Mission Merchants Association Supports American Apparel


This morning, the Mission Merchants Association came out in favor of American Apparel’s bid to move into a space on Valencia Street. In a letter to the planning commission, they cite the chain-store-is-better-than-an-empty-storefront argument, as well as American Apparel’s responsible business practices. They denounce the notion that AA is a gateway to the Gap, and make clear that this endorsement is NOT a “blanket endorsement of allowing chain stores into the Mission.”

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62 thoughts on “Mission Merchants Association Supports American Apparel”

  1. Haha

    Medjool’s owner is listed as being on their board as well as a couple of those awful 16th/valencia st. bars that cater to the marina crowd.

  2. Are you kidding Tara; that’s the national pastime here; leave your provincial straight-laced town back east and come to SF then tell us what our neighborhood should look like.

  3. Yeah, Tara. I mean, it’s perfectly okay that several of the most expensive restaurants in town are a block away. Or that several high-end boutiques are nearby. Ditto Sketchers, AT&T, Verizon, Walgreens, DeLano. But American Apparel? That would surely be the death of the Mission.

  4. No wait, guys. My favorite was when a guy noted that AA could set up shop in the Castro instead, maybe, because that would be better. Yes. The neighborhood that was so indie, it rejected Trader Joe’s. Yeah, that one.

    Translation: it’s close enough for me to get to myself, but it’s not in my backyard, muddling up my air of pretentiousness.


  5. This is the best guerrilla marketing campaign EVAR! Everybody “opposed” to AA is doing a great job– you can’t buy this kind of coverage!!

  6. Ahh, yes, good to see the Castro support that bastion of indie shopping known as Diesel, ha ha.

    I still say Apple could open a store on Valencia with nary a peep of protest. There’d be a line of hipsters waiting for applications.

    Let’s face it, unless we live in a cave and grow our own food, we’re all hypocritical nimby ironic hipsters, whether it’s a $5 cup of coffee, or a $25 pair of leggings, or our $1000 fixie.

  7. So, this hearing tomorrow sounds like it’s going to be *the* society event of the season! Do we get a missionmission liveblog?

    [Also, the over/under on how many times bigger this hearing will be than last year’s community meeting following all the shootings is: 3. Betting is now opening.]

  8. Who is in this Association anyway? I could make my own and use fancy letterhead and then people would listen to my argument!

  9. Most neighborhood “associations” are just a couple strong willed individuals. Which means, you should start your own… it improves your chances of being heard.

  10. Yeeeessssss, zinzin, I wrote my letter!
    I also addressed it to every supervisor, Planning Department official and Planning Commission Commissioner and Manager (I can provide those addresses if you like…). Oh, and the Mayor.
    I stole some points from you, meave and other regular Mission-Mission commenters. Anyone may feel free to steal points and language from me.
    Here it is (quite long, excuse me). Bombs away!


    Dear Mayor Newsom, Supervisors, Planning Commission & Planning Department Representatives and Concerned Parties,

    I am writing to express my opposition to the Stop American Apparel campaign and its tactics, in advance of the hearing tomorrow evening.

    I am long-time San Francisco resident, a former long-time Mission resident, a current frequent visitor to and fan of The Mission, and a habitue of many of its locally-owned cafes, restaurants and shops. I know many of the owners and workers in these establishments, many of whom live in The Mission.
    Many of my friends, including my goddaughter and her parents, live in The Mission.
    I am also a leading member of a non-profit organization that used to have its San Francisco headquarters in The Mission, is currently involved in a development campaign to move its headquarters, and would like to move there again, with an affordable lease.
    I am also generally concerned about development in San Francisco, and a strong supporter of neighborhood character and businesses. I was opposed to, signed petitions against, and made various contributions toward stopping Starbucks in North Beach and Home Depot in Bernal Heights/Bayshore. I am good acquaintances with long-time Hayes Valley shopowners who were forced out by quadrupling rent increases. I have friends and acquaintances who now own or have owned (and closed!) shops in more expensive neighborhoods such as Russian Hill and North Beach, and am sensitive to their struggles with real estate trends and increasing rents.
    I moved to San Francisco to enjoy the openness, acceptance, freedom and expression that it generously offers to unconventional individuals and alternative social groups, and continue to enjoy a rich social network in the City that includes and mixes good human beings of all types.
    In short, I have a background that one might assume would strongly dispose me to support the Stop American Apparel campaign.

