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July 11, 2014
Arthur Beren Sneakers, Longtime Union Sq. Fixture, Closing
The Italian sneakers, on sale for $520 a pair, will quickly be gone. As will the Zur Venetian loafers, the Thierry Rabotin slip-ons, and the Kickstart Women’s Bootie.
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After practically 30 years at 222 Stockton St.and extra on Geary Avenue, Arthur Beren Sneakers, considered one of Union Square’s final remaining independent local shops, is closing.
Store owner David Beren, who took the enterprise over from his father, Arthur, says rising rents and declining sales have squeezed the revenue out of a enterprise he loves, however which not seems to have a spot in a retail district dominated by luxurious chains like Chanel, Gucci and Dior.
“It’s a changing world we are in, and we have to simply accept it — reluctantly,” Beren stated. “If that’s the way in which it goes in Union Sq.that’s the way it goes. We will be a part of what’s gone.”
The transfer comes after a five-12 months run-up in rents and valuations that has turned Union Sq. into a luxury retail heart with the same brands that dot international wealth centers like Hong Kong, London and New York City. Rents for prime space in Union Square have tripled to a mean of $650 a square foot. Investors are shelling out well over $1,000 a square foot to buy retail buildings.
However some worry that the inflow of capital has come with a cost: the vanishing local, independent businesses that for many years have distinguished Union Sq. from different city shopping areas. One native Union Square mainstay, Shreve & Co.was priced out of the building that bears its identify at 200 Put up St. and forced to find a new residence. The fabric retailer Britex at 146 Geary St. is working to stay in its space after its landlord filed an utility with the city to transform the upper floors of the constructing to workplace area.
Laura Tinetti, a retail broker with JLL, stated landlords’ rent expectations are such that solely a choose group of tenants can afford them. The result is that some retail spaces are staying vacant longer and tenants are slower to make commitments.
“There is still demand for house, however we’re seeing it taken up by the jewelers of the world — the Cartiers, the Harry Winstons — that pays the high-water rents,” said Tinetti. “There are plenty of active retailers who desire a flagship in San Francisco, however they are hesitant to tug the trigger where rents are.”
Beren’s constructing is owned by the Town and Country Membership, a women’s social organization. The group raised Beren’s rent three years in the past by 50 p.c. David Beren stated that he seemed round at different choices in Union Sq. and on Fillmore Road but hasn’t discovered anything that works and is economically feasible.
“I don’t blame the Town and Country Membership,” he stated. “They have a constructing that’s worth some huge cash, and they’ll get the rent they are asking for. We negotiated and they even gave us a bit bit of a break three years in the past, but it was nonetheless too much. The economics of it don’t work for us. When your expenses go up and your income drops, it’s not an excellent mixture.”
Along with lofty rents and the increasing market share of salvatore ferragamo flats online on-line retailers, Union Sq. — in particular Stockton Road — has been under siege by the messy Central Subway construction project that began during President Obama’s first time period and is scheduled to continue effectively into the next administration.
“We tolerated the construction for therefore lengthy and have gone through the worst of it,” mentioned Beren. “But it has been very disruptive.”
On Thursday, longtime clients like Joy Drinker of Saratoga and Jane Golden of San Leandro stopped by the shop to say goodbye and stock up on footwear. For Golden, retired director of curriculum for the Pleasanton Unified College District, Arthur Beren is the last purpose to make quarterly pilgrimages to downtown San Francisco.
“I can go get my clothes in Pleasanton. This was the reason to return over. It was the vacation spot,” she mentioned. “This is really not good for San Francisco.”
Beren Footwear moved to its present location in 1988. Earlier than that it was on Geary Road near Union Square. Earlier than that it was primarily based in Oakland and known as Kushins. Arthur Beren began working there while a pupil at UC Berkeley. The senior Beren, now 90 years old still stops in the store on Fridays after lunch at Le Central.
Golden mentioned she went to Kushins with her mom. “You’ll discover a whole lot and a whole bunch of girls throughout the Bay Area who’re just going to be shocked and saddened by the shop closing,” she said.
Extra by J.Ok. Dineen
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Salesman Morgan Von Rueden moved over to Beren 23 years ago from I. Magnin. The 2 Union Sq. stores were opponents — both specialised in Salvatore Ferragamo footwear. He dines together with his Beren clients, attends their children’s weddings and chats with them on the phone on weekends or in the evening.
“They are calling up, ‘What do you have got in my size I’ll have all of it.’” They are shopping for $4,000 or $5,000 or $6,000 right off the highest because they know they don’t seem to be going to buy footwear for a very long time.”
On Thursday, Drinker hugged him on her manner out the door with a number of pairs of latest footwear. “I am so sorry you’re going out of all our lives,” she said. “Everyone has so counted on you for a wide range of types and decisions. And always prime quality.”
J.Okay. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle staff author.