He’s served everyone from run-of-the-mill dubs to legendary Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, but the owner of The Pen Corner said he had “no choice” but to close up shop.
ohn Fitzgerald, whose family founded the business almost 100 years ago, described the closure of his iconic store as “a bereavement for Dublin”.
He also agrees with Panto Queen Twink’s recent comments as she called Dublin city center “a kip”.
Occupying a landmark building at the intersection of College Green and Trinity Street, Pen Corner was founded in 1927 by his great-aunt Florence O’Brien and her husband Paddy.
Over the decades it has provided leading names in literature, film and music – from John Banville and Brian Friel to Elvis Costello and Grace Kelly – as well as regular Dubliners with specialty pens, ink, supplies and stationery.
Mr. Fitzgerald once served the late Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain, although he admits he didn’t know who he was at the time.
More recently, high-profile clients have included Lana Wachowski, one of the writers on the Matrix series.
Mr Fitzgerald, who is the third generation to run the shop in his family, told Independent.ie he made the “disgustingly difficult” decision to close after the business struggled to recover from Covid-19 restrictions.
The annual rent of 75,000 euros, problems in the supply chain and a lower footfall in the city were also factors, he said.
“We paid half our rent during the pandemic, but by the time we agreed to return to full rent, all of our capital reserves were gone,” he said. “We had no choice but to withdraw from our lease agreement early.
“Small family businesses like ours create jobs, they don’t care about profit. My main concern is the staff.
“We hope to keep people as we build an online presence, but we’re constrained by contracts with suppliers.”
With The Pen Corner currently operating “week in and week out”, Mr Fitzgerald said his main focus is closing the store.
“It’s a job in itself, doing a deal,” he said. “Right now, emotional waves are reaching us from our customers.
“Much of the mood relates to people’s memories of Dublin in the rare old days. Customers crowd in front of me – it’s like a Dublin bereavement.”
While there was plenty of sympathy and support for the store’s owner and staff on social media, the news was also met with anger.
Last week Panto Queen Twink said the loss of The Pen Corner was “the saddest of all closures” and slammed Dublin city center, describing it as “a kip” – an opinion shared by Mr Fitzgerald.
“I can walk 10 meters out my door and see middle-aged men injecting children with drugs,” he said. “Tourists who come to Dublin do not want to experience drug addiction.
“Shopkeepers are closest to the people on the street. Over the past few years, you’ve basically watched people die.
“By welcoming customers, you also open your door to crazies and gougers. I had needles stuck in my throat and kicked in the head.”
Mr Fitzgerald said he had no concerns about the closure regarding his family’s legacy and was “not sure yet” if he would miss the store.
“I’m going to miss aspects of it, but I’m not sure about Dublin anymore,” he said. “I love the city center but I hate seeing what’s happening with it.”
https://www.independent.ie/regionals/dublin/dublin-news/i-once-served-kurt-cobain-but-had-no-idea-who-he-was-says-owner-of-the-pen-corner-41594486.html “I once served Kurt Cobain – but had no idea who he was,” says the owner of The Pen Corner in Dublin