American Apparel Speaks

Last week we contacted American Apparel asking for their comments on the controversy, and the company responded with an open letter to the residents of the Mission. The letter talks about company history, business practices and intentions here in the neighborhood. Note that they preface everything with, “[I]f the community doesn’t want us there, we have no intention of forcing our way in.”

An excerpt:

Our first store was in Echo Park, a small artsy district of Los Angeles, which is a lot like the Mission. Since we opened the store in 2003, the neighborhood has flourished with new independent businesses. The City pays closer attention to the area, keeping it cleaner and safer than it ever was before without denting its original charm and flavor. Our store is a permanent fixture in the community now, just as much as Burrito King and the infamous tranny hairdressers are. Not every location is like Echo Park or Valencia St., but for the ones that are, we’re perfectionists about getting right.

So how can they get it right?

Statement in its entirety after the jump:

You may have heard by now that American Apparel is interested in moving into 988 Valencia St. Some people love the idea, and some people don’t. We’re writing this because we’d like the residents of the area to have a chance to learn a bit about our company before they make their decision. What we hope you’ll find is that American Apparel is a different kind of company. We’re asking  that you give it a moment to see if we’re a good fit for the space. Because at the end of the day if the community doesn’t want us there, we have no intention of forcing our way in.

Our first store was in Echo Park, a small artsy district of Los Angeles, which is a lot like the Mission. Since we opened the store in 2003, the neighborhood has flourished with new independent businesses. The City pays closer attention to the area, keeping it cleaner and safer than it ever was before without denting its original charm and flavor. Our store is a permanent fixture in the community now, just as much as Burrito King and the infamous tranny hairdressers are. Not every location is like Echo Park or Valencia St., but for the ones that are, we’re perfectionists about getting right. So, as it happened when we chose to open in Echo Park nearly six years ago, we hope to become part of the Valencia St. landscape as well.

American Apparel is committed to the community, to ethics, and to leveraging art, design and technology to be the best we can be. We also pay our employees fairly, provide medical benefits, and frequently speak out on political issues that are important to us. For that reason, we respect the fact that your community activists are unsure about us moving into the neighborhood. We don’t like the mall-ification of America any more than you. Nobody wants a TJ Maxx opened next to their house. But that has never been what American Apparel is about. When we design our stores, we don’t do it with a formula. Every store is designed around the  neighborhood it belongs to. Every garment of clothing we sell was designed and crafted in downtown Los Angeles in our sweatshop-free factory.  To that point, we’re also one of the few remaining apparel manufacturers completely based in California. We recently went public so thousands of our employees are shareholders, and so we could continue to improve our business model.

Bottom line, aside from bringing more jobs and customers, we truly think we can bring a positive element to the neighborhood. At the very least, it will be a local spot for you to get really good basics, and you can’t argue with that.

If anyone wants information about our plans for the space or more reading on American Apparel you can call Ryan at our factory @ (213) 488 0226 ext.1676, or stop by our stores on Haight St., Union St. or Union Sq. and they’ll tell you what American Apparel stands for. You can also email us at ryanh@americanapparel.net

Thanks for your time.

87 Responses to “American Apparel Speaks”

  1. paulie says:

    At the very least, they’re paying attention to all of the issues around their opening here. There’s a level of accountability now too. It’s nice to see that they’re not just trying to muscle their way into the location which I’m sure is pretty easily done for a supposed ‘big box’ retailer.

    I’d get it if it was The Gap who doesn’t give a crap about their environment when they move in or a Starbucks who would be competing with the cafes and coffee shops in the area (though beating Ritual wouldn’t happen for me). Good to see a rational response from their side though.

  2. Tyler says:

    Alright, they sold me on it. Let em move in already!

  3. jono says:

    That’s some shit right there if they think They cleaned up Echo Park…

  4. daver says:

    who cares. i live 2 blocks from the proposed location. Move in I need underwear…

  5. Drew says:

    Yay, new place to buy blank shirts for screenies!

  6. olu says:

    there’s already a perfectly good place to buy blank shirts w/ ironic/hipster iron-ons… its right next to Dog Eared.

  7. philgreen says:

    Why all the fuss? Do people love the discount glass company that much?

  8. zinzin says:

    that’s a solid and well thought out letter.

    be interesting to see if it has any effect, or if the “struggle” will prevail, or what.

    thing i am thinking about most now is :

    “would anyone care if they went in on Mission Street?”
    “why didnt Stephen Elliott protest the AT&T store, one block away ON MISSION STREET?”
    “what does all this mean, culturally, in the hood?”

    thanks Allan for reaching out to AA. very…uh…journalistic.

  9. Joe Martin says:

    I thought that space was going to be used for what we really need: “Medjool Too”.

  10. philgreen says:

    The only acceptable business in that location is an annex for The Rapy!

  11. Katie Ann says:

    Even though I am 87% don’t care, THIS IS NOT LA.

  12. SFDoggy says:

    I really don’t see how AA is going to change the character of the neighborhood or adversely affect the other businesses. Instead it will just clean up a rather unsightly store front and providing a new shopping option for residents.

    Also, just because AA comes in does not mean that we have to let in every other formula retail store. If Walmart wants to open up, we can still protest that.

  13. How can we compare the Mission to SoCaL? says:

    Please do not buy into this Public Relations semi-personalized corporate letter.

    Of course it sounds, “solid and well thought out.” They have a person who’s job it is to address criticism and make things sound like this corporation is your friend. That’s the person’s f-ing career. “Public Relations” aka Lying..

    “American Apparel is committed to the community, to ethics, and to leveraging art, design and technology to be the best we can be.”