    However, I feel the Stop American Apparel campaign is very wrong, because:
    > it has presented false and misleading information about American Apparel
    > it has recruited most of its support based primarily or solely on this false and misleading information
    >it has exaggerated its support and the degree to which it and its founder Stephen Elliot represent “the community” or any real part of the community of The Mission (including exaggerating which small local businesses are actually supporting the campaign versus merely allowing its signs to be displayed)
    > it has suppressed and censored dialog and criticism in comments on its own blog, and has attempted to minimize such criticism in the community and on other blogs
    >it is actually more of platform for the personal and political ambitions (and otherwise-unsupported self-identification as an activist and community representative) of its founder Stephen Elliot than a response to threat or expression of concern on the part of a community as a whole or even in its subcultures

    The worst of these problems with the campaign is the false and misleading information. This information has changed somewhat as Stop American Apparel has updated and focused its approach (and has also removed earlier information from its blog), but the information has included at least the following points:
    >that American Apparel is a “big box” store (when it does not have the economic model, market or impact of a big box store, and is instead a niche manufacturer and retailer with mostly good employment practices and relatively quite good pay scales)
    > that we should prevent “more d-bags” [my abbreviation] from coming into the neighborhood by stopping American Apparel (this was explicit in a comment by Stephen Elliot in response to critical comments on the Stop American Apparel blog; these have since been removed, but show the real attitude and motivation, hardly a positive vision of diverse community or a legal basis)
    > that American Apparel has continued to hold the lease on the 988 Valencia St. space to prevent others, including local businesses, from leasing it
    > that allowing American Apparel to come into The Mission will encourage rent increases that will harm local businesses and residents (while this could remain a concern, it is neither caused by American Apparel coming nor eliminated by American Apparel not coming; Hayes Valley is an example of how such trends have continued based solely on local business demand for commercial real estate)
    > that allowing American Apparel to come into The Mission would set a precedent or create a legal opening for any “big box” or “formula retail” store to come into the Mission unopposed (when actually, quite to the contrary, Prop G requires separate review for EVERY formula retail applicant, and includes considerations of existing retail and available space that could actually work against formula retail clothing chains attempting to follow American Apparel)

    This last point of false and misleading information about setting a precedent or creating a legal opening is the worst, and also seems to be the basis for any support enjoyed by Stop American Apparel.
    Almost everyone I have spoken with in The Mission who expressed concern or opposition has done so on the basis of this point. Further, when I explained Prop G, many of them dropped their opposition (although they may have continued to express a distaste for American Apparel as a brand, mostly because of its ad campaigns, the reputation of its founder, Dov Charney, and its perceived appropriation of hipness).
    Many people are nowhere near as vehement, negative, committed or even decided in their opposition as the Stop American Apparel campaign would like to present. For many people, tenuously-held apparent opposition seems not to be a political matter about the community and the local business landscape of The Mission, but more a matter of personal taste or preference – or even just joking and passing remarks – about the brand, on which they are not willing to go as far as opposing American Apparel legally or politically or stopping their attempts to conduct and further their business. Many people, even those with a personal preference for not having an American Apparel store in The Mission, have a respect for the right of American Apparel to conduct business, and have a healthy attitude of suspicion and toward the vehemence, righteousness and polarizing anger and identifications of the Stop American Apparel campaign.

    Further, many concerned Missionites and San Franciscans are opposed to Stephen Elliot, and to his tactics and ambitions. To get a sense of this, you may want to check the blog sites sfist and Mission Mission, whose posts and comments feature witty, entertaining and some powerfully-argued criticisms of the Stop American Apparel campaign. Stephen Elliot and Stop American Apparel do not have the support of “the community”, and are neither real community representatives nor a force for positive, inclusive change in the community.
    In particular, see (while excusing some of the language):
    https://missionmission.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/grand-arbiter-of-scum/ (for the witty caricature)
    https://missionmission.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/american-apparel-speaks/ (for some good debate and discussion, and criticism of S.A.A.)
    You may also search “American Apparel” on sfist and Mission Mission.

    Given these problems with the Stop American Apparel campaign, I cannot support it, and urge you not to support it, either.

    For the elected officials among you, not supporting Stop American Apparel will not alienate you from your real base in the electorate, so long as you continue your good work in support of positive efforts providing real benefits to the City and its neighborhoods, and show openness and sensitivity in relating to its diverse communities.

