Chain stores on Valencia? NFW, says writer-activist

San Francisco writer and activist Stephen Elliott whose Progressive Reading Series raises money for progressive causes and candidates, and who just founded the online magazine The Rumpus, walked up Valencia St. the other day and saw this:

Click for a full-size version

According to the notice, the American Apparel chain of clothing stores wants to open a branch on Valencia St., next to Artists Television Access. Appalled at this prospect, Elliott is organizing people to show up at the February 5 hearing and voice their opposition.

How did you find out about it?

I walked by. I live here. The sign was just posted in the window for the planning commission hearing. I walked by once and I was like, “that sucks.” Then I walked back and looked at the sign, and I thought, “No. I’m too busy starting The Rumpus.” Then I went back a third time and I was like, “No. I’m not letting this happen. No way.”

This is not about American Apparel specifically. It’s about big box mega-chain stores opening on Valencia Street. And I mean, it’s not like you can’t shop American Apparel in San Francisco. There are already THREE American Apparels in San Francisco.

So far we’ve designed posters, put up a website, and organized an event at Amnesia.

So you’re having a benefit event at Amnesia on Feb. 2?

It’s not really a benefit. It’s a rally. (I paid) to do a rush job on 2,000 postcards and 500 posters. We might need to print some more posters, so there might be a small cover. But I promise I won’t be making any money on the event. The point of everything is to raise awareness, get people to the planning hearing at City Hall February 5, at 1:30pm, and make sure David Campos, our supervisor, knows that the neighborhood will not accept this.

Everybody is recognizing that this would devastate the neighborhood. In a globalizing world places like Valencia Street are becoming rarer and rarer. People shop on Valencia for stuff they can’t find anywhere else. That’s the whole point.

What will the event at Amnesia be like?

I don’t have the full lineup for the event yet. But it’s going to be awesome, I promise. Martin from The Makeout Room, Eileen from Ritual Roasters, and Shawn from Amnesia Bar, are all helping out. (Watch stopamericanapparel.wordpress.com) where there’ll be fresh information.

Aside from the issue of the store, this is an interesting illustration of using internet tools to publicize something.

I’ve sent out a lot of emails and it’s going viral very quickly. I sent it out out to the Progressive Reading Series email list. Also there’s a facebook group. But it’s like porn or something, you put it up and everybody’s already into it. If you live in the Mission this is an easy sell.

Sounds like you have everything but a YouTube video.

That’s right. We need someone with some initiative and a camera to make a Youtube video.

I’ll include that in the interview too.

Thanks for helping spread the word.

6 Comments so far

  1. Tara Tiger Brown (tarabrown) on January 19th, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

    Right on. You let one chain store in and then they all come in. Don’t we ban Walmart and Home Depot, etc. from having a presence in the city?


  2. Word of Mouth « Stop American Apparel 988 Valencia (pingback) on January 20th, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

    […] to spread, people want to keep Valencia street locally owned. Check out what people are saying here and […]


  3. Links in the Bay Area - Journalism is All Around « “Community Funded Reporting” (pingback) on January 24th, 2009 @ 3:53 pm

    […] Chain stores on Valencia? NFW, says writer-activist I saw this too and I’m not thrilled. The issue of gentrification in the Mission is…. NOT typical of other hipster areas which might otherwise embrace an American Apparel. I’ve emailed once before with the writer Stephen Elliott, I’ll reach out to him again. […]


  4. American Apparel Ruffles Some Feathers In San Francisco (pingback) on February 3rd, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

    […] – San Francisco Metblogs […]


  5. BREAKING: Planning Commission denies permit to American Apparel | San Francisco Metblogs (pingback) on February 5th, 2009 @ 10:49 pm

    […] than a month after local writer-activist Stephen Elliott began organizing a campaign against a proposed American Apparel store on Valencia St., the San Francisco Planning Commission denied a […]


  6. Old-school hipsters vs. neo-Hipsters; community independent businesses vs. progressive chain store…it’s The Mission vs. American Apparel. | elephant journal (pingback) on February 6th, 2009 @ 8:00 am

    […] no relation to one another. Excerpt: KRON 4 dares to bravely go where the blogs have already been. Incredulity is expressed that people might oppose the opening of an international chain store in […]



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