    Why would a corporation be commited to any of these things? Commited to Ethics? Dov Chomney is commited to ethics??!?
    Dov Charney has been subject to five sexual harassment lawsuits.

    American Apparel is a known union buster. Why? To make sure workers don’t have job security. The garment factory workers don’t get f-ed as bad as your typical sweatshop but the retail workers get shit on.

    The biggest reason to oppose American Apparel there is because IT WILL open the doors to more chain stores.

    Artists Television Access(ATA) which has been next door for 25 years was bought by a slumlord a few years ago who is very likely to look for American Apparel type bidders and kick ATA out.

    American Apparel plays their music really fucking loud. Do you think American Apparel is going to soundproof their store so that films can be shown next door? As part of their, commitment to “leveraging art, design and technology to be the best we can be.”

    ATA is one of the coolest things the mission has. It’s an all volunteer run nonprofit that is a space for local artists to show their work. ANYONE can show their work there. I’ve seen so much great work there.

  14. shawn says:

    Hey, I work for American Apparel. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to send them to shawn(at)americanapparel.net. I’d be happy to answer them. Believe me when I say that we have no intention of being an inaccessible, faceless store.

  15. Callie says:

    who gave that crazy homeless guy a computer?

  16. Callie says:

    who gave the crazy homeless guy a computer?

  17. [...] This raging economic storm, however, doesn’t seem to affect American Apparel, which apparently remains determined to open a store at 988 Valencia Street. Today, Mission Mission’s Allan Hough’s inquiry garnered a response from AA, which you can read here on the Mission Mission website. [...]

  18. Jane Cho says:

    SFDoggy – I didn’t even think of that point, but it’s definitely valid. Can’t we just keep protesting whenever a bad store wants to come in? Everyone keeps saying that they have nothing against american apparel per se, but what it will bring. I’m just tired of all these fliers. Can we bring back Gavin? He gave us something else to talk about.

    For the record, I don’t think hypothetical high volume music playing is a reason to keep someone from leasing a place. I’d never find a place to live if it was.

  19. Kaufman says:

    How many business owners are actually against this? My bet is that a fair amount of them also support an increase in traffic. I don’t buy from American Apparel since I mainly shop thrift, but I do not agree with this campaign. I’m not going to show up to one of these meetings because I really don’t care to advocate for a company, but this whole movement seems really misguided.

    It sounds like 10 business owners got together like a bunch of thugs and decided what the residents of the Mission are ALLOWED to have on THEIR street.

  20. br says:

    AA sucks. Their advertising sucks, their sexually harassing pig of a CEO sucks, their clothes suck, and their bullshit attitude sucks. This letter is self-congratulating insincere bullshit. Fuck AA – stay out of the Mission.

  21. meave says:

    There are so many national chains on Mission Street alone that are so much more terrible than American Apparel — are any of them as upsetting to you big-fuss-makers as AA? We counted them yesterday on the 49: Sprint, Cingular, Metro PCS, AT&T, Radio Shack, Sketchers, Safeway, Big Lots, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Burger King, Ritmo Latino, Walgreens, Blockbuster, Bank of America, Bank of the West, US Bank, Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual (soon to be Chase), EB Games, Ga Ime Stop, I know I’m leaving some out but I can’t remember any more right now. The point: the absence of Gaps/Starbuckses/Wal-Marts/whatever-chain-symbolizes-evil-to-you does not mean the Mission is pure. Christ almighty.

    I’d like to know exactly what Mission you’re talking about when you say you want to keep AA out of “the Mission.” Do you mean Valencia Street, with the new clothes stores and the Curiosity Shoppe and that Victorian childrens’ toy store and eighty-five cafes? Or Mission Street, home of the Lucky Pork Store and CHECK CASHING PAYROLL ADVANCE and the $0.99 Mission Discount Center? Are you worried AA is going to put Sheikk or Fashion Emporium out of business? No, my friends in class and color, no you are not. Because that isn’t a risk. The people who shop at the new-clothing stores on Mission are not the ones who shop at the new-clothing stores on Valencia.

    Those are the same people who, after a hard day of shopping at American Apparel AND MOST LIKELY OTHER PLACES THEY WANDER INTO, will eat at the neighborhood restaurants you like, because they share our tastes and budgets, and that means more money for locals of all classes. AA can afford the rent, and will most likely be profitable, and will bring more foot traffic to the neighborhood, which will benefit lots of other businesses too.

  22. Joe Martin says:

    @br which McDonald’s do you like more: The one on 16th or the one on 24th? I prefer the one on 16th because it is right by the Burger King so I can get a Filet-O-Fish but then get Burger King fries to go with it! So good.

  23. Will says:

    What local businesses are against American Apparel? Well, basically all of them:

    * 826 Valencia Pirate Supply Store
    * Ads Hats
    * Amnesia Bar
    * Aquarius Records
    * ATA: Artists’ Television Access
    * Back to the Picture
    * Bender’s
    * Borderlands Books
    * Candy Store Collective
    * Curiosity Shoppe
    * Dema
    * Dog Eared Books
    * Encantada
    * Faye’s Video & Espresso Bar
    * Fazal Majid
    * Four Barrel Coffee
    * Good Vibes
    * Herbivore
    * Latin American Club
    * Little Otsu
    * Lost Weekend Video
    * McSweeney’s
    * Paxton Gate
    * Pirate Cat Radio
    * Ritual Roasters
    * Room 4
    * The Freewheel Bike Shop
    * The Makeout Room
    * The Rumpus
    * Therapy
    * X-21

    Don’t listen to their crap about cleaning up Echo Park. American Apparel is going to clean up the Mission? That makes no sense. What did they do for the Haight? Sell expensive T-shirts to tourists, that’s about it. The money they make leaves San Francisco. When they contract with other businesses they aren’t going to do business with other San Francisco businesses, they’ll get everything done in LA. T-shirt companies don’t clean up neighborhoods, people with brooms do.