    Further, I do not believe that American Apparel will have any significant negative impact on The Mission, its character or its businesses.
    > American Apparel as a style, brand or retail experience is at not out-of-character for The Mission as it really is now, and attitudes about it have more to do with its ad campaigns, the reputation of its founder Dov Charney, and with popularity among hipsters of being anti-hipster or opposing the commodification of hipster (which is actually also done by local businesses).
    > There are already many other existing formula retail businesses – mostly along Mission St., including Ritmo Latino! – and their presence has not harmed the character of The Mission.
    > These other existing formula retail businesses serve very different markets from the niche clothing (in terms of style, brand and price) market served by American Apparel, and would not count as too much formula retail in this niche or in clothing in general.
    > American Apparel, because of its niche, would not compete against neither the smaller, low-end clothing shops on Mission St. nor the specialty used and designer clothing shops on Valencia St. (I would like to emphasize that, from a marketing point of view, these used and designer clothing shops, although some of their owners have been recruited by Stephen Elliot in letter-writing campaigns, are not in the same market niche as American Apparel, who offer complementary, not competitive, products.)

    Quite to the contrary, American Apparel could instead actually have significant positive effects:
    > American Apparel could have a “magnet effect” that draws more shoppers to The Mission, providing more business for local clothing shops that offer complementary products and for other local businesses such as restaurants and cafes. Similarly, it could actually fill out the clothing offerings in The Mission, creating a viable neighborhood shopping district, consistent with the character of the neighborhood, so that shoppers could complete all their shopping tasks in the neighborhood, purchasing basic brand items at American Apparel and complementary specialty items at used and designer clothing stores on Valencia St.
    > American Apparel would provide secure and relatively well-paid jobs
    > having an American Apparel store would provide grounds on Prop G actually to prevent much larger and worser formula clothing retailers from coming into The Mission, based on existing formula clothing retail as well as demand and space available
    > American Apparel at least appears to be socially conscious and responsible, and could perhaps be recruited in more positive campaigns to support local community, culture and business in The Mission

    Finally, I believe that principles of democracy and freedom and ideals of diversity, inclusiveness and harmony – which San Francisco is renowned for representing, defending and supporting – are best served by not supporting an opposition campaign based on misunderstanding, divisiveness, and antipathy.
    If the City has concern for its neighborhoods, and wants to be effective in supporting them, it must focus on effective, positive efforts to provide real and genuine support for its local culture, community and business. It must create a context for diversity among its residents, as well as its businesses, in which all enjoy basic freedoms and share the benefits of success. The Stop American Apparel campaign does not do this, and stopping American Apparel won’t either.

    Please don’t stop American Apparel; it’s just not right to stop something for the wrong reasons. Also, we need to protect our laws from being applied wrongly, so that we can rely on them when we really do need them for right.

    Thank you for your consideration, and for all your good work in support of our City.

  11. Here are the addresses:

    Mayor and Supervisors:
    Mayor Gavin Newsom ; Supervisor Aaron Peskin ; Supervisor Sean Elsbernd ; Supervisor Bevan Dufty ; Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi ; Supervisor Sophie Maxwell ; Supervisor Eric Mar ; Supervisor Chris Daly ; Supervisor Carmen Chu ; Supervisor David Chiu ; Supervisor David Campos ; Supervisor John Avalos ; Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier

    Planning Commission and Department:
    Christina Olague ; Ron Miguel ; Michael J. Antonini ; Gwyneth Borden ; William L. Lee ; Kathrin Moore ; Hisashi Sugaya ; Lawrence B. Badiner ; Pilar LaValley ; Linda Avery ; John Rahaim

  12. Oops. That didn’t work; tags containing email addresses were interpreted as HTML tags with unrecognized names. Sorry. More later…

  13. An unnamed landlord earlier today was telling me about how he thought having chain stores was the best thing possible because it meant more property value.

    I couldn’t believe he was being so blatent. His exact words were, “Don’t you think this neighborhood could use a little more gentrification? I’m selling property for $750,000-$1,000,000. I think the neighborhood should be a little cleaner for that kind of money. I’m supporitive of American Apparel coming in and having more chain stores is a good thing.” He was completely serious and totally for real, just some 50 year gross rich white man with a button down shirt.

    fuck medjool and the 16th/valencia bar owners. what a bunch of bullshit. of course their “Merchant Association” supports American Apparel coming in. I was lucky enough to have a rich dirtbag be honest with me today about why this chain store is welcome.

  14. @CSays: That is a great letter. I wrote one also. Unfortunately Matier & Ross say that Bevan Dufty has received 250 e-mails against and 5 in favor. So more people should be sending e-mails.

