Rising rent moves more shops south

Fillmore and California, Labor Day 2014 | Photograph by Dickie Spritzer

Fillmore and California, Labor Day 2014 | Photograph by Dickie Spritzer

FILLMORE STREET is “the hot retail spot in San Francisco” for fashion and beauty brands, Women’s Wear Daily proclaims, and the rent on commercial storefronts is rising rapidly to reflect the neighborhood’s newfound favor.

This year has already brought Ella Moss and The Kooples to the street, joining dozens of other clothing and beauty boutiques. Soon Rag & Bone will open its new showplace on the prime corner of Fillmore and California. And Rebecca Minkoff is bringing its designs to the former Pure Beauty store at 2124 Fillmore, the only empty storefront on upper Fillmore.

Now two more longtime neighborhood shops are packing up and moving south, where the rent is significantly less expensive.

• Copynet, the printing and graphic design firm that has occupied 2404 California Street for 20 years, will move this month to 2174 Sutter Street — a few doors from Jet Mail, which made a similar move earlier this year.

• Zinc Details, the home furnishings store that has been on Fillmore near Bush Street for 20 years, will move in October three blocks south into the empty National Dollar Store space at 1603 Fillmore, next door to the Boom Boom Room at the Geary
bridge.

The owners of both businesses see fresh opportunities in their new locations, but both acknowledge they were facing big rent increases that made it impossible to maintain their longtime homes.


“The landlord — who’s been a good landlord for 20 years — hinted that our rent would be brought up to market rate,” says Vasilios Kiniris, owner of Zinc Details. “That could be two or three times what we’re paying now.”

Kiniris began considering his options when real estate brokers showed up offering big money if he would sell his lease to a fashion brand hungry for space on what one broker is promoting as “Bleeker Street on the West Coast.”

When Kiniris looked at the empty dollar store, he says he thought it could be “a golden opportunity” to stay in the neighborhood and have more space, rather than less.

“It feels great,” he says. “The proportions are nice, the ceilings are high — and there’s a full basement downstairs.”

Maryam Zadeh, owner of Copynet, also faced a big rent increase when her 20-year lease is up at the end of the year. Two banks wanted the space to install ATM machines.

Her old colleagues at Jet Mail encouraged her to consider a newly renovated space on their increasingly popular stretch of Sutter Street between Steiner and Pierce.

“It’s smaller, but still in the neighborhood,” she says. “Instead of doubling the rent, we’re cutting it in half. And that corridor is coming along. It has a lot of foot traffic, actually.”

She adds: “Things worked out to our benefit.”

Kiniris hopes the same will be true for Zinc Details.

“Fillmore Street is a victim of its own success,” he says. “There are so many lookie-loos coming in. All you’re doing is greeting people. On the weekends, we get hordes of people sitting on the furniture, checking their email. Visually it looks like things are happening, but there’s no sales.”

He adds: “I saw the writing on the wall. We need to separate ourselves.”

Besides, Kiniris says, “There’s already so many good things happening on upper Fillmore. We’re helping revitalize another part of the street. Let’s spread the love.”

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  • Brian

    Very sad. The Fillmore is really losing the character needed for a neighborhood. Living in the neighborhood, there are fewer and fewer business I want and NEED to go to in order to get my daily needs. Two years ago I moved my business to Polk Street for this very reason. While my landlord was great, the rent just did not make it possible to make a living once the lease came due and the rent was clearly going up.

    There are very few business that I as resident of Pac Heights can go to that are not a major faceless corporation to get even a cup of coffee. I love small businesses. I will go to one before I go to franchise. Small business owners open because they have passion for what they do. When you step in and buy from them, you FEEL the love in their services and products.

    Dear landlords, get a clue. Yeah, you may get a ton of money in rent. But it will be short lived. You can’t buy culture or need of what a neighborhood needs. Do the people who live in the area need ANOTHER overpriced clothing boutique or affordable coffee/sandwich shop that I will go to every day.

    I would love to open or move my business back, but it just does not make any financial sense to be a business in the Fillmore.