Beloved Toronto family clothing business is permanently closing after almost 50 years
A clothing store that's been in business for almost 50 years, run by one family with a powerful matriarch, is permanently closing.
Belo Fashions Boutique is closing up shop on Roncesvalles, ending a business with a history that stretches back to 1975.
Immigrant mother Maria Belo had five kids including daughters Susan and Linda Belo, who says she struggled with a "hard marriage." She didn't speak any English when she arrived in Canada, and sold clothes out of the back of a station wagon.
Eventually she opened Casa Belo Dry Goods in Kensington Market in 1975. In 1980, the business expanded and she bought a building at Bloor and Delaware for Belo Fashions, where she sold bridal and evening wear.
Around 2010, Maria Belo divorced and had to give it up, but was able to another building on Roncesvalles and kept the business going. Belo Fashions Boutique on Roncesvalles became known for specializing in prom dresses.
Linda Belo says they're simply in a "hard place as a small business" and are ready to call it a day. She gushes about what an inspiration her mother has been to her, and how strong she's been throughout many tough years.
Until they close, they're offering steep 90 per cent discounts on everything in the boutique, with dresses starting at $50. Linda Belo says people are already requesting private appointments to make purchases.
Belo says one person who's involved in charitable work even bought a whopping 137 dresses in bulk. Belo anticipates they'll also donate at least some of the remaining inventory to charity.
The Belo family will still own the building, but a new tenant will be moving in: Bagel Time. Belo says them paying rent will be "phenomenal" and that their new tenants have already been very helpful, giving them an extra month to move out.
The last day for Belo Fashions in the space will be June 30. Bagel Time should be opening in October.
Maria Belo is now 81, Linda is 50, and as for the future Linda says their plans are mainly to "enjoy weekends off together," which, as families that work in retail know, has probably been pretty rare for them.
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