Capitalism

Pop-up Sidewalk Check Cashing Station Graces Bustling Valencia Street Corner

In case you want to contribute to Nigeria's GDP while touching up your fading summer tan, Western Union now has an open-air “financial services” station at the corner of 16th and Mission.  MrEricSir reports:

Next time you’re falling victim to a scam on Craigslist, you can transfer the earnings of your fraudulent check via Western Union without entering an enclosed space. Thanks to San Francisco’s love/hate relationship with the great outdoors, we now have a sidewalk kiosk for money transfers.

Eric has some choice thoughts as to what we might expect next (fraudulent check food truck! Parklet!). Personally, I'm putting my money down on a combination Western Union/slow-roasted coffee bar.

I am a Corporate Sellout

I'm sure you've already heard that the culty raw food chain and homebase of awkward dancers Cafe Gratitude/Gracias Madre announced they are being sued out of existence.  But amidst all the celebratory press coverage, the fact Gracias Madre is, somewhat ironically, already in talks to sell to a “big corporation” fell off the radar.  Laura Beck of Vegansaurus (whose coverage is among the best around) reports:

Just heard from another (current) employee who said that they’re for sure being sold and that so is Gracias Madre, and it looks like there might already be a buyer for Gracias Madre, and it’s a big corporation. They didn’t tell the employees who the big corporation is (we’re thinking of starting the rumor that it’s McDonald’s! You in!?), but all Café Gratitude employees and central kitchen employees are getting fired. Super sad and shitty.

My money is on Qdoba Mexican Grill.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering, their commercial kitchen on 14th at Folsom is on the market for bargain price of 1.895 MILLION DOLLARS)

[photo by noppechan]

OccupySF REJECTS Mayor Lee's Attempts to Move the Camp to Fenced-in 16th & Mission Ghetto

Back in last Wednesday's otherwise forgettable pre-Thanksgiving edition of the Chronicle, columnists Matier & Ross spread word about the city's plan to relocate the downtown camp to an abandoned trailer park on Mission at 16th.

The plan was simple: appease downtown businesses and building owners—whose patience with the protest is growing increasingly thin—by relocating the encampment to the 'already blighted' Mission District.  The City offered up the old Phoenix Continuation High School site, which looks and smells a lot more like a concentration camp than the West Coast stomping ground of American's premiere financial institutions, free-of-rent for the next 7 months.  In the politician's minds, the offer was a goldmine for the protest, ludicrously thinking the 16th and Mission location would better help the movement deal with the homeless and opportunistic drug users who “are detracting from their message.”

Of course, OccupySF wasn't too thrilled with the offer:

Getting the self-proclaimed leaderless group to agree, however, may be impossible.

Plus, says Occupy member Richard Kreidler - who has been in on the talks at the mayor's office - activists suspect that the city is “looking for a place that will be out of sight, out of mind.”

Well, last night OccupySF officially rejected the ploy, as reports Mission Local:

The general assembly, attended by about 75 members, was called after Mohammed Nuru, interim director of the Department of Public Works, handed the group a “facility license agreement” earlier on Tuesday for the site at 1950 Mission St. The agreement, which is good until June 30, 2012, includes a list of 17 provisions, including no pets, no minors and no cooking.

Some members declined to relocate to the Mission District site because they did not like some of the provisions; others did not want to be told what to do by the city, and some objected because of hygiene issues associated with the proposed site.

“We are not going to take the crumbs the city is giving us,” said occupier Meagan Malony, adding that they done that for too long. “We want the five-course meal.”

It remains to be seen if the city will just employ violence to get their way.  But in the meantime, it appears some have gone ahead and just claimed the site for the movement:

New Mission Bar Declares Shuffleboard Should Cost Money

No one here is going to argue that bars are charities, but there have always been a few accepted customs in Mission bartending: PBR doesn't cost more than two bucks, pours should always be strong, and shuffleboard is a pickup game to be enjoyed by anyone willing to signup for the next round.  It's these simple rules that have ensured the neighborhood remained a safe haven for broke, drunk slobs for years.

Well, the recently-opened sports bar/shrine to delicious Pittsburgh-style gluttony, Giordano Bros., has broken the tradition, not only charging Medjool prices for mediocre beer, but by imposing a fee for a few rounds of shuffleboard.  Heresy!

I probably shouldn't be too pissed—it's not like anyone with a shred of dignity and a basic appreciation for decor would ever go here anyway.  But it's a slippery slope, my friends.  Next thing you know, bars will be asking us to pay for pool.

