Sneaker Town USA re-opens in Coney Island a year after Sandy

Muddy shoes — superstorm trashed 1,000 sneakers

Brooklyn Daily
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

A People’s Playground footwear mainstay has finally pulled free from Sandy’s mud — and revealed a great new design.

One year after the superstorm shut it down, Mermaid Avenue running-shoe depot Sneaker Town USA held its grand re-opening on Nov. 2, showing off a sleek, modernistic new take on its 40-year-old space.

“We gave it a totally new look,” said president and chief executive officer Walter Gauto. “We lost everything, so we thought, ‘why not bring it back with a little Coney Island excitement?’ ”

Gauto and his uncle — store founder Walter Chabel, known locally for four decades as “Mister Sandy” — replaced the 20-year-old white paneling and tables with a maze-like pattern of shelves, holding up an all-new inventory of shoes and related apparel.

Gauto said the shop lost more than 1,000 shoes — plus sweatpants, tracksuits, and socks — after getting swamped in five feet of water during the superstorm that struck just over a year ago.

The store had hurricane insurance, but the National Weather Service downgraded Sandy to a superstorm shortly before it made landfall — leaving Sneaker Town up the Coney Island Creek. But help from friends, neighbors, and the city allowed Gauto and his uncle to gut their store and treat the space for mold.

The store re-opened partially a month later to sell off its salvageable sneakers — though with a damaged and desolate-looking interior.

“We had no other choice really. We had to keep on working,” said Gauto. “The look was not appealing at all. It looked like a big empty warehouse.”

But the renovated store hit the ground running on Nov. 2, and quickly filled up with its old customers and employees.

“We had a lot of our regulars in over the weekend,” said Gauto. “It’s a good start.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: