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May-23-2011

Barks & bites: Petco still battling to open Unleashed store at 5411 Geary

The debate over whether or not Petco should be allowed to open up one of their Petco Unleashed stores at 5411 Geary Avenue has been fierce.

On one side are the owners and supporters of the small pet stores that already exist in the neighborhood, who argue that Petco’s size and pricing advantage could drive the small shops out of business. Several of the pet store owners have banded together to fight Petco.

On the other side are people concerned about the high commercial vacancy rate in the Richmond District, estimated at 25% – considerably higher than the city average of 4%. The space Petco is looking to take over is 5,000 square feet, arguably too large for any small mom-and-pop retailer to manage. So what, other than a chain store, could afford to move in there? (5411 Geary used to be a Walgreens)

Neighborhood meetings have been heated and in March, after Petco applied for their permit, Richmond District Supervisor Eric Mar responded by introducing uber-specific legislation that would prohibit all chain pet-supply stores from opening along Geary Boulevard between 14th and 28th Avenues. The legislation was backed by the Small Business Administration in early May.

The legislation, Mar told the SF Examiner, is “to protect the several small mom-and-pop pet-supply businesses already in the neighborhood.”

Today the SF Examiner reports that Petco is prepared to carry on the fight to take over the 5411 Geary space.

Petco sent a letter to Mar and the City Attorney’s Office calling the proposal illegal. “We believe the proposed ordinance exceeds the city’s police power, infringes on the project sponsor’s equal protection rights and, if enacted, would be invalid under federal and state law,” said the letter from Andrew Junius, of the Rueben and Junius law firm, which is representing Petco.

The City Attorney’s office told the Examiner they “are confident that we will reach an outcome that is legally sound and in the best interests of The City.”

Petco would like to see the legislation amended, or better yet, withdrawn altogether. It remains to be seen whether Mar’s legislation banning chain pet stores on central Geary will stick, or if it will just prove to be ceremonial.

Tricia Principe, the owner of Cal’s Pet Supply on California and 22nd Avenue, is committed to continuing the fight against Petco. “We are still committed to the concept that a family/neighborhood pet supplies store works best for the Richmond District. This latest move won’t deter us from gathering support for Supervisor Mar’s legislation. PETCO already has turned a deaf ear to any positive suggestions and would rather spend money hiring lawyers.”

Yet despite the support from small business owners and some residents, Mar knows the fight is far from over. He told the Examiner earlier this year, “According to many small businesses, the game is still played largely in favor of bigger businesses that can hire their lobbying firms and often they can win their six votes on the Board of Supervisors.”

Sarah B.


The interior of an Unleashed by PetCo store in Hillcrest, CA

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12:17 pm | Posted under Business, Pets | 36 comments
  1. Susan said:

    We are a city of independent thinkers…yet some want to take our choices away from us! Why not let people express their thoughts with their dollars? An example is how many large chain bookstores are left in SF? Not many or any! But I also live in the inner Richmond & so to get a coffee drink, I usually leave the neighborhood to go to a store I choose to go to (Peets) since the nimby’s won’t let any chains into the immediate ‘hood! Does that help them make more money? No! Would I prefer to walk to Clement & get a coffee and maybe spend money in the other local shops? Of course! Let this pet store open…. if the local shops are good – offering quality items at decent prices with great service, they will prosper.

  2. anony said:

    Susan, your last argument is the argument used against big corps. The big corps can outprice any mom and pop shop because they buy goods wholesale in larger quantities and usually cheap stuff made in china. The mom and pop stores can not compete with the big chains.

  3. Chris said:

    @anony – then perhaps we should look at altering the market in a way that can work at the local level. For example, instead of trying to ban places that we don’t want in order to protect those that we do, how about we allow everyone, and simply subsidize the stores that we want to succeed?

    Each year, smaller local shops could apply for direct financial assistance from the city on the basis that they’re “unique” or “charming” or whatever else we determine nice about local places – and they would have to show financial records proving that they actually need the subsidy. That way we could see exactly how much policies like this cost to the city, and then make a determination with some real cost/benefit analysis.

  4. Susan said:

    anony – I said “decent prices” – I know I’m one of those people willing to spend a bit more for service & local knowledge vs a chain… but I want to have that choice, not have it made for me.

  5. kayvaan said:

    I think we should just make economies of scale illegal. Then we would not have this problem.

  6. David H said:

    @ Susan-How do you keep the small stores alive so folks can make the choice?

  7. Chris said:

    @David H – you directly subsidize them. Banning something by definition eliminates a choice. Subsidizing something allows an additional choice, albeit one funded by the government.

  8. Ron said:

    Who else will move into that giant space if not a big chain? Why is everyone up in arms over this and not the fresh and easy moving in on Clement and 33rd? Maybe the local pet store owners are just more vocal than the local grocers? They aren’t looking out for the best interest of the neighborhood but themselves. (who could blame them though) The squeaky wheel gets greased.

  9. David H said:

    @chris- Although personally I think that is viable(Central subway is doing that) as a city we are broke. Doubtful PETCO would contribute to such a fund. I also worry during the years of Geary BRT we will lose many business. Having only one big box store is also limiting choice but by different means. What is clear is that there is a need for more discussion, I welcome it.

  10. Sue said:

    You keep the small stores alive by patronizing them, spending money in them, being willing to pay a little more for the qualities the small stores represent that you value. Price is not the only “value”. Forget the government subsidy, and do your own individual subsidy, and if enough people do the same, then the small store which represents more of your values than price alone will stay there for you to patronize.

  11. tyler said:

    I am not against Petco moving in. If the vacancy rate is already high, you can not blame it on chain stores, since if chain stores are banned, and vacancy is high, then there goes your “chain stores make everyone go out of business” theory.

  12. Mia said:

    Petco would be a welcome addition. I hope they end up hiring some of the workers who were out of a job after Walgreens / Blockbuster / etc. closed.

    I am not averse to spending more to support a small shop, but want to make the decision on where to spend my money. I’m not going to buy from Cal’s or B&B if there is no Petco…I will just drive to Daly City to buy in bulk.

  13. Mia said:

    FWIW, I like going to Pet Express on Geary/Arguello, but I wouldn’t be too happy to see a “No to Petco” sign on their counter.

  14. Mike said:

    I wholeheartedly support the opening of the Unleashed store….and I happen to DETEST Petco. I think PETCO is way, way overpriced and generally has a clueless staff. So, rather than go to PETCO, I CHOOSE to regularly patronize B&B Discount Pet Supply (their prices are BETTER than PETCO!) and every once and awhile, PetFood Express, where prices are reasonable and the staff is knowledgeable.

    See that? I voluntarily choose to go to a store with more competitive pricing and more knowledgeable staff. Isn’t choice a wonderful thing?

  15. Chris said:

    @David H – Petco should absolutely not be the one being forced to pay any subsidy, that should be the city or the voters themselves. That was my point – as it sits now, we’re indirectly subsidizing the small pet stores by eliminating any threat of competition. If we don’t want the market to make th decision, we should at least move to a form of direct subsidy, so that voters can see exactly how much this is costing us. As it sits now, we don’t really know how much this policy is costing us.

    If voters are unwilling to directly subsidize the small stores, then at the very least we should be heavily (heavily!) regulating them. Right now, they enjoy the advantages of any protected oligopoly (think the telecoms or cable companies) without the equivalent consumer protections in place. Any price increases should have to be run by a public regulator – because natural market competition has been eliminated by the government for them.

  16. Debbie said:

    I’m sad to be supporting a chain store, but the small local stores simply aren’t serving the neighborhood’s needs. We live on Cabrillo, so we’re not walking distance from B&B or Cal’s with a 20-lb bag of cat litter, and we don’t have a car. Cal’s doesn’t carry the brands we prefer to buy, and B&B’s small size means they stock smaller size packages that are more expensive. So every few months, we borrow a car and drive to Petco in the Sunset. Better yet, cat litter is cheapest at Safeway when they have sales.

    Let’s be real — small neighborhood stores are great, but there’s a point when it’s elitist to make a judgment that everybody should spend more to support them. We’re still coming out of a recession, and some people just can’t afford it. The Richmond isn’t a tourist stop like North Beach or Chinatown. It’s a neighborhood where people treasure the ability to walk over to Geary and do their errands. This legislation isn’t about the neighborhood — it’s about a couple stores that aren’t serving us all.

  17. Unleashed said:

    If you love pets, or if you just want to see Geary Blvd flourish again – or even if you just believe in a free marketplace: visit our initiative website to learn more details about the project and Supervisor Mar’s proposed legislation. “Like” our Facebook page Revitalize Geary Now to help us build a supportive coalition. We cannot do this without support!

  18. David H said:

    Nothing has been said about the lawsuits over animal cruelty and deaths of animals they had for sale. This is why they cannot sell animals in SF. I don’t call a chain that allows employees to put animals in freezers or vacuums up birds to kill them pet friendly. And oh yes those great prices? Petco has been sued for price fixing. Their employee training is lacking and mandatory training was a part of the lawsuit settlement with the city. Why would I want to “revitalize” Geary with a store like that?
    There have also been some comments about local stores not having a particular food- I called a couple, each one said you only have to ask and they will do their best to get it. Petco carries nationally distributed brands they can buy in bulk and cheaply. If Petco actually knew how or cared about their animal customers I would be less vocal about my opposition. I DON”T want a store on Geary that kills animals at other locations even though they will not be selling animals on Geary!

  19. Chris said:

    @David H – so I assume that you supported Starbucks’ intention of putting a store on Geary a few years ago? You would also support other chains moving to the street if their track records met your approval?

    The fact that someone has been sued for something doesn’t mean anything – you can sue anyone for anything. The only part that matters is the outcome of the lawsuit.

    On a similar note – I’m in the Seattle area this week, and stopped by a Banana Republic last night to pick up a belt. The place was packed, and it made me think about the dollars heading back to SF and several of my neighbors in the Richmond that work at the Gap, Inc HQ. I’m very happy that our chain retail stores are not being stopped in other places.

  20. joshua said:

    I think it would be fine if petco moved into the empty space on geary, the products would be low priced and will be a breath of fresh air on an otherwise depressed and deterioating geary boulevard. After all it is the FREE MARKET.

  21. Phil said:

    @joshua Free market? What free market? You mean the free market for food and other commodities manipulated by commodity traders – including the paper bags that cat litter and pet food are packaged in, not to mention the ingredients in the pet food itself.

    Free market? YOu mean the corn and soy products that are underwritten by *your* tax dollars, so that *your* tax dollars can be used to help Con-Agra undersell Mexican corn and put Mexican farmers out of work?

    Look, maybe some people want to tout how we’re a city of “independent thinkers”, but are we also a community of neighbors that take care of our own, or not? Interesting that some of us want to go where the lowest price is – like thieving Safeway (talk about labor and commodity abuse!) – what? just to save a few bucks on a bag of litter? How about walking into your local pet shop and asking for a discount if you’re so hard up. If you were a regular customer, and you could leverage your request with other purchases, maybe the pet shop owner would give you that discount.

    I don’t even have a pet; nor do I work with or have any interest in any of the local pet shops. What I do have is a sense of how lazy people are about “choices’. I have been involved for many years in community affairs, and over and over again I have seen two things. Citizens who cry “foul” when a local business goes down, but who failed to support the business when it was operating; that, and citizens who support a new business coming in and then fail to patronize that business.

    Choice? How about commitment? How about showing some solidarity to those who have run retail shops and made this community what it is – over *decades*? Doesn’t that count for anything?

    Petco is showing itself to be a greed-ball company, willing to counter Supervisor Mar’s initial parry. Why? Why would they do that unless they see a chance to dominate the pet shop business within a certain diameter. Believe me, Petco has run the numbers, and it knows exactly how to price loss-leaders that bring enough people into the store to “stock up” so that they won’t have to walk through a pet store door for several months. What does that do to local businesses? What happens once Petco has driven all the other pet shops out of business – and they will, by offering too-difficult-to-resist “sales” that keep people in their store. Petco has the cash to take losses for 3-5 years, and beyond. They can run the Geary store at a loss, and just wait for the neighborhood stores to fold. Choice? Give me a break! This is about providing the *pretense* of choice, until they own the market – then what? What happens to your precious “choice” then?

    I want to see this area develop as bad as the next person. The neighborhood is hurting. We need some fresh thinking. How about some subsidies to small businesses that are *differentiated* from what the current crop is? How about getting our local banks – including the small banks, to underwrite some loans to help those new businesses? Why not? Banks used to do that; they can do it again – and don’t tell me banks don’t have the cash, because they do. How about it” New Republic Bank, and the many others out there. How about investing back into the community that you profit from?

    Choice? Is WalMart a choice? Is Safeway a choice?

    As for the new market up the street, I wasn’t here at the time they approved that. I don’t see the need for yet another pharmacy. CVS? Give me a break! Who needs another pharmacy? As far as the food store, I don’t know anything about that chain, but I don’t have a good feeling for its impact on any business around here that goes head-to-head with it in product selection.

    Sure, there are local businesses that are bound to fail. Some local businesses just float; their owners are sometimes boutique hobbyists, or disinterested. Eventually, businesses like that fail. What I see in the pet shops around here, as I walk by – and sometimes wander in to browse out of curiosity (again, I don’t have a pet) – is that those shops have a real personality, and it’s fun to wander around.

    I don’t see what the problem is. I think what the problem is is that people – some people – will trade their retail neighbor for a few bucks, just because a “sale” is on at the discount store. These stores are our *neighbors*; they have invested their lives and livlihoods in our neighborhood. They are one of us. Let’s treat them as such.

  22. Chris said:

    @Phil – SF has a median income double that of the country at large, meaning that we have become very good at convincing folks in other areas of the country to part with their cash and send it our way, through our numerous large retail chains based here, banks based here, tourism to the city, tech and biotech companies based here, etc. Are we supposed to only feel the need to support only local companies in our city, yet still dominate businesses in other city to insure that we’re still located at the top of the national food chain?

    The Richmond District probably has more money coming into it from the corporate HQs of just Gap, Williams Sonoma, and Wells Fargo (through employee pay) than all of the retail in the neighborhood combined. Should we cheer for these companies to fail as well, so that folks in Kansas City and Peoria can shop at their own local stores?

    I understand the desire to have the best of the 50′s mixed in with the best of today, but it’s not possible. In the economic shakeout that has happened over the past 50 years, SF has been more fortunate than just about every other city in the country. Attempting to go back to primarily locally owned businesses trading with each other would have a disastrous effect on this city, because we are won of the unqualified winners of the past half century. Or are you just talking about supporting local stores only here, but still allowing our chain stores and other multinational companies to dominate everywhere else?

  23. Phil said:

    Chris, I’m not opposed to chain stores, per se. I’m opposed to chain stores that plop their loss-leader buying power right in the middle of neighborhood economies that have managed to nurture small-scale businesses. What Petco and many other specialty retailers look for (hunt for?) are:

    1) communities that have no available service similar to the commercial chain, but where demand is sufficient to currently (or eventually, over the short term) maintain the sustainability of a location placement.

    2) communities that have already-established businesses that the commercial chain can easily out-market, and out-leverage in terms of buying power.

    Petco is operating with #2 assumptions, above. Petco *knows* that it can out-price the smaller retailers that have worked hard *over decades* to develop the market here. I see this as little more than parasitical on Petco’s part.

    Pet stores are not coffee shops; there is a far more limited demand for pet supplies than there is for coffee. Thus, they are more “fragile” when put in a position to compete with large chains like Petco that can use buying leverage to offer generic things like pet food and cat litter at deep-discount prices, in order to get consumers into their stores. This is classic commercial chain deployment strategy.

