Jack Spade tries to sneak into a beloved Mission spot, triggering a community backlash

Pub date August 7, 2013
WriterParker Yesko
SectionPolitics Blog

The Stop Jack Spade Coalition is throwing an impromptu fundraiser tonight (Wed/7) at the Make-Out Room to help support local business and oppose chain store blight in the Mission.

Jack Spade, an upscale men’s clothing chain owned by Liz Claiborne, has plans to set up shop at 3166 16th Street, once home to Adobe Bookstore. The community bookseller of 25 years moved south to 24th Street in June, having been ousted from the space by two consecutive rent hikes. The second time, Adobe General Manager Chris Rolls tells us, “the landlord rejected continuation of the lease, which was outrageously expensive and, for this neighborhood, a bit alarming.”

Opponents of the deal say the men’s clothing retailer signed a $12,000 per month agreement on the storefront shortly after Adobe failed to meet its landlord’s exorbitant demands. (Note: A Jack Spade representative contacted the Guardian after this story was published to say this figure was “exaggerated,” but would not disclose any other financial details.)

Jack Spade has gotten this far by failing to apply for a conditional use permit, a pesky little measure imposed by voters in 2006 to thwart corporations chomping at the bit to turn San Francisco neighborhoods into sanitized strip malls.

Turns out Jack Spade is a subsidiary of one such corporation, Liz Claiborne, a fact downplayed in the chain’s original application to the Planning Commission. Even a modest 10 storefronts nationwide, sadly, doesn’t confer small business cred on a menswear line owned by a company with a $2.88 billion market capitalization.

Conveniently, the Jack Spade label has just one too few stores to be formally defined as “formula retail” by Proposition G.  But the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association has been hot on the case, circulating a petition that Jack Spade play by the rules of other big businesses and submit to a public hearing anyway.

A similar effort was successful in preventing an American Apparel store from opening just up the street in 2009 and in slowing the insatiable gentrification that has steamrolled local culture in many other once-unique and affordable cities.

Tonight’s event will feature live music and stand up comedy.  Chicken John Rinaldi promises to host an auction and “talks about what we can do to stop this bullshit.” Doors open at 7pm and $5-$15 will be collected at the door, with proceeds to benefit the campaign for a public hearing next week.