    I think the biggest piece of misinformation is that AA is a beachhead for Starbucks etc. As you mention, each and every additional chain store that would want to open up would have to go through discretionary review.

    So the real debate should be about whether AA is a an appropriate and worthwhile addition to the neighgorhood. But the anti-AA crowd has specifically said that they don’t want to talk about that; They just want to argue that all chain stores are bad — like WalMart or worse.

  15. dude, unamed landlord’s JOB is to make money in real estate. what the fuck do you think he’s going to say? his point is, people are spending 1M fucking dollars in the hood, why would they put up with crackheads, bums & hos on their block? it’s actually a reasonable question. because they won’t for long.

    plus, he doesn;t live in the hood, man. he has no fucking idea what people want, what their values are, what works and what doesn’t. all he cares about is MONEY. does that make him a dirtbag? no. is he one? maybe. i didnt meet the guy, and you;re obviously disgusted just by his age and the fact that he’s white.

    who gives a fuck what he thinks about AA and chain stores? are you SURPRISED that he wants them? he probably lives in a giant house in fucking orinda, dude. and FUCKING PROP G takes care of all that shit anyways….and he probably HAS NO IDEA WHAT PROP G MEANS.

    do you?

    point is, this whole anti-AA crapola, much as it irks me and much as it makes me shout at the pizza on my shoes…is a fucking flash in the pan.

    if it’s true that people are spending 1M on residential real estate in the hood, and it is true, the battle is already over.

    AA means nothing, and when the economic pendulum swings again, whether it’s in 1 year or 3 years or 5, the deal is done. does that mean it’ll be Gap and Starbucks and Costco and all that crap on valencia? of course not.

    but every storefront will be filled, and whether its with a chain or not, it;ll be filled with crap that’s for people that own 1M real estate, people that come to the hood from pac heights to shop, people willing to pay $5 for fucking ritual coffee, people who will buy handmade garments at dema, or people that will but taxidermy mice at paxton makes me puke fucking gate.

    THAT’S the core hollowness of the anti-AA bullshit. so the Mission won’t tun into Soho, because l’Occitane can’t move in. but it WILL turn into Hayes Valley, and even though the shops & restos will be “independent” they will still be too expensive for the folks that will be displaced, and rents will STILL go up, and your dirtbag landlord friend will STILL be rich.

  16. nicely done letter, c. I must admit I’m torn on AA — while I certainly don’t like chains, don’t want Valencia to turn into Danville, and find AA annoying, I certainly don’t like empty storefronts or places that sell crap and must admit I like the AA collared shirts. But some context is in order.

    Mission used to be called the Miracle Mile. It was one of the biggest shopping areas in the city.

    1958: http://webbie1.sfpl.org/multimedia/sfphotos/AAB-4712.jpg
    1957: http://webbie1.sfpl.org/multimedia/sfphotos/AAB-4710.jpg
    1949: http://webbie1.sfpl.org/multimedia/sfphotos/AAB-4704.jpg

    Keep in mind this was back in the day when a dollar actually got you something:

    $1 in 1940 = $14.64 today
    $1 in 1950 = $8.50 today
    $1 in 1960 = $6.93 today

    More pictures on http://sflib1.sfpl.org:82/

    But in the 60s the Mission faded out for a variety of reasons — the suburbanization of America was well underway (“hey, let’s build tract housing and malls right on top of an active fault in Daly City”!) and BART tearing up Mission accelerated the flight of business. I’m greatly simplifying, but things changed.

    Now I moved here because it’s sunny and I like to be able to walk places. I don’t want Valencia to turn into chain central. I am willing to pay good money for good coffee and good food. I want it to be unique, quirky, a little hipster, a little funky, multicultural, but also profitable and sustainable. I don’t mind when it takes me 10 minutes to cross the street once a month because of Critical Mass.

    However, I have yet to see any reasonable alternative plans on revitalizing the area from the likes of our friend Stephen Elliot. He sounds like Dr No. Sorry, but there’s a balance to be struck here and unless I missed it, I have yet to see constructive arguments from the AA deniers. (And sorry, “government funded clothing stores” don’t count.) Are they out there? Happy to be corrected.

    The ultimate irony in this debate is the biggest chain in the world is already on Valencia — the US Federal government with the Social Security Office. But, as usual, I digress.

  17. the worst thing about this AA mess been the ad hominem garbage directed at people on both sides of the issue.

    i’ve lived in the mission for 4 years, right around the corner from the proposed AA. i would prefer that valencia street stay 100% free of chain stores. in my humble opinion AA is absolutely a beachhead situation for that street. if enough people stand up and stop it, then the next chain store that comes along will be discouraged from even trying. otherwise, no probably not the Gap but more likely whatever the next version of the Gap without the stigma.

    it may be vacant now but some local business will be along soon enough to snap it up b/c that is a prime spot.