    I’m not making moral judgments about Petco; I’m making a moral argument for the maintenance of local *specialized* retail. This is what Supervisor Mar’s initiative is all about, and I applaud him for it. He is standing up for the commercial *diversity* of his neighborhood.

    San Francisco can have its Petco shop, but let Petco place itself in neighborhoods that are *lacking* pet stores, instead of coming in to undersell the hard work of others who have invested their lives in developing a business, and who have been doing mostly a good job except for lacking the ability to use huge mounds of cash to leverage competitors out of business.

    How about this? Can Petco show us metrics re: situations where it has moved into neighborhoods where smaller pet stores are present? Can Petco show us that those pet stores have maintained their businesses to the same profit levels (or higher) after Petco’s deployment in their neighborhoods?

    That’s what at the heart of the pleas for “choice”. Is Petco up to that challenge? I’m waiting.

    For emphasis: there needs to be a *judicious* policy re: placement of large chain-based businesses in any neighborhood. This is San Francisco, and believe me, San Francisco will do *just fine* if Petco or any other large chain refuses to park here.

    Here’s another challenge: What are local and large banks, who profit from the deposits made by locals, doing to help create commercial diversity? I don’t see it. They need to step up.

  24. BigG said:

    I seriously think Supervisor Mar would rather see blight and crime in the Richmond than chain stores.

  25. joshua said:

    The whole philosophy of trying to protect small bussineses from going under is a flaued way of thinking and is not the right direction this neborhood needs to be going in. Now I agree, mom & pop stores are great to have and provide a great service to the neborhood but when they fall behind, they need to let the world go on and let the next best thing to move in (petco). Look at the Marina District, that is how this neborhood should feel in the 21st century, Apple stores, Crunch fitness ect… I have live in the richmond district for about 12 years and I feel like nothing has changed it has only gotten worse and people need to let life into a DEAD neborhood. It is really descracful to see people whose lives are boring enough to try and stop any improvment, all under the ubsurd idea of protecting small bussiness from a store that will clearly outperform them because local pet shops know they are tremendously inferior with their overpriced products which are the EXACT SAME THING AT PETCO ! This Liberal ideology HAS TO STOP If this neborhood will ever competitive with others and actully improve.

    P.S. – phil you and your narrow way of thinking and pointless argument shows you have no idea what is going on hear. I guess if you were around 100 years ago you would still want everyone to ride horseback insted of in cars. It is really foolish to oppose something that can only help this community insted of being ripped -off at mom and pop.

  26. Chris said:

    Phil, I suppose that I’m not seeing what the added value is of the current pet stores. They’re primarily selling a commodity that you use in your own home, and they’re primarily selling the exact same commodity that PetCo would sell.

    Having walked through a couple of the stores recently, most of the merchandise is obviously from out-of-country production facilities, likely distributed to the store via out-of-city distributors.

    So…the only benefit being provided by the store is whatever happens inside the actual store. This benefit seemed pretty small to me, in my dealings, but maybe the store owners (or their employees that were there that day) were just having an off day. I’m a bit confused by your questions that PetCo should answer about pet stores before and after they move in. The pet food and supply industry that this store would tackle is 100% commodity. I should hope that any new competition drives down the prices and profit levels of any store selling only commodities. It’s the added value services (grooming, locally sourced pet foods, locally made pet toys, etc) that may or may not multiply in the area after a PetCo moves in, as the local stores learn to compete on their strengths and move to different products that have higher profit margins. Why in the world would we want or expect the price of Iams to go up if Petco moves in?

    Like I mentioned before to David H above – I’m fine with the idea of discussing explicit subsidies. I personally don’t see the need for them to be applied for local pet stores, but could see the need for using them with other local stores that provide some value that wouldn’t be provided by a large chain. However, if voters feel differently from me, that’s fine. The explicit subsidy would at least be a way to measure exactly how much propping up a local store would cost us.

