Broward News

Merry Christmas J Miles. Now Git!

Jerry Miles feigns sparring inside his store.

Iconic Fort Lauderdale gift shop operator Jerry Miles (posing pugilistic above) has lost the battle to stay at 721 E. Broward Blvd. We wrote about Miles' fight to prove the validity of his business lease in this April story

After a trial starring an elderly woman on the verge of a stroke, a doped man in a wheelchair, and a young woman with a revenge motive -- Judge Thomas Lynch ruled in favor of landlord Valerie Lyons. Miles is crushed. But with legal bills approaching six figures, he has decided not to appeal. Here's the declaratory judgment proposed by Jerry Miles' attorney. 

"I've been trying to rationalize it in my head that it's a divorce, or sending a child to college," says Miles. "I mean, $70,000 (in legal fees)!"

If only it were that simple. After the jump, Miles sifts through the debris.

Miles says that Lyons' attorney is now asking for $106,000 in back rent, plus interest. "They say I never had a lease, so they can just make up what the rent would be (going back eight years)." 

Oh, and it would be swell if Jerry Miles refrained from discussing the case. This last detail makes Miles fume. "I have the right to talk about my life and the business I built. I will never sign that she can control my thought process." 

Proof of the Lyons victory is all over the store. A few weeks ago, someone climbed onto the roof and stuck a "for rent" sign over the J Miles name; the contact for potential renters is Valerie Lyons. On the front window, Jerry Miles has painted his own messages: "closing sale" and "60% off entire store."

Miles doesn't intend to open shop elsewhere. So every day without an eviction notice is an opportunity to liquidate more merchandise, to say goodbye to more customers, to feign normalcy. It feels like a slow, painful march toward the inevitable.    

The only consolation for Miles is that his costly legal rendezvous with Lyons will soon be a memory -- the surreal kind. "It's like a weird-ass movie to me," he says. "Like a vortex." 

--Amy Guthrie