  18. @justin…

    is a local business that will only ever serve a small part of the community, employs only white people, sells nothing that’s really needed, and continues to build the privileged enclave that has become valencia street (like ritual, dema or paxton puke gate?)

    better than

    a chain store that could serve more of the community, employs a diverse set of people from the hood, sells something useful and creates a more varied mix of stores on valencia? (like AA, or maybe Hear Music, or even an Apple store?)


  19. johnny0 & zinzin, well said y’all…

    The notion of Apple store coming to the Mission, there’d be no opposition there for sure. And mentioning this will high-light my final point that I’ve held back for sometime:

    – I know why the folks against AA are all freaked out here… it’s because AA is ultimately a company that manufactures and markets directly to their demographic “fashion sense” and it makes them feel less unique. Period.

    Sorry kids. Guess you’ll have to throw away most of the clever “logo-Ts” since they’re virtually all printed on AA shirts? Right, never gonna happen…

    Oh and hail-hail to the MMA for their support of AA!


    I said it once and I’ll say it again: if you don’t pay property tax as a business owner or resident in the Mission district PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP -either in opposition OR in favor. Because whatever happens is either way is ultimately not in your domain.

    Otherwise you’re just a bellyaching charlatan who’s running their mouth about some business moving into some area in some other country. And to those of you who are going to the hearing (it’s today right?) to speak your mind and you’re NOT a property tax payer of the Mission: you are this person…

    Actually come to think of it, in some ways non-tax payers are more akin to the non-resident landlords who think they know what’s best for the Mission. Am I right?

    – A Mission property tax payer who says let all businesses do fuckall. Give people more credit, quit trying to protect them from themselves… because the wallet is ultimately my voice on any business succeeding here.

  20. johnnyO – awesome photos and excellent commentary. i agree on all points re AA. i just don’t think there is not a defensible opposition position. and i think they won’t have any bad effect as a chain and may have a good effect as a filling out of clothing options for shopping on valencia.
    re the photos – what happened?! was it just suburban flight, shopping malls and economic ups & downs? check out the guy with the rolled-up jeans and white fedora in 4710. proto-hipster.
    just sayin – i agree re ad hominem argument. perhaps i’ve gotten sucked into that informal logical fallacy myself in some comments, and it’s a good reminder to hear about it from you. but i think there is also room to question motivation, intention and just plain scheming, esp. when there is false and misleading information, feedback and commentary about it, censorship of commentary, and continued false and misleading information.
    so far as aa being a beachhead – check the text of Prop G. doesn’t solve all problems, but it’s interesting. it requires review for every “formula retail” application. it specifies considerations for review, including whether there’s already too much, and how much space is left available for all businesses. there are relatively clear provisions for preventing further and too much “formula retail”. according to these, having aa could count against future formula retail. rather them than gap, i’d feel…
    also zinzin has made the point (stolen in my letter) that it’s not just formula retail that will drive rent increases, and hayes valley is a case in point – all local businesses that took over space from small independent shops forced out by rent increases. if we want both to allow landlords basic economic freedoms and support small independent shops, we need to do something else. and we should consider who we really want to support and what we want things to look like. there can be some intention applied in development, but in-group fascism is another problem.
    i found johnnyO’s comments on this balanced and insightful. but, as he says, there’s no “government funded clothing stores”. except in the military.

  21. “I said it once and I’ll say it again: if you don’t pay property tax as a business owner or resident in the Mission district PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP -either in opposition OR in favor. Because whatever happens is either way is ultimately not in your domain. ”

    You’re both incorrect and wrong.

  22. Saying that Stop American Apparel has given false information 5 hours before the hearing makes your statements credibility suspect.

    Same with the Merchants Association coming out today with their statement.

    I wonder how much AA apparel paid for this endorsement?

    The Mission Merchants Association represents less than 1% of the Mission Merchants.

    They are a despised entity of sniveling idiots. Their endorsement means nothing.

    I could start a merchants association with the numbers in my phone and have more merchants. And the merchants in my phone will still be here in 2 years….

    Ignore this endorsement. The store will not go in. We have won. The people have spoken.

    And if by some miracle we lose today, we’ll appeal at the board of Supes. And that will be easy peasy.

    We don’t want your store on Valencia.

