Steven Garcia owns Rio Rancho Shoe & Boot Repair. His father and aunt opened the shop in 1986; in 2007, Garcia took over the shop in Lujan Plaza. In January, he was injured in a 25-foot fall while hiking. Amy Byres photo.

The Rio Rancho community is rallying to support a local business owner who fell from a 25-foot cliff, breaking several bones.

“It’s been a rough year or so, since the epidemic started,” said Rio Rancho Shoe & Boot Repair owner Steven Garcia. “It’s really taken its toll on my businesses. Then, of course, this accident I just had. It’s really stopped business, too. As of right now, we are just getting work out that was already here.”

Rio Rancho Shoe & Boot Repair is a second-generation business that opened in 1986. Steven took over the shop from his father and an aunt in 2007.

Before the pandemic, Steven was between insurance plans, he said. With the hit the pandemic has had on the shop, he made tough choices.

“The shop was doing fine before the pandemic,” he said. “Then when the pandemic first started, I had to close down for about three months.”

Closing made health insurance unaffordable.

“When we were looking at different options for health insurance, the pandemic hit and I burned through my money and savings rather quickly to pay the bills and was unable to get health insurance at that time. Then the accident happened,” he said.

During a New Year’s Day hike, Steven slipped and fell more than two stories. He suffered 13 broken ribs, a sternal fracture, several fractured neck and back vertebrae, as well as puncturing a lung, which partially collapsed, said his wife, Shelly Garcia, in a GoFundMe post.

He is unable to work and is not allowed to lift over eight pounds.

“I really can’t do anything. Just getting up and driving down to the (shop), getting in and out of my truck, I can feel things popping and shifting,” Steven said.

He is eager to get back to work but won’t be able to for a few months.

With medical bills being inevitable, his wife asked for help.

“It is the hardest thing ever to ask for help. I fought against Steven on it, but I eventually understood we had to at least try,” her post reads. “This has been an extremely humbling experience.

“We have faith in God and I believe we are in His hands. I am just now asking the community that Steven has served for so long to perhaps lend a hand only if able. And you absolutely don’t have to give. We could also use your prayers, one of the most powerful tools we have, and maybe you could send this forward to everyone you know and wish Steven the best with his recovery. It’s certainly been a very scary situation for us.”

The community has donated about $24,000 as of press time, with a goal of $50,000. The GoFundMe account is here.

The shelf is usually full of shoes, but due to the pandemic and Steven Garcia’s injuries, the shop has not seen as many customers. Amy Byres photo.

“We know that we are going to be facing hospital bills, helicopter bill, shop rent and the list goes on. And leather work is not a lucrative business during a pandemic,” Shelly said.

The support from the community is overwhelming, Steven said.

“I really love the community. All my friends and loyal customers that have come out to help make me feel real good — people care,” he said.

Friends have dropped off groceries and donations at the shop in Lujan Plaza, 1520 Deborah Road, Suite G, Steve said.

Being in the community so long, he is always running into someone he knows and wouldn’t have it any other way.

His father is helping him with the remaining shoes he has to repair. Despite his injuries, it will not affect when customers can pick up their orders.

Steve is not taking on new clients till he can get back to work, he said. For more information, call 892-4420 or visit the shop.

Staff writer at Rio Rancho Observer