    The rest of your post is mostly just dealing with the way that things are set up on a national level. We probably agree on most things, but I’m not naive enough to think that we can “do things differently” with any type of success at just the local level. These types of things have to be tackled at at least the state level to have any success.

    For your bank question – I have several friends working for small socially oriented internet startups (some with a hand in retail) in SOMA, some of which have loans with some of the banks that you mention. If lending money to small entrepreneurial companies with global ambition isn’t encouraging commercial diversity, I don’t know what is. These are companies that will likely disrupt local economies around the globe and introduce a huge amount of choice and services that do not exist for hundreds of millions of people, as other local companies like Craigslist and Yelp did before. Those are the type companies that really make me proud to be a San Franciscan.

  27. joshua said:

    It is really ubsurd how their are this many people conserned and debating about a simple pet supply store that will provide a great boost and service for the community. This lobbying for protecting these small bussnesses from these vastly superior stores that offer better prices and selections is just going to keep holding back this neborhood from its full potential. Apparently alot of people have to much time on their hands, small bussnesses are highly overpriced and if their is somthing better available others should not dictate what others want to do or where they shop.

  28. Bruce said:

    Phil, the whole point Petco is making is that there are plenty of existing customers in the market. Your understanding that somehow people and bureacrats being able to control a retail market is a perfect example of why we are in this mess. Your reasoning that the market is not big enough for another pet store is ridiculous. Do you know that target, the retailer supported by the merchant association and(led by David heller heller who supported pet food express none the less) will have a bigger pet aisle than current existing pet stores in the neighborhood. Where is the outrage here? Oh right, there is none because Petco is the one who will kill the small retailers . To all you geniuses who think the money is not staying in the community if Petco opens as well are morons too. It is already leaving the neighborhood. Petco had opened these stores in daly city, menlo park and san jose and guess what other pet stores have made it? Know why? Because they offer service and quality and reasonable prices. The local pet stores here are awful and overpriced with average customer service. They are afraid because maybe they will actually have to work a bit harder, negotiate a bit more to keep customers. Competition is good for the market. Subsidies, controlling the market by restrictions has repeatedly been shown to fail. Personally, I think it is a shame that overeducated, namby, no common sense, morons think they understand how to run a free market. It’s America for god sakes. Freedom of choice. Vote with your wallets. Joshua, you are right on and I am with you. The people trying to stop this are speaking for those who are out working but don’t have the luxury to fight everything and anything new because they have no life and nothing else to do and likely pay very little tax, contribute nothing to the Economy other than slowing it down. People you must realize this mentality kills the neighborhood. Businesses thrive with competition not the absence of it. Stop thrr nanny state politics and let people think for themselves. And Marr, you suck. And you people who are trying to keep everyone out to protect one person are no different than corrupt corporations protecting their interests unfairly. Your hypocrisy is laughable . Move to china if you are so appreciative of socialist policies.

  29. brian said:

    I’m going to close my lock shop on the first. I just wanted to let everyone who has supported me to know. I still think it’s bad for business to just let store fronts sit empty and let the neighborhood decline. But for you guys who belive we should take the old Walgreen’s location and make a mini mall out of it so we can have a bunch of mom and pop boutiques all I can say is good luck with that.

    And by the way, for all you who supposedly respect small businesses. Why is it that when ever you called me to open your door or fix a lock you always tried to talk me down in price. It wasn’t because my prices were higher then the competition because I’ve checked and I already have low prices. It’s because the reason you like small businesses is so you can bully them around. See you wouldn’t go to petco, or to Safeway or Walgreen’s and ask for a lower price but more often then not I got asked if I would give a break because someone was a neighbor.

    Somehow we can support 15 banks along Geary who bring no money to the neighborhood. We can have a money transfer business on every block and they send their money over seas. We can have so many coffee houses I can’t even count them all, and barber shops and nail saloons and about 400 restaurants. But I, who have a unique service and who lives and works in the district can’t make it.

