After 29 years firmly planted on East Village’s fashion row, Gallery Vercon boutique is closing its doors on January 15. In the meantime all the goods are marked down, 20 to 50 percent off.
The store began life focusing on accessories and jewelry — owner Vashti De Verteuil is a jewelry designer by training — and added clothing 15 years ago. Over time, the style of the shop evolved with the neighborhood: “It began more punk, but as our customers grew up with us, we had more classic things — with a little twist,” said De Verteuil. Popular designers in stock today include Joanie James and Yolanda Kwan.
De Verteuil said the building, 332 East Ninth Street, was being sold to Raphael Toledano, the 25-year-old founder of Brookhill Properties, who has been aggressively snapping up real estate in the East Village — just last September he bought a 16-building East Village portfolio from the Tabak family for $97 million.
Since De Verteuil only had a month-to-month with her old landlord, there wasn’t much space for negotiation. “They did not even give me a chance, I just had to get out,” she said. “I think that even people who have new stores, they are trying to buy them out in the ground floor. The gentleman next door to me, an architect, he only came in the spring and they are trying to buy him out.”
In fact, Toledano has been coming under increasing scrutiny for his tactics, including complaints of tenant harassment, and allegedly falsely representing himself as a lawyer to get access to buildings.
“The good old days are gone,” De Verteuil sighed. “You know, when the new landlords take over, you can barely afford the rent anyway. Whatever offer they were going to make me, I wasn’t going to be able to afford it.” After almost three decades in the biz, she doesn’t see a new storefront in her future, but plans to keep selling online.