    The only people who will benefit from having an American Apparel on Valencia is their corporate HQ in LA and maybe LA itself. Let’s support local businesses. Let’s not make Valencia Street into another Haight. The whole neighborhood and the whole city benefits from having a local business, and even more when they make it big. Places live Levi’s, the GAP, Ben Davis give back to the city and they make us proud.

    American Apparel is about as LA as it gets. Don’t be a sucker. Remember what made this city great and bring it back again. I was born here and I’ve lived here nearly my whole life and I’ve lived in this neighborhood for over 15 years. History and economics and simple pride of place = keep it local. Tourists welcome, carpet baggers are not.

  24. Allan Hough says:

    Basically all of them? I bet there are probably close to 1000 businesses in the neighborhood. That bulletpointed list should be a bit longer.

  25. Katie Ann says:

    Let’s just tell them to move it to Mission Street.

  26. Mark P says:

    ‘History and economics and simple pride of place = keep it local. Tourists welcome, carpet baggers are not.’

    How about instead of finger pointing we keep liberal in what we accept and conservative in what we produce.

  27. Aaron says:

    Up with socialism, down with free market.

    If a business owner wants to lease his property legally to a business to open a clothing store, it should be allowed. Unless you don’t believe in a free market. If you believe in socialist ideals and burdensome, unequal government interference in commerce then you want to ban AA and other “chain stores”. Why does the Pirate Supply Store have the right to sell eyepatches but AA not have the right to sell tank tops? Unequal treatment by regulation-happy anti-business governments is bad for everyone.
    We’re smart enough to decide for ourselves where we want to shop, I don’t need the “community” making my decsion for me.

  28. johnny0 says:

    Here’s a hell of a hypothetical — what if AA wanted to kick out Medjool? Which is worse?

  29. meave says:

    Will, you’ve lived in the Mission for 15 years? Then I hold you partially responsible for the shitty stores that have opened between 1993 and 2007 (when I moved here from the Haight). What is it about American Apparel in particular that has you so up in arms? Were all the others somehow less objectionable? And if we are going to split hairs, X-21 (for example) sells clothes made in foreign countries, most likely in sweatshops. American Apparel at least keeps its factory in California, and obeys the labor laws.

    I just don’t understand everyone so much happier to let another storefront sit empty than allow one retailer to pay the rent and fill it. No one wins with empty retail space. Further, consider the geography of the Mission vs. the Haight: Valencia will not become Haight Street, that is ridiculous nonsense. What’s more, do not turn your nose up at tourist dollars; they provide a significant amount of the city’s income and we need them, especially now when we are broke.

    No one would be arguing this much over a Bebe or Abercrombie or something horrible like that. BUT AA is a place some of us residents would shop, and it is not a terrible chain to have, esp. compared to the many awful ones already around, and it fits pretty well with that part of Valencia, too. UGH.

  30. Kyle Bolton says:

    “We’re smart enough to decide for ourselves where we want to shop, I don’t need the ‘community’ making my decsion for me.”

    My sentiments for me. Don’t shop there if you have a problem. That’s how an economy is supposed to work. They’re not counting Mission Street or even bothering to look over there. Since when did Mission not qualify?

  31. C. says:

    I spoke with people at some of the shops listed as “Against AA”, and they are not necessarily against AA themselves, but allowed Stephen Elliot or his helpers to post their signs.
    The campaign against AA is extremely misleading (characterizing it as a “big box” store when it has neither the economic model nor the economic impact of a big box store; neglecting the existence of other chains as meave points out; failing to establish any negative impact due specifically to AA, or even any supportable basis in current city law for banning AA; and – worst! – censoring zinzin’s comments from their blog!) .
    Also: ATA has serious issues of support and survival beyond any issue with AA, and its issues will not be resolved by banning AA.
    If we want to support arts and other non-profits in the Mission, we have to do something positive, not ban AA! Perhaps AA and other, existing corporate sites could even be recruited in a positive effort.
    This is a self-serving negative campaign by people who want to identify as “activists”.

  32. zinzin says:

    there’s only one way for anyone -

    whether they’re for responsible, reasonable development (ie AA is not so bad, let em in, business is better than blight)

    or rallying for a selfish, elitist cause (AA is bad, i’m not exactly sure why, my reasoning is slanted and biased…but stephen elliott says it’s bad..and he’s friends with margaret cho…. it’s bad i tell you!)

    to have any effect whatsoever.

    contact the right parties. attend the meeting. be heard. one click and 3 lines of typing…

    it matters y’all.

  33. zinzin says:

    oh and here’s a good one regarding the little blog that could (censor my comments)…

    regarding the blogroll, elliott says “Each (business) has been asked if they’re OK with being listed on the blogroll and they have said yes.”

    that DOESNT MEAN they’re specifically against AA.

    sleazy wannabe politico this guy. half-truth spin all over that blog. in SF, he will go far.

  34. Charles Nibbly says:

    Wow, what a laugh… hearing all y’all bellyaching about the free market, while all the while ultimately saying that you just need to do this why? Because people can’t think (rather shop) for themselves?

    Here’s a few ideas:

    - Fuck the opposition all together. Let them and any other business come in and do fuck-all. Give your loudmouths connected to your brains more credit, you actually might (gasp) not shop there? Lord knows I walk right past AA in the Haight, never stepped a foot in one ever for the matter. As much as you want to say you’re for people, quit trying to protect people from themselves!

    - Gotta have hearings and shit? Fine. Any hearings should be open only to district residents who are tax paying property owners. Renters, STFU and go jump in a lake -your voice really doesn’t matter until you put your money were your mouth is. Call it elitist, but the fact is the tax payers are the ones this kinda stuff directly affects.

    - Continuing with the district tax payer tip, walk into any store you see w/ the opposition signs in the window and ask them this question: “So the sign in the window, did a local property tax payer put that up?” If they say yes, ask to speak to that person to help understand their perspective. If they say no, never shop there again.

    Cheers,

    Chuck
    A Mission district resident who really lives here.

  35. zinzin says:

    Chuck…I….I…I’m speechless. can i buy you a drink?

    another note on the hearings: make em in the evening so people with jobs & lives can attend.

  36. Willy says:

    This AA nonsense is a major distraction. The real villain on Valencia is Buffalo Exchange. You think they’re a cool thrift store, but actually they’re a national chain. Headquartered in Phoenix! http://www.buffaloexchange.com/locations.php
    Listen to this: They buy your clothes (only the good stuff mind you) and then sell them to other people in the Mission. The money they make from the sale gets sent to Phoenix, and Mission still has the same set of clothes. Can you believe these guys?

  37. C. says:

    Unfortunately for Stephen Elliot and the Stop American Apparel “movement”, “L.A.”, “d-bag” and “c-bag (carpet baggers)” are not categories of business excluded either by S.F. planning laws or by the judgement and discretion alloted to the Planning Department. This is just hating.
    If there is no demonstrable, significant negative economic impact and not a terrible mismatch in terms of “local character”, then there is no legal (ethical, rational, not-totally-raving-pseudo-activist-b.s.) basis for excluding AA.
    Thanks zinzin, meave, Joe Martin, Drew, SFDoggy et al. for keepin’ it real.
    Also, thanks Allan for the “uh-journalistic” coverage (this is the new, post-gonzo journalism – uh…).

  38. zinzin says:

    C – is that true? what about the “no formula retail” rules? i haven’t been able to get a straight answer on that.

    why is there even a hearing on AA?

    is it because of those rules? like they need to ask for a variance to get around the rules or something?

    anyone know?

  39. RICK! says:

    Will Says: What local businesses are against American Apparel? Well, basically all of them:
    * Pirate Cat Radio

    No we don’t. We allowed the posters to be left on the piano with all the other flyers. We read the information as a PSA but don’t endorse your position.

  40. zinzin says:

    RICK! are you a PCR person?

    if so, well, you’re listed on Stephen Elliott’s “blogroll” as a business who is “against AA”.

    of course, i surmise he’s not asked you if you are….only if you would be on his blogroll.

    sleazy. sleazy. sleazy.

    did i mention he also censored my comments? i think i must have….

  41. RICK! says:

    @zinzin

    Yes I am. I do the show Baghdad by the Bay every Thursday at 8-10pm. Anyone is welcome to submit a PSA to pirate cat and we’ll read it.

  42. misterpharmacist says:

    I find it highly ironic that people seem to be more up in arms about AA moving into the Mission than Kink.com moving into the old Armory building.

  43. zinzin says:

    hey, i’ve heard your show! good work. i enjoy it….

  44. mm says:

    I just want to say that I hate American Apparel and am 1000% against them moving into my neighborhood. Now that’s out of the way. I want to know if this coalition of businesses who have been busting out up and down Valencia street are talking about the larger issue of gentrification. In particular, how the kitsch-y, chic-ish businesses that have sprung up in the last ten years have impacted the larger community (think beyond Valencia Street). While keeping big chain stores out is important, it should be even more important for folks to figure out how to keep rents low. Businesses should be concerned about how to put money back into our neighborhood by raising funds for various organizations, or, better yet, hiring people within the community to staff your stores (and not just in the back room). Businesses should be talking about how the demographic has shifted and what that means for the longevity of the neighborhood. Businesses should be concerned with the people, not just the capital, of the community.

    It seems that people are unable or unwilling to acknowledge that five dollar cups of coffee and eco-condos are as economically devastating as the Gap and American Apparel. In the end, ask yourselves, who gets to drink that five dollar cup of coffee? Who gets to live in the earth friendly houses? Who gets to shop at American Apparel?

    I think, since so many of you are getting together, that now would be a good time to explore these questions, as a group, and see what you come up with.

  45. RICK! says:

    @mm

    I have yet to see this massive gentrification you speak of. Most of what I’ve read by long-time residents seem to say low-income immigrant families have been displaced on Valencia by low-income young white kids.

    Neighborhoods must evolve, otherwise all you’re saying is “the best times are behind us, don’t change anything.”

  46. meave says:

    Charles Nibbly: Is my opinion legitimate if I am the domestic partner of a 94110 homeowner? Come on now, don’t discount every renter just because we rent. Valuing homeownership above renting is part of what got us into this lovely housing mess we’re in now. It’s not feasible for every single person to buy a house; for many, it would be a big mistake. Case in point, well, the news is making my point for me every day.

    Getting too deep into economic dis/advantages will pull the whole “debate” even further off-topic. Renters pay taxes too. We do lots of things homeowners do as well, and usually we’re not the ones who suffer from NIMBYism, but you knew that already I’m sure.