    So I wish you all you Koolaid drinkers luck. Here’s what you can find now that have driven me out of the neighborhood. http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/7_on_your_side&id=5595259

  30. Barbara said:

    I’m not sure why it has to be “us” or “them.” Isn’t there some way both Petco and smaller stores can both do well? Starbucks and Peet’s are on Geary, as are several smaller coffee houses that all seem to be doing fine. They appeal to different popoulations, they offer slightly different merchandise, and they’re all doing OK.

    Like several of you, I am very concerned about how run-down Geary has become. We live in a neighborhood where houses sell for over $1M, yet our main shopping street looks like trash. There’s gotta be a way to improve Geary, not drive out small businesses, and also allow some brand name stores to come here, too. There are plenty of other neighborhoods in both SF and other cities where companies large and small coexist. Why not on Geary?

    And, BTW, where are the Geary Blvd. Merchants Assn. and Planning Assn. for the Richmond when we need them? Shouldn’t they be leading the fight to improve Geary?

  31. Phil said:

    Brian, I for one am sorry to see you leave. I have been to your shop several times and bought keys from you. As for those who wanted you to lower your prices, I think that’s rude! If someone said to you, “Brian, I’d like you to install locks in my entire house, but can you give me a small break on extra keys” – that’s one thing, but to ask for a general discount on all work is just wrong.

    I was in retail for a long time, in another city. I can tell everyone here from experience that most locals do not support local retail – not any more. That’s why I rail against Petco. Stop asking for discounts from local retailers unless you give back a very large volume of business!

    One thing I know for sure; local retail struggles because we have let the Targets, WalMarts, and other large chains dominate our consumerist culture. It’s all about the price – other value, like well made product and service don’t seem to matter any more.

    I’m willing to bet that if Petco comes in they will have one basic pet commodity item sale after another and slowly bleed the local pert stores dry.

    We do not have to accept that chains will run everything, but the stores that survive will survive – as the chains do – because people support them at the cost of supporting their local merchants.

    Brian, I wish you the very best, and if you’re still watching this board, please let us know if you are going to continue your business on a contract or on-call basis. I will certainly keep yuor contact information and pass it on to others.

  32. Phil said:

    Bruce, I hope you feel better after that rant. Also, you are wrong about “free markets”. There is no such thing. Whatever gave you the idea that America is a “free market” economy? I’m not going to do the research for you, because I’m weary of educating people who have their minds made up.

    Joshua, I am sorry that you have stooped to personal attack; that’s the sign of someone who is losing an argument. The fact is that chain stores *do* drive out and replace local business. How do you think the chains continue to prosper? WallMart, for example, has emptied entire small cities of retail structure. You are letting emotion get the best of you. Please shop at your local pet shop and ask the owner for improvements; if you become a regular customer then you will find a real person willing to please. These shops are your neighbors – support them, instead of abandoning them to save $2 on a bag of dog food or cat litter. That’s not cool.

    Barbara, Local retail merchant associations are usually toothless, and mere formalities. Ours is no different. What we should be doing is soliciting businesses – even chain stores – that don’t conflict with businesses that are already here. Would that be so difficult? Supervisor Marr should know some people at City Hall in the development group who have business contacts, or who would be able to suggest ways that the Richmond can clean up its act. One thing that needs to happen is that business landlords **need to maintain their properties**. They should be *required*, with fines for not complying. I see many storefronts on Geary and Clement that are run down; that is not necessary. We night even have our city development group go door to door to suggest how to make a retail window attractive with color, and how to appropriately use lighting to attract attention. How about “Richmond Day” sales, where all Richmond merchants offer something for sale, or a slight discount. How about “retail fair day”. Not all these ideas are good, but let’s get thinking about how to reignite this neighborhood. Supervisor Marr?

