Jack Spade Reps Accused of Getting Pushy, Pressuring 16th Street Merchants Into Signing Petition

Ahead of this evening's Board of Appeals meeting to re-hear Jack Spade's building permit application that is currently suspended (more on that meeting below), a team of Jack Spade representatives have been going door-to-door, allegedly pressuring businesses to sign the above petition supporting the business.

The petition claims Jack Spade will do a lot of incredible things—reduce homelessness, vandalism, and violence; they even imply the store's opening could help drop the notoriously high murder rate along 16th. However, the petition casts Jack Spade's hopeful location as a long-blighted empty storefront, neglecting to mention that Jack Spade had a 25-year-old vibrant community bookstore evicted to obtain the space.

One 16th Street businessman, who was visited by a salaried Mission District Jack Spade store manager and Mission Merchant's Association President Phil Lesser, who is also a paid consultant of Jack Spade, said when he refused to sign the petition, Lesser became “agitated” and demanded the business at least remain neutral.

Another business that is actively campaigning to stop Jack Spade had a much more jarring interaction:

I got a visit from Dan Lakhman [Director of Marketing and Creative for Jack Spade]. He along with the [Jack Spade's store manager] and [Phil Lesser], and said “you can do this the easy way or the hard way.”

Phil explained that he will turn out support for Jack Spade in droves at the hearing and that he's never lost a case. He then went on to list them, counting on his fingers.

Dan went on to explain that they were going to pursue this, that they would win, and how the community felt about them was not a consideration. 

Dan actually called Jack Spade a “small business.” Ugh. It was maddening.

(Jack Spade still refuses to talk to Uptown Almanac, so we couldn't get their side of this.)

These sort of tactics cast the results of Mission Local's survey of 16th Street business's opinions on the matters in a telling light.  With so many businesses refusing to state their opinion, perhaps Jack Spade's goon squad is having an impact?

If you are interested in going to tonight's Board of Appeals meeting, it begins at 5pm in Room 416 in City Hall.  Kyle Smeallie, one of the organizers of the campaign to stop Jack Spade, had this to say of the importance of tonight's hearing:

The hearing is important because Jack Spade has done everything in its power to avoid it. Simply put, Jack Spade doesn't want to hear from the community. By misrepresenting its corporate structure, Jack Spade convinced the City last year to not consider it formula retail, denying the public the right, granted by City regulations, to have a say in the approval process. The VCMA believes this was an error, and they're concerned about the precedent it will set: If Jack Spade is allowed to sidestep the rules, other chain stores will follow suit, gaming the system to effectively eliminate the public approval process. That's why the VCMA, in its appeal, is supported by organizations like Causa Justa :: Just Cause, PODER, and La Raza Community Resource Center, as well as Supervisors David Campos and John Avalos. They're less concerned about the business implications, but they all recognize the importance of making sure the surrounding community is heard when big business wants in. For those who agree, speaking out at the hearing on Wednesday is essential to making sure the appeal moves forward.

Comments (16)

The powers that be have very long memories. The VCMA members can expect to have their rent tripled.

This whole thing is beginning to border on the surreal and has become more than a bit absurd. Is this location THAT big of a goldmine that Jack Spade needs to fight this hard to move in? I’m not too familiar with the brand but I would hazard a guess that their sort of retail would struggle on 16th. It seems their desires to move in are more ego-driven than profit/brand-driven that this point.

I can see it. Transport corridor (once they move the poor brown people out of the way) near dinning and bars that their target demographic- seems like a great if slightly aspirational fit. But if Hayes Valley can do it….

I suppose I’d rather Jake Spade didn’t move in, but I think its potential impact is being over exaggerated.

Good point on Hayes Valley. I remember when that area was something very different; the pink projects and whatnot. I could see 16th turning into something resembling Hayes and I imagine that will upset more than its fair share of people.

Signing any document that says you don’t have the right to decide what’s in your neighborhood is a very, very poor idea.

Well the America’s Cup was also supposed to bring us ajillions of dollars in new money, and so many jobs. These loose promise by developers are an indicator of fraud.

Make them put up a performance bond. If there is a killing after they move in, they will indemnify the family and police. If there is panhandling, they will accept a $2,000 fine per day.

Have you checked out Americas’ Cup on Embarcadero? Its pretty slick!