Latest Scoutmob Deal Means Dudes in Expensive Suits Parking Their BMWs in El Metate's Bus Stop to Get a Free Burrito

Basically, everyone and their 3 Series is piling into El Metate for a free burrito this afternoon, parking right in the bus stop if need be.  Which is probably fine, since it's not like Muni makes much use outta it.

Anyway, if you were planning on turning your $80/month investment in dropped calls into a free lunch, be warned that the line was creeping way down the block by the time I got the hell out of there.

Pabst Debuts Stylish New Packaging in an Effort to Fool You Into Thinking You're Drinking Something Other Than Cheap Swill

The cans remain the same, the beer still tastes like Wednesday night at Bender's, and a twelve continues to cost a buck more than high life at the local bodega.  Is the packaging refresh enough to stem the tide of Tecate ubiquity in the Mission? (History says probably not)

The Local Bookstore is Not Dead

A strange and curious thing happened the other week: the long-shuttered Wizard Smoke Shop space on 24th at Treat suddenly sprang back to life as Alleycat Books.  The signage was nonchalantly covered in a bright green paint, with the word “BOOKS” bluntly scrawled across the sign without any regard for design or kerning.  A stray construction barricade was repurposed as a hasty sandwich board and the yellowing bed sheets that obscured the room behind the windows for years was removed, revealing the new bookstore.

How could anyone consider even opening one of these relics anymore?  Hadn't bookstores gone the way of the record shop and movie rental store?

Turns out “The Death of The Bookstore”—at least, local bookstores—is little more than a myth.

An employee at Alleycat (which isn't officially opening until December) says Valencia's Dog Eared Books is admist their most profitable year ever.  They explain that as Border's and other national literature retailers retreat from San Francisco, the chain's former customer base have been flocking to local shops such as Dog Eared.  So the shop's owners decided to open a larger, sister shop (their fourth in San Francisco), choosing 24th because “it resembles the way Valencia Street looked 10 years ago.”

Unlike Dog Eared, Alleycat has a giant event space “that will eventually house a ping pong table, gallery, and possibly chess tables.”

As for prices, there was a copy of The Last Temptation of Christ on sale for four bucks, which I didn't buy, if any of you are interested in picking up some cheap Biblical fan fiction.

Bi-Rite Market Makes More Money Than Your Startup

Bi-Rite and their new weekend bouncer.

San Francisco Magazine, a 7x7 for people who read good, published a gushing review of Bi-Rite Market's business model.  Everything in there makes it sound great: owner Sam Mogannam is hands-on and willing to jump in to do menial work, he'll financially bail out his suppliers when they hit rough patches, he closely observes customer demand to tweak the product offering, and the market is uncompromising on the quality of their goods.  However, the real kicker is business has grown by roughly $1 million/year since it opened, with sales of $13.8 million in 2010, eight times the sales per square foot of a Safeway.

Business aside, the best part of the entire article was its brief focus on Sam's early days at Bi-Rite, prior to owning and operating it:

When Mogannam was 15 years old, the market was owned by his father and uncle. The Mission district hadn’t yet been discovered by a generation of tattooed 25-year-olds happy to stand in line for a $3 latte. Just up the street, Mission Dolores Park was popular with unemployed men who spent their days drinking fortified wine, some of which they bought at Bi-Rite. Though he was not yet old enough to drink, in 1983 Mogannam asked his father if he could remerchandise the wine department. He got rid of the Night Train Express, MD 20/20, and Ripple, and on the advice of the store’s wine reps brought in their strongest sellers—Sebastiani, Robert Mondavi, and Beaulieu Vineyard. The drunks found someplace else to shop, and Bi-Rite’s wine sales soared.

On that note, the other day I was sitting in the park near the balding wino casually known as “the Hunter S. Thompson of Dolores” (as he's always drunk, can be generally found yelling like a lunatic, and consistently dons a white bucket hat) and he was doing his usual wasted stumble and scream around the park.  A passing girl, clearly struck with disbelieve that this man can afford to be drunk again, let out a big sigh and scolds, “I want to know who your wine supplier is.  Who the hell is giving this to you, because you sure as fuck cannot afford it yourself?”

The man stood there erect for a view seconds, his head cocked to the side as he desperately tried to focus his vision.  “I just steal it from Bi-Rite!” (Two seconds pause) “Wait, are you a cop?!”

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