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July 12, 2014
Arthur Beren Sneakers, Longtime Union Square Fixture, Closing
The Italian shoes, on sale for $520 a pair, will soon 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 more on Geary Street, Arthur Beren Shoes, one in every of Union Square’s last remaining impartial local shops, is closing.
Store proprietor David Beren, who took the enterprise over from his father, Arthur, says rising rents and declining gross sales have squeezed the revenue out of a business he loves, but which no longer appears to have a spot in a retail district dominated by luxury chains like Chanel, Gucci and Dior.
“It’s a altering world we are in, and we now have to just accept it — reluctantly,” Beren mentioned. “If that’s the best way it goes in Union Sq.that’s the way in which it goes. We shall be a part of what’s gone.”
The transfer comes after a five-year run-up in rents and valuations that has turned Union Sq. right into a luxury retail heart with the same brands that dot global wealth centers like Hong Kong, London and New York Metropolis. Rents for prime area in Union Sq. have tripled to a median of $650 a square foot. Buyers are shelling out effectively over $1,000 a square foot to buy retail buildings.
However some worry that the inflow of capital has come with a price: the vanishing native, impartial companies that for many years have distinguished Union Square from other city shopping areas. One native Union Square mainstay, Shreve & Co.was priced out of salvatore ferragamo luxor wallet the building that bears its identify at 200 Post St. and compelled to find a brand new dwelling. The fabric store Britex at 146 Geary St. is working to stay in its space after its landlord filed an application with the city to convert the higher floors of the constructing to workplace space.
Laura Tinetti, a retail broker with JLL, stated landlords’ rent expectations are such that solely a select group of tenants can afford them. The result is that some retail areas are staying vacant longer and tenants are slower to make commitments.
“There is still demand for space, 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 loads of active retailers who need a flagship in San Francisco, however they are hesitant to pull the set off where rents are.”
Beren’s constructing is owned by the Town and Country Membership, a women’s social group. The group raised Beren’s rent three years ago by 50 p.c. David Beren mentioned that he regarded around at other choices in Union Square and on Fillmore Road however hasn’t found something that works and is economically feasible.
“I don’t blame the City and Nation Membership,” he stated. “They have a building that is value some huge cash, and they’ll get the rent they are asking for. We negotiated and so they even gave us just a little little bit of a break three years in the past, but it was nonetheless so much. The economics of it don’t work for us. When your expenses go up and your earnings drops, it’s not a very good mixture.”
In addition to lofty rents and the rising market share of online retailers, Union Square — particularly Stockton Road — has been beneath siege by the messy Central Subway building mission that began during President Obama’s first time period and is scheduled to continue well into the following administration.
“We tolerated the development for so long and have gone by 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 inventory up on shoes. For Golden, retired director of curriculum for the Pleasanton Unified School District, Arthur Beren is the final motive to make quarterly pilgrimages to downtown San Francisco.
“I can go get my clothes in Pleasanton. This was the explanation to come back over. It was the vacation spot,” she said. “This is admittedly not good for San Francisco.”
Beren Shoes moved to its present location in 1988. Earlier than that it was on Geary Avenue near Union Sq.. Earlier than that it was primarily based in Oakland and called Kushins. Arthur Beren began working there while a student at UC Berkeley. The senior Beren, now ninety years previous nonetheless stops in the shop on Fridays after lunch at Le Central.
Golden said she went to Kushins together with her mom. “You’ll find a whole bunch and a whole lot of ladies all through the Bay Space who’re simply going to be shocked and saddened by the store closing,” she mentioned.
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Salesman Morgan Von Rueden moved over to Beren 23 years in the past from I. Magnin. The 2 Union Sq. shops had been opponents — each specialized in Salvatore Ferragamo footwear. He dines along with his Beren customers, attends their children’s weddings and chats with them on the telephone on weekends or within the evening.
“They are calling up, ‘What do you could have in my dimension I’ll have it all.’” They are shopping for $four,000 or $5,000 or $6,000 right off the highest because they know they are not going to purchase footwear for a very long time.”
On Thursday, Drinker hugged him on her way out the door with a number of pairs of new shoes. “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 choices. And at all times prime quality.”
J.K. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle employees author.