Uncertain future for iconic Corner Store — West Palm Beach landmark suddenly closes after being sold
FOR OVER 35 YEARS, the iconic circular-shaped Corner Store at Southern Boulevard and South Olive Avenue in West Palm Beach has been a popular gathering spot for fishing enthusiasts and craft beer connoisseurs.
But now, Berto’s Bait & Tackle, as the store is also known, faces an uncertain future after it was sold and suddenly shuttered a few days ago.
Terms of the sale have not been disclosed, but the transaction was confirmed in an Instagram post by Daniel Ekerold, a real estate broker with Premier Estate Properties in Palm Beach, who is representing the buyer and seller.
“JUST SOLD - 250 Southern Blvd. Pleased to represent the buyer and seller of the iconic Bait & Tackle Shop on the corner of Southern Blvd and Olive Ave.,’’ according to a post three days ago on Ekerold’s Instagram feed.
Reached Nov. 24, Ekerold would not disclose the buyer or the sale price but said it was an off-market sale, meaning the property was not listed the Multiple Listing Service database.
A relative of Robert Lamelas, the store’s longtime owner, said the family could not comment until after the Thanksgiving holiday.
"They ran it for a very long time,'' Ekerold said. "He's probably just ready for the next chapter of his life.''
A “Sorry We Are Closed” sign hangs next to the store’s shuttered entrance. The wooden Indian and cowboy statutes that stood by the entrance are nowhere to be seen.
Just two blocks from the Intracoastal Waterway, The Corner Store won a loyal following with locals over the decades because of its attentive staff, Old Florida charm, array of bait and tackle supplies and selection of more than 600 beers.
It was also a hang-out spot for fishermen and locals. Ekerold said he'd heard The Corner Store had been considered for a reality television show not long ago.
Many longtime customers, who learned about the sale on the Next Door website,
fear the store may be closed for good. But Ekerold’s social media post offered a glimmer of hope.
“The new owners are still deciding what to do with space. Potentially looking for a tenant but open to maintaining the bait and tackle for a while,’’ he wrote in response to a comment under an aerial photo of the shop.
In an interview, Ekerold said he doesn't know what the new owners will do with the building. "I don't even think they know,'' he said.
"What I’d like to see is perhaps the new owners keep some of that history. If it becomes a restaurant you kind of put it in the menu or something like that because it’s got a really cool history,'' Ekerold said.
The sale is so new that records of the transaction have not appeared yet in public records. The shop’s website and Facebook page make no mention of the sale and offer no indication that the shop has been shuttered.
The store’s website still lists the usual business hours beneath a banner, “Since 1974 locally owned and operated.’’
A headline on the webpage sums up The Corner Store's appeal: "The Corner Store Bait and Tackle – God, Family & Country…the Corner Store an American Classic right here in West Palm Beach, Florida!"
Lynette Cormier said she’s crossing her fingers that the new owner’s open the store again without changing its charm, which she said reminds her of a trading post her uncle ran in rural Michigan.
“I have since traveled the world, but had never seen another store like Uncle Roy’s until Berto’s Corner Store,’’ she said in an email.
“My husband always went there for his fishing things. So Old Florida, and so special. Shops like that disappear and it makes me sad. It had such character and personality. So wonderful to go into a shop where they know your name and what you like. Also, my husband is a blind Veteran, and they were always so kind. They had us practice casting in the parking lot with a new rig.’’
This story was updated at 10:45 a.m. on Nov. 24, 2021. This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.
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