    And we are not going to have it.

    End of discussion.

  23. Okay, so lets get one thing straight. All of you defending the “The Mission” from chain stores like American Apparel are not defending it for the majority of the actual Mission Neighborhood or the people that live here. I have lived here for quite sometime, and let’s face it, the Valencia Corridor is verging on Castro/Noe. Besides having a sprinkling of drunks and homeless people, Valencia caters as much to people from other neighborhoods as actual Mission residents. The baby store near 25th? The Curiosity Shoppe? Little Otsu? These are places that are frequented by Mission residents but as much so by those on the top fo the hill who can actually afford them. If you are are a young transplant working hard and living from paycheck to paycheck, good luck. If you are one of the ORIGINAL Mission residents and Latino, yeah right. Point in case: If A squared opened a garment factory near, oh let’s say, somewhere in the 20s in between Harrison and York, do you not think droves of Mission residents wouldn’t be lined up to get the respectful jobs A squared has to offer? This social gerrymandering of the Mission is most evident in the lack of protest against Skechers, Mickey D’s, IGA and the droves of stores selling sweatshop goods. It is sad to me that the opponents of American Apparel do not want to include the full range of Mission residents. So sorry folks, y’all just seem bourgie.

  24. I would like to quickly point out that last year I decided not to rejoin the MMA as it became abundantly clear to me that they do not represent Mission Merchants but seem to instead represent Mission Landlords. Many landlords, mine included, actually think holistically about the neighborhood and how formula retail chains will adversely affect the overall image and long-term uniqueness of the neighborhood. But many others only look at the rents and want MORE. The MMA speaks for a select group of landlords and for themselves. Their decision making is shortsighted and, in my opinion, they haven’t made a significant contribution to the neighborhood that the actual merchants haven’t done better on their own. Their endorsement should hold no weight.

    Sean Quigley
    Paxton Gate

  25. Chicken John with the smackdown and firm, confident tone!


    Must be nice to live in a bubble.

    Even if “you” do “win” man, and it’s sad that the “cause” has come to mean so much, it doesn’t really matter.

    Progress will always prevail. Moneyed intetests will always prevail. Its not “if”. Its “when”.

    And I guess Hayes Valley is your idea of progress, because that’s what you’ll (actually I should say we’ll have) have in 5 years for ignoring the broader issues and focusing on a narrow 2 block lala land.

    Rents will continue to rise. Condos will continue to be built – and converted. Long time residents will continue to be displaced. And hipsters like me will continue to buy $5 coffee at ritual.

    Kudos for the mobilization and the “victory”. Really. It is a great feat of community organizing and rabble rousing.

    Thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. It could be inclusive and long term. Instead, it’s exclusive and naive.

    Whatever. I personally think Hayes Valley is pretty nice, and I’m in for the long haul regardless.

    My guess however is that many of the folks that bought into the crusade will be out on their asses when it happens.

    Residential real estate in the hood has lost comaratively little value over the last few years.

  26. I also am not a member of MMA as they absolutely do not represent the kind of business I strive to be in the Mission. Contrary to Zinzin’s appraisal, I have devoted hours of time and hundreds of dollars over the 11 years I’ve had my shop to local services and school fundraisers etc. I pay out of my pocket, along with Lost Weekend and Ritual, to have the sidewalks steam cleaned monthly amongst other things. I want shops to move in that are likewise community minded- not huge national corporations that could give a shit about our community or about putting the money they make from Mission residents BACK into the Mission.

    Dema Grim

  27. Dema, if I misspoke about your comunity activism without doing the proper research I apologize.

    Cleaning your own sidewalk and donating “hundreds” of dollars – that means less than 100 dollars a year over 11 years – however, that’s really penny ante stuff. It’s the minimum any “community minded” business should do in my humble opinion, and not promotable or even commendable in any sense.

    That said, I know keeping a small business afloat is very hard, and I hope you are able to meet your business goals for many years to come.

  28. “My guess however is that many of the folks that bought into the crusade will be out on their asses when it happens.”

    Well I own my building. So I’m not going anywhere. It changes things when you not renting.

    Many of the business’ in time will own their buildings, I hope.

    And if it is all a matter of time before it all goes to shit, then I want that shit to be far off in the future. Today, we have a great thing going.

    And it’s true. The Mission Merchants Assosiation has little to do with the merchants.

    We can join their organization and take it over within the year if we need to. There are more business’ joined in this fight that are part of the MMA.

    When this is all over, I suspect people will be paying more attention.