Interesting how they slipped in “that is not our right” to oppose any specific business. Jack Spade is on the defensive.

How *dare* Jack Spade attempt to lobby neighboring businesses to its cause. And why else would businesses state no opinion on Jack Spade’s presence besides the fear of the super-scary goon squad of retail store managers?

Also, wasn’t aware that Jack Spade had Adobe evicted. I was under the incorrect impression that the owner of the building could set rent consistent with the law at his or her choosing, and that the owner could also freely choose the next tenant if the current tenant either couldn’t or didn’t want to pay the rent. Learn something new every day on this blog.

I mean, if you bother to read the original article, you’d know the landlord raised the rent by thousands of dollars (above market value) because of the financial leverage a multi-billion dollar corporation was able to afford the landlord.

The same thing is happening to Idol Vintage now. Landlord knows they can get inflated rents from chain retail, so they price out local retailers.

But, presumably some people are cool with unfettered capitalism and throwing those local business plebs to the dogs. To me, it seems like a shitty way to choke out a neighborhood’s character.

I did read the article. You just don’t support your spin on the article–which you also wrote–so I’m not buying. From prior reporting, the landlord was raising the rent on Adobe ($6,000: http://missionlocal.org/2012/05/adobe-books-in-danger-of-closing/) and demanding improvements to the space in early 2012–well before even you say Jack Spade became involved. The landlord wanted at least market rate. That the rent was raised to $8,000 10 months later actually suggests that the landlords actions were *not* “backed by Jack Spade,” whatever that means. If a multi-billion dollar-backed corporation were supporting an eviction by paying well-above market-rate rents, wouldn’t the rent go up higher than $2,000/month? Of course it would. At best, the timeline only shows that the landlord was negotiating with Adobe and other prospective tenants and he or she saw that the space could be rented for more than $6,000 (what Adobe would pay); it could be rented for $8,000 (what Jack Spade would pay). Given the significant up-tick in prices and rents throughout the city in the last couple of years, I would bet that the $8,000/mo is actually market rate, or really close to it, for this part of the hood. That a tenant was able to afford a higher rent than Adobe is simply not surprising. It doesn’t need to be explained by corporation fear-mongering.

Speaking of, how would Idol Vintage be replaced by formula retail? There is a formula retail ban in the hood; you know this, Kevin. The landlord is raising rents because he or she feels she can get higher rents from non-formula retail–just like Adobe’s landlord did. And if you’re going to say Jack Spade is formula retail, please note that, as the Planning Commission appears to have ruled, it is not, despite its connection to Liz Claiborne. Jack Spade’s situation appears to be a rather rare instance of this sort of store moving in, and I doubt there are others like it who are waiting to move into Idol’s spot.

And I’m not “cool with unfettered capitalism” or trashing these local businesses. I support the formula retail ban. I’ve lived right off Valencia for the past 5 years. If people think it should be amended to insure that stores like Jack Spade can’t come in, then lobby your Supe for an amendment, or propose one for the ballot. But the law is behind Jack Spade, and I think it’s disingenuous for people to lambast Jack Spade for conducting itself in a perfectly normal, rational, and legal manner. I also don’t think stores, no matter how local, should get a pass on how they conduct their business or be crowned the gatekeepers of our city’s future. I believe a *fettered* market can insure the best future, notwithstanding the vagaries of our monied overlords.

KevMo: Yup, well said. Adobe was forced out, no two ways about it.

Gross. I really hope the neighborhood is able to keep Jack Spade out. Fucking chainstore bullshit.

Remember folks, chain stores = BAD BAD BAD.

Influx of Caucasian hipster transplants who pay rent by working at large corporations and drive up housing costs for working families and the poor, new bars, and $10 Mac and cheese = “The Mish’.”

Jack Spade round II is at the Appeals Board tonight.

Last hearing we learned there is a long and short form application to a company to open a store, only small companies are allowed to do the short form.

Last hearing the Appeals Board decided that if a 100 store company lies and fills out the short form application, that its almost impossible that the Appeals Board will review if the long or short form was needed. Their reasoning was that based on either form, there will be an appeal, and it was going to delay Jack Spade if they had to go back and fill out the short form.

What the members said doesn’t look good for the neighborhood.

Mission Local says Spade Store is . is a go