The two brands, present for over a hundred years, have not survived the tourism crisis. The attorney for the leather goods store Pagan: “the owner wants 9,000 Euro a month in rent”
By Vera Mantengoli
29 September 2020
A few tourists take pictures with the pigeons and at the cafe tables some clients listen to live music, but if you walk under the porticoes of San Marco, sadness takes over.
Many businesses did not reopen after the lockdown, and yesterday, like lighting from a clear sky, two historic stores closed their doors: the leather good shop Pagan and the Venini glass showroom.
A cry of anxiety and anger is rising from the Piazza: “Property owners need to be made aware that tenants cannot pay the rent due to the loss of the international clients,” explains Claudio Vernier, president of the Piazza San Marco Merchants’ Association, with some bitterness.
“The State should establish a fund for these businesses that live on solely tourism, in particular in the historic centers of Cities of Art,” he adds. After a hundred years of life in the Piazza the crisis is costing Venini, which will move to Murano, while Pagan has closed, choked by an impossible to meet rent.
They aren’t the only ones in trouble in Piazza San Marco: without American, Asian and Arab clients the future is a dark tunnel without a glimmer of hope.
In addition there is anger at the Venetian property owners who, despite the global pandemic, did not even meet with those who had regularly paid their rent for a hundred years: “We have always been a profitable business with an excellent, transparent and solid balance sheet,” explains Paolo Valentino Fagherazzi, legal representative for the artistic leather goods shop Pagan at number 54 San Marco, which specialized in the sale of exotic leathers and leather painted by hand and decorated with gold leaf.
“We paid the rent for 101 years, but this year we were not able to pay 9,000 Euro a month, and the owner, a Venetian, evicted us. This year, from January to September, we invoiced 85% less than usual, but despite the business plan that we presented to the owner, there was no way. Where is the State? This is the result of an absent State and a City that has not listened.”
Fagherazzi also turned to the banks, but even here he could not find a solution. “We asked for a considerable sum to survive, but the banks have never made a real agreement with the State, and they are organized on their own,” he explains. “In our case, even though we are a secure business, we would have had to repay the whole thing in six years, and for us that was impossible.”
In the Piazza, which just months ago was a symbol of wealth and elegance, the air is filled with a powerful sense of crisis that worries those who know that soon layoffs will be possible again, and the mortgages will no longer be deferred, all to be paid with what money?
The Venini company decided after 98 years at San Marco to relocate to Murano, leaving empty a space where glass works sought the world over have sparkled since 1922. “Venini has chosen to rethink its presence in the lagoon, choosing to concentrate on direct sales, working out of the old factory on Murano where it has had an office since 1921,” the Damiani family, which bought the old glassworks in 2016, announced yesterday. “Venini is still evaluating the possibility of opening a new store in Venice that can carry on the traditional presence of the brand in the city.” Their reasons were not made explicit, but in this case too it seems that the collapse of international tourism and the high rent contributed to the decision.
“Either Covid ends or the State should intervene even in private law to reduce rents, instead of everyone having to close” say Jessica Nordio of the shop Arcadia and Paola Tresca of Camilla. “We cannot be left to the good will of the individual owner to see if the rent will be lowered or not. There is a global pandemic in progress here, and the owners cannot think they are exempt from what is happening on the whole planet.”
Source: La Nuova Venezia