    District residents, be they homeowners, renters, business-owners, or I don’t know what else, they all have a right to be heard, DUH. It is extremely lame that this hearing is at such an inconvenient time. I’m super-underemployed and it’s even at a bad time for me. Guess we are going to have to make an effort if the “Keep Our Mission Pure” people are, too.

    misterpharmacist: Kink.com isn’t taking away valuable business from Good Vibes, and the Armory seems to be soundproof, so their activities are entirely hidden away from our innocent ears and eyes. Plus, and this is the important part: THEY ARE NOT AN EVIL CORPORATE CHAIN OUT TO DESTROY ALL THAT WE HOLD DEAR. Besides, this is San Francisco, we don’t understand irony here.

  47. courtney says:

    I’m completely behind anything that might help keep the hipsters in the mission and away from my hood, and I like to look at AA’s porno flavored ads.

  48. mark says:

    mm, thanks for saying something sensible.

    charles nibbly, is this a joke? what percentage of mission residents (people or businesses) are property owners? it’s got to be a miniscule amount.

    i guess american apparel opening or not opening might affect your inflated property values, but you probably won’t even notice the store from the tinted windows of your limousine. the rest of us (in the rather large income bracket that ranges from dirt poor to very well off) that don’t have butlers to go run our errands for us actually have to walk around in the mission. maybe you can understand why us poor lowly folk who can’t afford a shiny gross condo might have an opinion.

    and zinzin, regarding having hearings in the evening, i agree. thanks for saying something i agree with. it’s a new day in america.

  49. ct says:

    Thanks Allan for at least attempting to get a dialogue going with AA.

    If there are serious concerns about ATA w.r.t noise, etc from an AA store, this seems like the sort of thing that they should be confronted about as part of the approval process. Talk it out and try to get an agreement out of them.

    ct

  50. ppp says:

    In 2006, 80% of the Mission voted yes on Proposition G, known as the Small Business Protection Act. This proposition was placed on the ballot by several progressive supervisors. This act “allows residents to voice their concerns at a Planning Commission hearing and helps ensure the survival of local small businesses by preventing monopolization.”

    As the proponents said “the community can use the conditional use process to address the traffic and other impacts that may be caused by the chain store. This process shifts the responsibility onto chain stores to collaborate with communities and demonstrate that proposed chain stores fit the needs and wants of a particular community. San Franciscans have the opportunity to provide their input before these chains homogenize our neighborhoods and push out the City’s small businesses.”

    The San Francisco Republican Party, the San Francisco Association of Realtors and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce were the Opponents to this measure.

    If it wasn’t for this proposition, American Apparel or any other formula retail store would have sneaked in.. and one day, hey! there is an American Apparel (or you name it) on Valencia and on Mission!

    I encourage everybody to go to the hearing.

    Also, I think the Mission Economic Development Agency is not in favor of formula retail stores in the Mission. They help latino business owners, who often get screwed by landlords and their lawyers.

  51. zinzin says:

    um, y’all…i am pretty sure Chuck was being – mostly – facetious.

    but maybe i’m wrong.

    that said, it’s kind of nice to have the unreasonable right represented around here, once in a while, isnt it?

    i’m off to visit my heroin dealer, in my limo, with my 3 half-naked AA model butler-ettes.

  52. Andy says:

    I live in the Mission. Please help keep AA out of the Mission. If you want to live in a neighborhood with chain stores you can live almost anywhere else in the United States of America. People who say chain stores don’t change the character of a neighborhood have no idea what they’re talking about. Every time the chain stores move into a cool neighborhood they drive up rents and drive out local businesses a more chain stores follow. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN IN THE MISSION! If you’d like to shop at an AA, get on your bike and ride to another location. It will take you all of 15 minutes. Thank you.

  53. zinzin says:

    um, there’s a comment somewhere on here by Meave, stating that there are many chain stores already in the mission. AT&T went in less than a year ago. no one said boo.

    only reason anyone is protesting AA is that they want onto VALENCIA, and right in the thick of the privileged white pseudo gritty playland that’s been created.

    this whole thing reeks of the worst kind of nimby bullshit. god it makes me puke.

    somehow, if it was MAC or MEDA protesting (and i am sure they’ll be at the meeting…since they have gov’t subsidized minions to attend..but i figure they’re letting elliott do the heavy lifting on this one), it would seem more…i dont know…legitimate, because they could at least speak for a group that might actually be negatively impacted by the arrival of yet another store they could never shop.

    thing is, all those folks have ALREADY BEEN DISPLACED by THE EXACT STORES that are apparently protesting AA. you think the latino family next door to me shops therapy? or curiosity shoppe? or paxton gate for chrissakes?

    i mean, these are swell little stores, but is that the best we can do…as the vanguard of all that’s sacred about the mission? a few nick-nack boutiques? and does ANYONE from the hood even shop there? seriously? my guess its all bridge & tunnel revenue anyways….

    my god. it’s fucking amazing. white people move to a hood (me included)… and over 20 years, they systematically displace an ethnic demographic, one that’s been in place for 70+ years…they drive up rents and open businesses and make no effort to assimilate extant communities…they drive a cultural wedge….and then they think they get to decide which other white people get to come…and which don’t.

    holy fuck. is that not insane?

    you know, sf is 49 square miles surrounded by reality. paul kantner said that. and that’s why we love sf, right?

    i spend a lot of time in ny, and i forwarded all these links to a friend out there, who read it all over, and after pondering it, she had the following one liner:

    white folks stress about some crazy shit.

  54. alicia says:

    …apparently dov charney thinks that women initiate most domestic violence?

