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On the eve of Hurricane Ian, Shanna Matyas and her family removed every watch and piece of jewelry from her Downtown Jewelry & Watch Co. store in Fort Myers. She did so out of security concerns with the potential for looting amid widespread power outages.  

She couldn’t have predicted what actually happened. About 5 to 6 feet of water flowed up to the front door and window just outside 2125 First St., Suite 101, seeping inside with about 6 feet of sludge and storm surge water.  

Seven months later, Matyas and her husband, Adam Matyas, are thankful for a quick rebuild. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the store for six months, and Hurricane Ian closed it for eight weeks.  

“The physical part of the rebuild, thank goodness I have an amazing husband and family and an amazing landlord,” Shanna Matyas said. “Because within the very next day, they were tearing out the drywall. And they were already planning with contractors the very next week on getting people in here as soon as that power came on.  

“The COVID pandemic definitely taught me some lessons as far as making sure you have enough funds for emergencies — six months to a year.”   

The road to recovery is ongoing, she said. Although she was able to restore the store in rapid fashion, the volume of customers took a hit from a slower tourist season.  

“One day, I go from feeling defeated,” Matyas said. “And the next day, I go to wearing a cape and feeling like a superhero. I think a lot of people in this town might understand that feeling. One day, it’s like, ‘Man, it’s never going to bounce back.’ And then the next day, you see your friends around are rebuilding, and you see the successes and all the charity events going on and all the nightly events going on.  

“We got this.”  

The shop specializes in vintage Rolexes, but also carries watches and jewelry of all varieties. Customers can buy, sell or trade, with watches ranging from $2,000 to $100,000.  

The store is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and by appointment only on Mondays. Matyas said she hopes people will return to marking the passage of time with timeless timepieces.  

“I’ve always had something for older things, whether it be clocks or timepieces or architecture,” said Matyas, who has a wooden wall clock from the 1740s hanging in the store. “I think that without those pieces, we can’t teach our future about where we’re from.”

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