It was just two weeks ago that Liz Claiborne Holdings began gutting Adobe Books' former home at 3166 16th Street, creating a sense of inevitability around Jack Spade's moving into the neighborhood. The odds seemed stacked against the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association, who found themselves petitioning to sway them against opening the store. However, VCMA's luck has seemed to shift, and now Liz Claiborne has suspended the build out of their latest Jack Spade location.
VCMA's Jefferson McCarley sent us this update on their campaign (highlights in bold):
For months the VCMA has been trying to reach out to Jack Spade. Our invitations to talk have been met with radio silence.
The only exception is that a PR rep wrote to me saying, “The in-house team at Jack Spade is aware that you are interested in speaking with them, and will be in touch soon.” That was May 15th.This is interesting considering what they wrote in their application for non-formula retail status: “When Jack Spade opens a new store it is important to us that we become a part of the neighborhood's fabric… Jack Spade stores operate with a focus on … community.”
So because they refused to come to the table, we began the process of blocking their arrival through a more formal process.5th and Pacific (formerly known as Liz Claiborne), did $1.5 billion in sales last year. And while in their application they distance the sub-brand from the parent company, in the 5&P annual report, the company doesn't even break Jack Spade down into its own category—they are lumped in with the Kate Spade “segment.”
There are three “Spade” brands: Kate, Jack and Kate Spade Saturday, with a total of 91 stores in the US.Total number of 5&P stores? 479.
The VCMA has filed an appeal, which stopped construction yesterday. We are working on a Jurisdiction Request to the Board of Appeals requesting that they be classified as formula retail.There will be a public hearing.
None of us want to be doing this. We are usually working 50 hours a week on our own businesses. Now we have this battle to fight on top of trying to run a small business in San Francisco. We're meeting regularly, after our shops close, because we care about our neighborhood.In a letter dated September 6, 2012, the Planning Department sent a letter to neighborhood organizations which included instructions on how to appeal the Department's decision [on their ruling on Spade's formula retail status]. If we had received letter then, we would have appealed last year.
Why didn't we get this letter? The VCMA is relatively new (compared to the Mission Merchants Association, which was founded in 1909). None of us knew about this list of neighborhood organizations. It's the neighborhood group's responsibility to submit their details to the city to be added to the list. Of course, the neighborhood group has to first find out about the list.Who did get the letter? The Mission Merchants Association. It was addressed “attn: Phil Lessor,” who is a paid consultant of Jack Spade.
We don't have the resources of 5&P. In fact, we're paying for everything out of our own pockets. We don't have the lawyers and professionals that they have, but we have community support. That's what keeps us going.For the people that ask, “What's so wrong with Jack Spade? How different will that store be than other stores already in the Mission?” Maybe not a lot. It might have the same look and feel as some other (independent) high-end clothing stores that are here in the corridor.
What we're fighting is not Jack Spade, specifically. It's a fight against formula retail. When you shop at Jack Spade, most of your money you spend goes to 5&P in New York. When you shop at a locally owned small business, it stays here in the community.If we thought that Jack Spade would be the one and only formula retail store to open up in the corridor, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be working so hard on this. But we think it's the first—not the last. Once JS opens up in this wildlife preserve of small independent local businesses, it sends a powerful message to the rest of Corporate America.
We think residents and visitors alike will prefer West of Pecos, Ritual, Deema's and Glam-a-Rama to Chili's, Starbucks, Banana Republic, and Super Cuts.
Representatives for Jack Spade still refuses to comment on their plans to Uptown Almanac, however, they have pulled all their employment ads for the location, suggesting they preparing to scrap their planned expansion.