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/01/28/fuck-you-dov-charney/

  55. mark says:

    “only reason anyone is protesting AA is that they want onto VALENCIA, and right in the thick of the privileged white pseudo gritty playland that’s been created.”

    I actually mostly agree with you about this. I think attempts on either side to make this about the greater Mission are in error – no, American Apparel is not going to help the parts of the Mission that need an economic boost (even a block away on Mission), but also no, it will not immediately displace people living in the greater Mission. The ramifications of denying American Apparel a spot on Valencia street don’t go far past Valencia street, and neither would the supposed benefits.

    It’s not a social justice issue, it’s a neighborhood issue. I do think people have a right to decide what kind of stores they want in their neighborhood, and if most Mission residents and businesses don’t want American Apparel in their neighborhood, it shouldn’t be there. It’s a fair point of contention, but I think the concerns are valid.

    Bringing people into the controversy that will neither shop at American Apparel nor will get jobs there (did you know you have to send in a picture?) as apparent victims on either side of the issue is disingenuous.

    Also, I think it’s fair to recognize that many (not all) of the chain stores on Mission – payless shoes, factory 2 u, the sketchers outlet, and at&t – serve the needs of the low and moderate income community.

  56. zinzin says:

    @mark: “Bringing people into the controversy that will neither shop at American Apparel nor will get jobs there (did you know you have to send in a picture?) as apparent victims on either side of the issue is disingenuous.”

    maybe that’s true from one perspective, sure… but i bring this up in part because of the rhetoric of “struggle” and “cause” that’s been bandied about….as if the folks that own (or shop at) paxton gate really have any fucking worries caused by AA… other than the general irrelevance of their passtime, and the shelf-life of their store. but ya know what, AA isnt impacting that. hell, it might drive traffic. who else will shop there?

    THAT’S the disingenuous part…making like AA is going to ruin anything that hasn’t already been ruined. making like the “protest” is really anything but a selfish attempt to halt the development that allowed them their endeavor, to keep the opportunity landscape for themselves.

    gentrification is a long process, and it doesn’t end when you want it to end. the same forces that beget paxton gate (which sells useless esoteric nick-nacks) beget AA (which sells clothes).

    watch out what you ask for. and don’t couch your want to limit competition rushing through the door you made in the notion of some bullshit “struggle”.

    also, let’s not be hasty about who might work at AA. fact is, there are PLENTY of folks in the hood who aren’t white hipsters that could work there, even if they DO have to send in a picture (and what the hell does that have to do with anything, other than it’s weird). AA’s model troupe is at least half people of color. i mean, latino folks are cute, and they have cameras. why couldn’t they work at AA? i’m making a joke with that last line…but i really don’t get your logic here. why wouldnt the hire mission kids to work there? my guess is they will.

    overall i agree with the idea that folks should be able to effect what happens in their neighborhood. and not just tax payers either…everyone on any side of an issue should have a voice. absolutely.

    but when a bunch of whiny white people try to “protect” a 6 block enclave they’ve carved out of a neighborhood, without taking anyone but folks exactly like themselves into account…when the EXACT thing they’re trying to prevent happens LESS THAN A BLOCK AWAY (AT&T on mission) and they say NOTHING, because they don’t go to mission street…that sounds a little disingenuous to me.

  57. mark says:

    a couple things:

    let’s be honest here: these words, protest, cause, and struggle, were words i never saw associated with this until people on your side started using them to denigrate the effort to keep american apparel off valencia. it’s readily apparent this is not a cause or a struggle, it’s just a normal old group of people lobbying the planning deparment. we all know those are dirty words here, at least in the way you are using them, and the pro-american apparel contingent is using them to make the anti-chain retail side sound like jerks.

    “and what the hell does that have to do with anything, other than it’s weird”

    that’s the only point i was trying to make. it’s weird and creepy. not grounds for keeping them off valencia street . . . but perhaps evidence that they are going to hire the kind of poeple that are already on valencia street: hip, young people (of varying ethnicities). most of their jobs will probably go to students, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it’s not something that’s necessarilly going to be an immense help to the surrounding neighborhood.

    i think you’re misinterpreting many people’s feelings about this: i agree valencia street is a ritzy enclave in a relatively poor and middle-class neighborhood. i don’t think it is some kind of multicultural paradise, and i can’t afford a lot of stores in the area; i like mission street a whole lot more. i was not happy when ritual opened, because it seemed like the tipping point toward rapid gentrification. however, valencia street still has a lot of businesses i like (community thrift store, lost weekend, dog eared, el toro taqueria, most recently udupi palace, etc), and i do think it is unique that the street is virutally entirely independently and locally owned, but still thriving.

    as you said, valencia street is already largely gentrified, and this effort is being led in part by people who were agents of that gentrification. however, i don’t think this issue is really about gentrification. a.a. would make valencia street kind of gross more than it would gentrify it. i would hate for valencia streeet to become noe valley two but it would be worse if it become a mini-walnut creek.

  58. mark says:

    ack i accidently hit submit too soon. i was trying to say: i don’t think a.a. will really gentrify valencia street any more, but i do think it will change the neighborhood and set it on a course toward being like every other boring ritzy chain retail strip in the bay area. the nature of the neighborhood now is that inexpensive restaurant and stores compete alongside ritzy boutiques, and i do think the introduction of chain retail could mean the end of these, and the end of the arts organiations that flourish on the street.

  59. C says:

    let em move in. I’ll take them over the shit-throwing crazies on Valencia any day.

