San Francisco has a bit of a conundrum on its hands with business. If you have more than three stores you are considered a “chain store” and can’t open any more stores even if there is a demand for your services. Yet, why is there a starbucks every half mile? Why are there so many Chevron, 76 and Shell stations? Why are there so many 7-11’s?
According to the books, San Francisco wants to keep local businesses at the forefront. So the mom and pop who invested money in a 7-11 to open it up in their neighborhood aren’t considered local businesses, yet myspace, google, apple, microsoft can open offices here while they aren’t San Francisco based businesses? Interesting way of thinking. There was a paint store that wanted to open up in the old Hollywood video store [chain!] on Mission street, but because they were a distributor of Glidden paint they were considered a chain and couldn’t move in. Yet we have a paint store in the Sunset that is the exclusive distributor of Kelly-Moore [chain!] paint, so much so that it’s called, “Kelly-Moore Paint” and that isn’t a problem?
I have at one time had a chance to visit the mother of all chain stores Wal-Mart and I was surprised by what I found there. DEALS! That was over 10 years ago and I’m still wearing the socks that I got for $3 for 6 pairs. In this down turned economy that is “coming back” people need a deal. Mom and Pop who run the small place on the corner can’t give you that. The corner “convenience” [liquor] store that sells a six pack of budweiser for twice as much as your local grocery store [chain!] can’t really compete and you’ll probably notice that there is a lack of corner “convenience” [liquor] stores starting to show up.
There are things that every one of us need. Socks, underwear, gas, food. I don’t really care if it was hand made by underpaid naked virgins in Guatemala [out sourced!]. I just want it to fit and hold up over time. I don’t want to pay $5 for a handmade cupcake made with 70% cacao when I can get 6 for $3 made with Hershey’s [chain!] dark chocolate.
New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg made a trip here recently made a trip to San Francisco and our new interim first Asian American Mayor [we’ll just ignore that Daly City beat us to the punch on that, because Filipinos aren’t the same kind of Asian we’re talking about] Ed Lee gave Mr. Bloomberg a Cable Car bell and locally made, organic hot dogs. Hot dogs? I haven’t seen a cow or a pig in San Francisco since I last went to the zoo. What about our locally made Boudin sourdough bread [chain!]? Or our crab? I have never heard one person say, “Damn I want me a San Francisco Hot Dog!” That’s because we’re San Francisco! We aren’t know for our hot dogs. There is the Treasure Island Frank which I can’t find any info on why a big hot dog is associated with Treasure Island, but they are difficult to find nowadays and I doubt that’s what Ed Lee gave Mr. Bloomberg.
I honestly don’t see a problem with chain stores. They bring affordable wares to the masses, employ people, albeit at usually a low wage, but only people willing to take low wages would work at a similar Mom and Pop local business. Daly City is taking away tons of San Francisco dollars because they’ll allow Target and other chain stores that provide deals that you can’t get here in San Francisco, so why not let them go in here and give back to the city that desperately needs the money? Kudos to the Board of Supervisors for loosening the stick up their collective butts for allowing Lowe’s to move into one of the worse parts of town. I never see any of those San Francisco resident employees with a frown on their face.
OK, rant off for now. Time to go back to talking about the things that make San Francisco the greatest place to be. It’s just getting harder to find.