Meld northern Italy’s unimpeachable reputation for design excellence with southern Mexico’s centuries’-old tradtion of incomparable craftsmanship, and you get Veneto, a new showroom in San Dimas, featuring beautiful handcrafted artisan funiture made from 100 percent reforested pinewood.
The story of how Veneto came to open its doors in San Dimas is a transglobal one, crossing generations and multinational borders.
Indeed, the 47,000-square foot store on the northeast of corner of Arrow Highway and Valley View takes its name from the Veneto (Venice) region of Italy, which includes the small town of Segusino, the ancestral home of Veneto owner Demetrio Zago.
Over the years, many of the town’s residents, including Zago’s family, migrated to Chipilo, Puebla in southern Mexico and became dairy farmers.
“I grew up a farmer, and my father was a veternarian, so I know my way around cows,” Zago said.
But as the dairy region was phased out, Chipilo’s resourceful citizens began to reclaim the old stables and stockyards, refashioning the abandoned beams and boards into exquisite pieces of rustic furniture, accented with inlays of marble and onyx from a nearby quarry.
It wasn’t long before Chipilo’s industrious residents turned the town into a furniture-making hub, an extraordinary transformation that caught the eye of investors from Segusino, Italy, which is the sister city of Chipilo. They invested in a large factory in Chipilo that now exports its unique rustic furniture to Greece, Spain, and other furniture-loving countries, including the United States.
Meanwhile, Zago came to the states about two decades ago, and while taking a job as an auto mechanic, the man, who grew up as a farmer and speaks Italian, Spanish and English, never forgot his rustic roots.
“This is my dream,” said Zago, standing in the middle of his showroom surrounded by coffee tables, curio cabinets, dressers, bedroom sets, barrel bars and other unique furniture pieces fashioned out of solid white pine and shipped directly from Chipilo.
If you’re expecting assembly-line, cookie-cut configurations sold at Mathis Brothers, Ikea or Livings Spaces, Veneto won’t be on your smart phone’s speed-dial. But if your tastes run toward the unique and unusual and that eye-catching curiosity, Veneto could provide an afternoon of splendid and serendipitous shopping. For instance, renowned painter Georgia O’Keeffe would feel right at home here because of the store’s colorful and often whimsical offerings with their rural and rustic charm, all handmade and hand-painted, many in bold and daring reds and bluish-greens.
Only about 30 percent of Veneto’s inventory is displayed on the showroom. “I wish we could display more,” Zago said.
That said, Veneto can help the client mix and match or special order because of its direct line to its Chipilo manufacturer.
What is on display exudes quality and value.
“There are no laminates or particle board; it’s all solid and handmade,” said showroom manager Chris Witkowski. “It’s not furniture that comes with a plastic bag of nuts and bolts and a confusing set of directions for you to put together like an erector set.”
Despite Veneto’s uncompromising quality, the store can offer many of its pieces for less than the big boxes.
“That’s because we have a direct line with our manufacturer and we don’t have the overhead, advertising budget or layers of management that major furniture stores have,” Witkowski added.
Veneto also has the home field advantage. Zago and his wife Teresa, who has worked in Bonita High School’s front office for the past 16 years, are San Dimas residents who live only about a mile from their new enterprise.
“We’re trying to make the store as comfortable, welcoming and homey as possible,” Teresa said.
“We wanted to serve our local community,” Zago added. “Now we hope it chooses us.”
Veneto appears to be the perfect neighbor for which the community has long been waiting!
And you can say that in English, Spanish, Italian or any other tongue that speaks great furniture!
Veneto welcomes you to its grand opening on Saturday, Dec. 7. Festivities will included food trucks, giveaways, more surprises and special pricing on selected furniture items. For more information, please call 909.599.7074.
Veneto is located at 1499 W. Arrow Hwy, in San Dimas in the Stater Brothers shopping center.