  60. tremendo says:

    First, I want to predict a positive outcome out of all this. We all know how different Valencia and Mission are. Now, community building (including the bonding between people of different races and classes) could start very small, as small as neighbors and businesses from a 6 block enclave being affected by one event. People talk, learn and take action, talk to other people. Dealing with issues that affect not only yourself with other people, makes you more aware of the problem and often you realize that you are not the only enclave dealing with the same shit.

    Next time that the folks on Mission or somewhere else in the City don’t want another chain store on their streets, wouldn’t they know who to ask for support, advise and help? wouldn’t the “hipsters on Valencia” have learned from their own “struggle” and lend them a hand? My guess is they will.

    Secondly, there is plenty of non-hipsters on Valencia and the Mission that are against formula retail on Valencia, the Mission and the City. Just because you can’t stand hipsters and it seems that hipsters are against it, that doesn’t make it an stupid fight.

    In general, I think that for the regular citizen/consumer, being against formula retail stores in our neighborhoods is more about avoiding monopolization and monoculture than about avoiding competition. We normally like to think of ourselves and our surroundings as unique. Don’t you?

    Businesses want to be located in an area where there are other stores, even if there are the competition, because of the traffic. That’s a fact. (Formula retail stores know how to destroy competition. They can afford it. That’s a fact, I think.)

    But even local independent businesses on Valencia which are not in competition with AA’s 15 dollar panties, like Aquarious records, Lost weekend and ATA (where you can see great shows for 6 dollars), are also against it, and they could benefit form the traffic. Why then?

  61. zinzin says:

    ya know, i think we’re aligned on a lot of points.

    that said…the words “struggle” and “cause” are used by me a lot….and they’re LIFTED DIRECTLY FROM STEPHEN ELLIOT’S SHAM OF A BLOG.

    YOUR side, pally. not mine.

    THAT’S the biggest rub of this whole thing. i am all for opposing views, and discourse, and may the mosr well-stated and well-organized side win. sure. fine. no problem.

    but stephen elliott is a pseudo-activist politico wannabe, in THE WORST SF WAY, he’s a blow-hard do-nothing “progressive” ideologue. and i call him that BECAUSE he uses the words “Struggle” and “cause” to create a politicized shenanigan out of a situation that requires attention, yes, but is a teeny weeny SPECK of an issue compared to the broader landscape of needs in the mission (not to mention the city). and i am surmising, but i will bet money he’s doing it to either launch a political career or sell books.

    he’s the worst thing about the movement to keep AA out. listen, folks dont want it there, that’s what prop G is for. i have no worries. fine keep em out. but whipping this into an ideological discussion of “we” and “they” started with stephen elliot’s rhetoric. this is not my opinion. it’s fact.

    seems to me, barring maybe Nibbly (and maybe me), everyone on “my side” has been taking a fairly reasonable viewpoint…it’s the folks on “your side” that have been touting (silly) “struggle” and (bullshit) “big box” and (naive, selfish) “dont ruin the mission” and (completely hysterical) “oh my god oh my god oh my god”.

    this is not to mention their complete disregard for the hood outside the 6 block white enclave bubble THEY CREATED, and now want to make exclusive for only a certain person / business / demographic / pants style.

    listen, you’re entitled to your opinion, and so is everyone else. let’s just keep track of who said what and when, shall we?

  62. mark says:

    fair enough, i should have checked that out first. but seriously, i find struggle on there once and cause on there once. i have seen them on here and on sfist maybe 30 or 40 times now, and virtually all of them as part of some attempt to pigeonhole and denigrate the opposition to american apparel as self-involved trust fund hipsters. not exactly furthering the dialogue.

  63. zinzin says:

    well, like i said on a number of fronts, one should be careful what door one opens.

    gentrification…rhetoric…whatever.

    the result may not always be what one desires or expects. and frankly, i dont think it’s the NUMBER of uses that really matters. it’s the intent.

    far as “furthering the dialog”, well, at this point i think it’s mostly gum-flapping till the meeting at Planning….but i gotta be me. i’m a fast typer and a poor editor and i just can’t hold back on shit like this.

    sorry about that.

  64. theft says:

    > We recently went public so thousands of our employees are shareholders

    Yeah, no. Go eff yourselves. There is no such thing as “what American Apparel is about”. I’m not apeshit either way about the store, but this bullshit doesn’t help.

  65. johnny0 says:

    From 12 years ago:

    Some things don’t change:

    Says Don Alan, who owns Radio Valencia with his wife Lydia, “I don’t think it’s really the case that the change is coming at the expense of the people who live here. In many ways, Valencia was a retail district that had died out. When I first came to the Mission fourteen years ago, these places were all boarded up. A lot of previously unused space is being brought back to life.” At the idea that Valencia bistros could be seen as catering to outsiders, Alan shook his head. “There’s a cafe like Radio Valencia in every neighborhood in San Francisco. Ours is a neighborhood business. If we didn’t serve our neighbors, we wouldn’t be in business.”

    In all, Valencia Street’s make-over, though deserving of concern and activism to preserve opportunities for Mission residents, defies both the knee-jerk charge of gentrification and, for that matter, trend story journalism. For every talisman of the Western invasion of yuppies, (e.g. the price of a call bottle whiskey at the newly re-opened Bruno’s is $4.25!), there is another scrap of evidence it’s not as bad as we thought, (e.g. the Hibernia bank building at 22nd and V, rumored to be a new Gap clothing store, will actually be a Social Security office). For every tempting pose to strike against the chi-chi restaurants, there’s the tempting five and six dollar entree destined to make you a hypocrite. And for all of San Francisco’s obsession with food, one could easily build an argument that it’s Valencia’s cultural activity — the one-room art galleries, experimental theater venues, and churches — that best defines the avenue.