    It is rumored that Urban Outfitters has bought a building on Valencia street and is biding their time…

  29. I was a member of the MMA originally, but have not renewed my membership in three years because once involved it was obvious that the MMA doesn’t do much. The dues are over $200 a year and there is little if any benefit of being a part of the organization. I’m not surprised by their endorsement however. There are a few powerful Mission District landlords on the board.

    I am against American Apparel moving onto Valencia Street because I feel that San Francisco would be wasting a valuable asset – a completely unique shopping district unlike any other in the world. I think that in the long run that entity will be more valuable not only to residents but landlords as well.

    I also believe the locally owned and operated businesses give more back to community than chains with headquarters often elsewhere. Local businesses have a symbiotic relationship with their communities. Whereas, chains the size and scale of AA, only interact through hiring. But often those jobs are not as stable as when a local business hires. Small businesses tend to not only train, but retain their employees much better than large chains, especially in the retail sector.

    There have been at least three local businesses that wanted to lease the space AA has currently leased. All were denied. Instead the landlord wanted AA so he could charge 300% more per square foot than the average going rate for retail space in the Mission. When rents begin to unnaturally climb that quickly, it’s hard to stop. And shortly after retail rents rise residential rents rise.

    I don’t really have anything against American Apparel as a business, although I believe they actually manufacture in Mexico and assemble in Los Angeles, therefore allowing them to claim, “Made in America”. But that’s neither here nor there I guess. I just don’t think Valencia Street needs this chain. I think the community will benefit more from locally owned businesses that can afford to startup in a community that is vibrant, diverse, and supportive.


    Jennifer Jones
    Candystore Collective

  30. @johnny0: awesome, thanks for the link.

    (It looks like it requires silverlight, for others who are having trouble.)

  31. Off the top of my head …

    National chains already in the Mission: McDonalds, Burger King, Payless, Verizon, AT&T, WaMu, Bank of America, Chevron, Sketchers

    Local chains: Dosa, Little Star, Pancho Villa (El Toro), El Farolito, Taqueria Can-Cun, Dog Eared Books, Therapy, Shoe Biz, Frjtz

    High-end or expensive restaurants/food stores: Range, Foreign Cinema, Farina, Delfina, Delfina Pizzeria, Specchio, Medjool, Bi-Rite, Garcon, Tartine, Monk’s Kettle, Spork

    Expensive boutiques: (what used to be Minnie Wilde, before they changed their name), Candy store, Bell Jar, Ruby, Studio 3579, Stem, Architecture,

    There is no such thing as a unified notion of the “Mission.” Ask all the dead, misplaced Irish people. Or the more recently relocated Hispanic people.

    Stop it, all of you. Times change.

    — Just an average Mission renter who prefers successful businesses to blight and empty storefronts.

  32. “So which building does Urban Outfitters on Valencia, Chicken John?”

    It’s a rumor. I said it was a rumor. I’m mentioning it here trying to get someone who knows to spill it. But we don’t know.

    ” Sorry to break it to everyone: Ritual is a local chain.”

    Ritual has 2 locations in SF, and one is kinda a coffee cart. The other one is in a market in Napa. A quirky experiment in sustainable quasi-communal co-op busines thingy. Sorta like a food court, but way better.

    SF’s governing apparatus defines a “chain” as having 11 locations.

    Therefore, Ritual is not a chain.

    The turnout at the hearing is huge.

  33. Sorry, chicken john — the verb escaped from that sentence. I meant to ask which building do you *think* it is? Only so many are empty and of the size they’d likely want.

  34. Dont forget to ask Chicken John – who has been living outside of SF – about his campaign finance records.
    Progressives love the law as long as its in their favor.
    I simply. cannot. imagine. why someone like him would get so few votes for mayor.

  35. 20th & mission nw corner for sale (yoga studio / travel)

    18th & mission ne corner for sale (99 cent store / deco front)

    Could be one of those. Both are big enough.

    Of maybe one of the theaters.

    Those guys usu open big stores.

  36. @bob

    You gotta remember, the whole thing is as much a spotlight grab for Elliott as anything else.

    No surprise others will jump onto it as well.

  37. On the Ritual thing, point taken. So, they don’t have 11 locations. But one of their two locations is in the Bayview. Not to get into a pissing match here. I just think it’s ironic as hell that the business from which a lot of the outrage against AA centers is itself guilty of … dare I utter the “G” word here? No, because I don’t think Ritual is evil. Ditto American Apparel.

