over the past month or 2, I have tried to park in the same lot, just for 5mins max., but there are signs and cameras monitoring the parking lot. And if you park there, not for the quick-n-stop, they will ticket you.

The new owner is a flat out dick who doesn’t care about OB.

I hope everyone goes to the coffee shop in the old Apple Tree parking lot or they go to The Surf Check. Don’t support this dick.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie November 21, 2016 at 10:49 am

Right? The day before Thanksgiving! Sometimes, the only thing people understand are challenges to their bottom line. If Shamoun had to worry about his, perhaps he would relent. Nah, too late for that. Or is it?

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kevin hastings November 21, 2016 at 10:50 am

For the record, it’s unclear (to me at least) the exact chain of events of how the changes at the lot led to Willie’s unpermitted shop getting reported to the city. Some claim to know it’s nefarious, but it could also be an unfortunate or unintended consequence of the site improvements. I’m sure that info will all come out in due time.

Willie says he will still be in operation for the time being, but basically off the sidewalk, and without his shed/storefront.

Also, please correct the article, his shed actually measures about 8’2″ by 8’6″ at the base. This is significant because it won’t fit on most trailers. A flatbed towtruck with a winch is probably the best way to transport it…. we are still looking for one for free/discount if possible, or will pay for one if needed.

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kevin hastings November 21, 2016 at 11:09 am

Update, it measures 8’4″ by 8’8″.

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Steve A. November 21, 2016 at 11:38 am

Time to boycott Ronnie and his family’s businesses in OB. Just another selfish, greedy businessman ruining the town. Stop making him richer and shop somewhere else, there are plenty of other businesses in town that provide the exact same things his businesses offer.

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OB-itch November 21, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Can someone form a list of Ronnie and his families business so we can all boycott this greedy soulless person!

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molly molly November 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm

List of Shamoun businesses in OB:

Voltaire – OB Quik Mart
Future cowboy bar
quik type store on Newport

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Steve A. November 22, 2016 at 4:18 pm

I know him and his brother Frank also run the Subway on Cable. I remember a few years ago, they would recycle old Subway bread and meat and resell them at the Newport Quik Stop as 99 cent Torpedo sandwiches.

I believe the drive-thru coffee shop on Voltaire, Cafe Bella is also owned by Ronnie and company.

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Eva November 21, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Well, boycott comes to mind. No way I’ll grace the businesses of this schmo Shamoun with my shopping dollars.

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Dr. Jack Hammer November 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm

A cowboy bar, sweet. Cause OB is full of cowboys. More East County turds coming to get drunk and soil our town. Boycott for sure.

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triggerfinger November 21, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Nah, cowboy bars now are for hipsters and millennials and tourists that like to vomit on the sidewalk and sideswipe your car while driving drunk back home out of OB.

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embo November 21, 2016 at 7:08 pm

I’ve never liked or frequented his two stores, they have always seemed so sleazy. Doubt I’ll be going to the Sporting Cowboy for suds either. God he likes like a douchebag.

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embo November 21, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Fix your spelling idiot!

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embo November 21, 2016 at 7:09 pm

I’ve never liked or frequented his two stores, they have always seemed so sleazy. Doubt I’ll be going to the Sporting Cowboy for suds either. God he looks like a douchebag.

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Liveinob November 21, 2016 at 9:40 pm

He’s also a lawyer we should never call for business
He is a Dick!
He also owns the property where the dry cleaner is, for now…
He doesn’t even live here !!!
Find a different neighborhood to ruin. You’re now wanted here anymore

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Really? November 22, 2016 at 1:13 pm

I went into the OB quick mart a couple years ago for a few gatorades and snacks for my nephews and all I had was my ATM (debit) card. The crossed-eyed guy behind the counter tried to charge me 25¢ per item for the “service charge” of using my debit. Or pay a flat $3.00 charge for using the debit card. I asked him why and he said that’s what it is. I walked out and left all my stuff on the counter and have not been back since. As I was shopping I over heard the doosh talking about where he was going to put the new elevator in his house and how much money he has. I started my boycott on that store a few years ago now I will do the same to the rest of his businesses…

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kevin hastings November 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm

You guys should ease up on the Shamouns. I’m seeing a lot of gossip being reported as fact, without any backup. If nothing else, do so because Willie still wants to operate there, and the last thing he needs is a lynch mob against his landlord.

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Dave November 22, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Cross-posting from another article, but fact is that I was a loyal customer of Ronnie’s brother Bobby (who runs the Voltaire Quik Stop/OB Deli, formerly Subway) for 10 years. After he got in an argument with an employee of mine over whether he could leave bacon off an advertised sandwich (my worker is Muslim), I haven’t darkened the door of any of his businesses, and won’t for that reason as well as the O’Bistro, even though I do hope the family makes things right by Willie.

I’ve got a truck that will pull the shoe shine shack and a lot to store it on in East County, but from what I understand those things are taken care of and an appropriate trailer (which I don’t have) is the biggest remaining issue.

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kevin hastings November 23, 2016 at 12:56 am

Also keep in mind the roof of the shed exceeds DOT width. So moving it far or on the highway without an oversize permit could mean a fat ticket. It did stand up to 60mph winds though last winter.

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Mick Burdge November 23, 2016 at 1:11 am

I went to school with good old Ronson Shamoun. That guy got beaten up more than anyone in Middle School and high school. He was an annoying loser who was hated then and is apparently still hated today. He must love feeling big and tough by forcing a 78 year old OB legend and war veteran off of his property.

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Mick Burdge November 23, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Is there going to be an organized protest? If so let’s get the info out and organize! I am pissed!!!

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Questioning... November 24, 2016 at 11:45 am

Can someone verify that it is Shamoun that is forcing the issue? Other reports indicate that the action is being taken by the city code enforcement dept. because the shack is not permitted, and that Shamoun will face fines by the city if the shack is not removed. If someone can double check the facts and tell us which is correct, then we can direct our attention to the source of the problem. Thanks!

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Richard Meyer April 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm

no one finds Ocean Beach ,, Ocean Beach finds you and then lets you in, Its the only place i really call home and im from Chicago. U S out of OB

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Brad Fernbaugh June 18, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Does anyone know how Willie is doing? My wife and I went to see him where he was convalescing 7 months back but have not heard anything about his condition since then. If you read this please join us in sending him good thoughts and love for a speedy recovery and comfort.

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