    Last, in a certain post (now thankfully removed) someone accused Chinese citizens of being “cheap”. First, that’s uncalled for (I’m not Chinese btw). Second, the market economies in Asia are largely negotiation based. Fixed retail prices are more the exception than the rule. Same in large parts of Russia, South America, Africa, and even small pockets within Europe. If you grow up in a culture like that it becomes 2nd nature to bargain for price. That’s why so many Americans are taken for suckers in these cultures, because they don’t understand how to negotiate with foreign retail vendors. Anyway, people are just doing what they learned to do. It’s not necessary to slam an entire culture for a single behavior that one does not resonate with. It’s not right. Remember, Chinese immigrants built large parts of San Francisco and America’s first transnational railroad line. Stop calling your neighbors “cheap”. It’s not accurate, and it’s not right.

  33. Barbara said:

    Phil, Thanks for your thoughtful and helpful suggestions. I’m with you on the need to improve Geary with incentives, creativity, and elbow grease. There’s gotta be a way for Supervisor Mar to work with the Geary Blvd. Merchants Association,the businesses, both large and small, on Geary, and residents to improve this beautiful boulevard. How about asking the corporate establishments like Walgreens, Citibank, etc., to get involved locally? That’s where the money is, so lets see if they can lend a hand. Some kind of public-private partnership might be just what we need.

    The Richmond District is a very special place. It’s bordered by two of the City’s most beautiful parks as well as the the Pacific Ocean. It has some of the best architecture in the City, the restaurants are terrific, and best of all it has a delightful and interesting diverse population. We have artists, business people, lawyers, doctors, students, retired folks. You name it. So many wonderful people, so much potential. Let’s put our heads together and make things happen.

  34. Pat A said:

    Just read this and wanted you to know that I live in Arlington, VA where an Unleashed just opened directly across the street from TWO family owned pet related businesses (a well established pet supply store and a cute bakery/boutique). It is VERY apparent to our residents that this location was chosen specifically because of these two businesses.

    Unleashed plays dirty. At their opening, they sent “representatives” with car size balloon attached to them to stand directly in front of these two businesses and hand out coupons to their store. A bunch of us called to complain. However, they did the same the next day. It probably did them more harm then good. I know a lot of people and none of us will ever set foot in that store now.

    But the point is that if they will continue to play dirty wherever they open. If you want to have small businesses, you have to support them. I know I will here in Arlington (especially since they showed how predatory they are).

  35. Brian said:

    @ Phil. Yes I’m still around. I am mobile. It kind of defeats the purpose of what I wanted though which was to be a place that people could come to and feel safe. So many locksmiths are scam artists especially those who list in the phone book. One doesn’t know what they are in for when they hire a locksmith out of the phone book. BBB listings, licensing etc. mean nothing unless you do the research and during an emergency one doesn’t have the time.

    I fixed hundred year old locks and did lock outs for elderly who came to my shop. Now they are going to have to take their chances.

    I even wish that the walgreens space was used for a stanley locksmith chain store. Anything. But now it’s just sitting empty along with a dozen the other similar sized stores and even more smaller ones and all you guys can think about is restricting business instead of welcoming it. If a Stanly locksmith super store moved in you could bet that ACE and others would make a stink, as would any other store. When does it end?

    If you get a mini mall in there it’s just going to look like crap. And you’ll have to multiply it by every large retail space sitting empty in the district so that you can keep out the so called “formula” retail. That’s going to deter even more business from wanting to invest in the area.

    The real magnet to the area use to be the theater and how long has that been decaying into a pile of crap. Mar say end of the year they are going to start work on it. Then something won’t pull through and another year will go by and another. Give me a break.

    San Francisco was a world class city that use to have a reputation for being fun, for being glamorous, and sophisticated. Now it’s a dump that looks more run down every day. Do you want to continue to watch it decline? Keep on with your leftist policies and it will. Become friendlier to business, bring back jobs, be less restrictive and you bring back the fun, the glamor and reputation that SF use to be known for. People need jobs and money to make the city vibrant. Why can’t you understand that?

    I don’t know why people come here any more. I’m a native and I’m embarrassed to say I’m from here.

  36. Alex said:

    The Richmond District once again does not need Petco what the Richmond District needs is a store strong enough to attract more customers and that store would be Apple.

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