  38. @Bob
    …since when did Chicken John start living out of town?
    I’m thinking it’s gonna take more than 5 gallons of gasoline to settle this.

  39. My views have just been swayed, i’m no longer neutral on this.
    We don’t need American Apparel here in the Mission District.
    As a resident of the Mission for ten years and a business owner for three years, my worst nightmare is Valencia looking like Upper Haight. I’d plain and simple have to move, and it’d be a sad ending to a beautiful and unique neighborhood.

    Owner of Self Edge (Valencia @ 18th)

  40. My views have just been swayed, i’m no longer neutral on this.
    We don’t need American Apparel here in the Mission District.
    As a resident of the Mission for ten years and a business owner for three years, my worst nightmare is Valencia looking like Upper Haight. I’d plain and simple have to move, and it’d be a sad ending to a beautiful and unique neighborhood.

    Owner of Self Edge (Valencia @ 18th)

  41. My views have just been swayed, i’m no longer neutral on this.
    We don’t need American Apparel here in the Mission District.
    As a resident of the Mission for ten years and a business owner for three years, my worst nightmare is Valencia looking like Upper Haight. I’d plain and simple have to move, and it’d be a sad ending to a beautiful and unique neighborhood.

    Owner of Self Edge (Valencia @ 18th)

  42. Are you really gonna use this forum to talk about my campaign finace issues?

    You must be desperate to find something to talk about other then the fact that American Apparel will not be opening a store on Valencia Street.

    How about we talk about the Mission Merchants Association is a cartel of landlords looking to sell out to the highest bidder?

    How about we talk of doing actual good things with our energy instead of squandering it fighting amongst ourselves?

    Valencia Street will never have a chain store on it. Period. End of discussion. I didn’t even really try and got 600 or so people to city hall. We are organized and powerful. And like the MMA, there are many of us that own property.

    This is now off the table. Don’t waste our time adn yours trying to do anything like this ever again. You will fail like a dog in the dirt.

    If you don’t like Valencia street, just say so. I’ll buy your building. You can go invest in Concord in a Nike store or something.

    Just let me know, we’ll buy you out. Now that you see that it is impossible to put chain stores here, a few MMA people will stop warehouseing storefronts now that it’s obvious your never gonna get that Starbucks money.

    We all know DOZENS of people who will rent storefronts on Valencia. Currently, there are 28 empty storefronts. All of whom have been approached by local, independant shops. They’re waiting for the big money. Maybe now that they see it’s never comming, they’ll rent the shops. That would be nice.

    This ain’t Atlantic City, guys. The time of the bubble economy has ended. We got a new President, we got a new fresh start. Valencia is working. It’s fun. Enjoy it. Participate.

    You can’t beat us. Join us. You reap the benifits of the city of Art and Innovation constantly. Contribute to it.

    There are things that are more valuable than money.

    I hope that the next civic function that we find ourselves on the same side, helping people to either be inspired, fucntional or to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

    If we could take the amount of effort we all just spent on this topic, and channel it to getting art supplies for kids in SF schools, we could probably save a bankrupt school board a cool million dollars. I know it’s all important, but please don’t be shy to ask me and other people who were sucsessful in this massive action to help out with other things that are calibrated to helping, instead of blocking or whatever.


  43. I think the biggest point most people are missing on this when it comes to mom and pop v. chain and the history of the missions’s box stores is that we are now living in a post dot-com bubble SF. Most locals who have been in the city for over 15 years still harbor resentment towards those who moved into the city with their cars, money and disregard for the quaint SF that honestly, is hard to find these days.

  44. I never thought there would be something that would want me to leave this neighborhood until this whole brouhaha with AA. I consider myself a Democrat, decidedly left of center, but I am just appalled at the stupidity, arrogance, and self-centeredness of the so-called concerned merchants and citizens of the Mission and their borderline hateful crusade to keep AA out. Read the posts by Dema and the others, and all you keep seeing is the word ‘I’. “I don’t want . . . “, “I think . . . . “. It’s all about what they want. Well no crap they’re going to say that – they are would be competitors! They’re only out for themselves, not the quality of the neighborhood. And the total hubris of the vocal minority is just astounding – who are they to say what the neighborhood should be? And finally, this is not a zero sum game, folks. I know plenty of people who come to the Mission to party, but definitely not to shop. What are your choices? Basically stores like Dema with overpriced and ugly crap. If you get people here to shop (and yes, people do buy things at chains), then they will also linger and shop and eat at other local places. Are you people so socialist that you have a problem with money being made in this neighborhood?

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