    The future of Valencia, says Casenave, comes down to “making sure that the people who live there now have a similar opportunity as those who are moving in. But what we don’t need are more planning meetings. What we basically need is to go to work on a plan. We need an affirmative program to ensure everyone gets a chance and a committee that steers the private sector so it functions in the community’s best interest.”

    Ugh, a Gap?

    Impressive how many of those places listed are still around.

  66. zinzin says:

    except, of course, for Radio Valencia.

  67. johnny0 says:

    There’s always Radio Havana!

    Just realized that Berertta is where Radio Valencia was — when did it close? Wasn’t there some Thai place there before Last Supper Club?

  68. Lynae says:

    Uhhh….was Maeve talking about the same X21 that’s on Valencia st, or was she terribly confused? Because they’re not a clothing store–they’re not even a new ANYTHING store. They’re a used furniture store.

  69. [...] Apparel responded to the controversy by saying they will fit in to the Mission neighborhood and compared it to the location of their [...]

  70. zinzin says:

    not sure about when it closed. not sure about the thai place.

    i am sure that a fire engine crashed into the old radio valencia. i have a pic of it somewhere.

  71. C. says:

    Props to zinzin on creating a whole new thread with his photo of the fire engine crash.
    The Stop American Apparel arguments against are false and misleading – either intentionally or just willfully idiotically.
    There is no basis for creating a precedent or opening in law or Planning Committee review policy. Both are represented by Prop G, which requires a review of EVERY “formula retail” store wanting to come into The Mission. The considerations of the review are spelled out in Prop G, and they do take into account how many and what type of other formula retail have already come in – but with the explicit purpose of preventing too many! There are also considerations of local business, and of how many spaces remain available for businesses.
    So I will advance the most controversial argument, but the only one of any of these arguments actually supported by the text of the law:
    The best way to stop Gap and other “bad” or just “ugh” formula retail from coming to The Mission is: to let American Apparel in!!! This would NOT create any precedent or opening for more, but would create a basis for the argument that the needs of the market are already served by one formula retail store, which is enough. Also, American Apparel is much more likely to be willing to participate in programs to support local arts, etc. than are other formula retail companies.

  72. zinzin says:

    here here C. reasonable points, and thanks for the kind words.

    unfortunately, the anti-AA “movement” is quite vocal, and – somehow, dont ask me how – mobilized. i guess sitting home and watching spongebob, or writing fan mail to margaret cho, or reading conspiracy theory blogs gets old.

    plus they have Saint Elliott, Mother of the Cause, their banner holder out there, and for him it’s personal, because he wants to hold office and / or sell books. a personal motivation (And a financial one) is always strongest.

    given the propensity of “progressive” sf gov’t, my guess is AA will be censored.

    even if the planning decision is positive, it can then be appealed to the BoS, who have no history, in the last 10 years since “progressive” blow-hards took over, of doing anything but pandering to single-cause “activists” and advancing their own hollow, crooked careers.

    there’s NO WAY Elsbernd or Campos or any of the other yahoos will come out in favor of AA in the hood. (it is, after all, a neighborhood-destroying, planet-eating corporate big box monster.)

    and there’s NO WAY they’ll can the “movement” what it is: a racist, xenophobe, political shenanigan.

    and, most sadly, the way it looks, everyone who would be in favor has other things to worry about – either because they have jobs, families, real life matters to manage or because they’re lazy self satisfied babies.

    i hope i’m wrong. i’d be happy to get slapped n the face on this one.

    PS you all know where to send letters. send em.

  73. Hooray. American Apparel wants to bring low-paying retail jobs for a handful of young skinny girls to the Mission District. Oh, wait, sorry. They want to “leverage art, design and technology to improve the community.” Yep, that’s a whole lotta newfangled corporate hooey!

    Bottom line: higher rents, cheesy advertising, sex harassment lawsuits, and all from a company that’s likely going bankrupt!

    http://againstamericanapparel.wordpress.com/

  74. [...] the Valencia Street controversy. They respond in length — which you can read in its entiretyright here – but, ultimately, claim they meant no [...]

  75. emily says:

    They think they cleaned up Echo Park? WOW.
    It is unfortunate that the people involved in this project are so new to SF that they don’t know the history of the neighborhood. To them, Valencia is and always has been a hipster haven. When I moved from the TL to Harrison St in the late 90′s, the area was still affordable, beautiful, and full of punk rockers. Which is, as anyone who lived there then will tell you, the way it still should be.
    Alas, fashion trumps style yet again.

  76. [...] didn’t bring up American Apparel.To read more about the retail chain melee, check out Mission Mission for continued updates.God [...]

  77. Jahir Kamal says:

    I want to buy apparel from new place. American apparel is not affordable prices. And didn’t bring up American Apparel.To read more about the retail chain melee, check out Mission Mission.

  78. [...] museum now joins the likes of BART in Marin County, light-rail on Geary street, and, most recently, American Apparel in the Mission [...]

  79. Maci Miller says:

    I absolutely do not like the idea. American Apparel is doing fine without opening in the Mission. The majority of the people who spoke on the court date back in February or March did not want this store in their neighborhood. The Mission is the neatest district, it’s flourishing on it’s own- without American Apparel.

  80. [...] by hormonally supercharged 16-year olds, you’ll see a company that, whilst being an “evil corporate chain“, cares for its workers and generally does the right [...]

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  82. The Mission is the neatest district, beautiful, and full of punk rockers. Which is, as anyone who lived there then will tell you, the way it still should be.
    Alas, fashion trumps style yet again.

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