The owner of Firm George Zammit, a spice store in Valletta that is commonly referred to as Tal-Hwawar, confirmed on Tuesday that he is planning to close the shop.

The store, which has been run by Johann Farrugia for over 40 years, has been open since 1888, when his father’s uncle started the business. Nowadays the store stocks a range of aromatic herbs and spices for sale, however in the past it stocked various items according to people’s daily needs, including candles, string, and paraffin lamps.

Mr Farrugia hinted at the idea of shutting up shop last week, and he has reiterated this in an interview with WhosWho.mt, suggesting that such old stores are being “pushed” away from the capital.

Johann Farrugia

Firm George Zammit Owner Johann Farrugia / Inigo Taylor

“The fact that many old shops are being changed into bars and restaurants makes you feel you are being pushed out of Valletta to make space for the new generation. This is especially the case since you end up having tables and chairs around you, with permits being issued daily without considering any other types of stores,” he explained.

Such a dramatic change leads to people “not coming to Valletta to see a variety of shops”, but instead to go to bars and restaurants. “This, coupled with many other hurdles like limited parking, lead to people not coming to Valletta that regularly,” Mr Farrugia added.

Mr Farrugia also remarked that local authorities need to show “support” towards these stores. “I don’t mean funds, but to appreciate all the hard work for all these years of operations,” he said.

Firm George Zammit

Firm George Zammit's interior / Facebook

“One has to remember that the economy all started with such small shops. It is also important to keep these shops open to promote Malta’s charm. However, these factors have been put aside, and it is too late now, as there is no return and no going back in time,” Mr Farrugia explained.

This lack of support has also been echoed by other stores in Valletta, with a significant amount of money being required to cover renovations and other expenses.

When asked whether he is considering reopening in another location, he said: “I love Valletta, as I was born here and worked here for the past 45 years.” Mr Farrugia's aim “will always be” to open in a new spot in Valletta, “with a new perspective, possibly coffee and herbs, and a new story”.

Main Image:

Firm George Zammit / Facebook

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Written By

Fabrizio Tabone

Fabrizio has a passion for the economy and technology, especially when it comes to innovation. Aside from this, he also has a passion for football and movies, and so you will often find him either with a ball to his feet or at the cinema checking out the latest releases.