Despite rain and frost, shops on Valencia Street that offered holiday bargains watched sales soar on Friday and Saturday as customers scored warm comforts. Stores without discounts got a cold shoulder.
Aside from clothes that could fend off record low temperatures and sporadic rain, consumers looked to small Valencia Street shops to find the unique and odd on Black Friday, owners and clerks said. Buyers weren’t interested in bikes or furniture, but owners of shops that failed to do well said they are looking for robust sales from local shoppers at the Mission Holiday Block Party, a one-night shopping crawl on Friday, December 10.
“People’s moms have been coming in, looking for winter coats,” said Summer Krounbi, 22, at Clothes Contact near 16th and Valencia, which offers most of its secondhand clothing for $10 per pound. “And a lot of foreigners, it seemed.”
Perhaps they were caught off-guard by the chilly Thanksgiving holiday — only 42 degrees in San Francisco. Many shopkeepers said people came in seeking warm clothes and goodies for themselves.
Nooworks, a four-month-old store at 15th Street, did double its normal business on Friday, selling clothing marked down to $10 and $20. The biggest sale was a pair of Jeffrey Campbell boots for $182.
At Weston Wear near 17th Street, a woman spent $450 to revise her wardrobe, an improvement on last year’s “calm” Black Friday, according to sales clerk Jen Judge, 25. Self Edge at 18th Street had an 11-percent-off “Let’s Drink” sale with booze on hand, and co-owner Kiya Babzani said they managed to sell “a few” $900 peacoats for men.
At the vintage NO Shop, Leah Edwina Martin, 28, said they don’t sell anything “really gifty,” but she got a pleasant $44 surprise sale. “Somebody finally bought the baby blue leather mini dress. I had been wondering who was going to buy that.”
Despite selling more than usual, NO still didn’t rake in the cash. “We sold a lot of stuff for $5.”
Other vintage and used clothing stores didn’t fare as well.
Buffalo Exchange at 23rd experienced an increase in stock as people used the four-day weekend to bring in clothing to sell to the store.
Only a few people were thinking of gifts for others. At Therapy‘s clothing store between 16th and 17th streets, a woman came in looking for a $35 necklace her friend had admired. Salesperson Marnie O’Bannion, 24, said they sold a lot of “stocking-stuffer” items, jewelry and hats.
Parents were out shopping for their kids. Speesees children’s store at 25th Street was packed on Saturday with parents taking advantage of a 30-percent-off sale. The most popular item? “Bear jackets!” said Rachel Pearson, a designer.
That $46 bear jacket may cost an American Express customer only $21, thanks to a special small business promotion called “Small Business Saturday.”
“We were purposely closed on Black Friday because we wanted to celebrate Small Business Saturday,” said Pearson.
American Express cardholders were eligible for a $25 credit if they preregistered for the promotion and then spent at least $25 at a small business today.
Alternative Design Studio Hats, a tiny shop at 15th Street, was also closed on Black Friday. But they were bringing in an extra staff member for Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday was on the minds of several shopkeepers who expressed ambivalence about the event. Most don’t accept American Express. “We don’t like American Express, actually,” said Bernard Wetsch of Schauplatz vintage clothing at 19th Street. “They charge us too much.”
“I’ve been doing (news) blasts on Facebook, trying to get the word out about Small Business Saturday, but we don’t accept American Express,” said Nooworks’ Gwen Lutz, 33. “That’s funny.”
At one of the few shops that does accept American Express, the Scarlet Sage Herb Co. between 22nd and 23rd, co-owner Dino Lucas said no one had used the promotion. The crowded, honey-smelling store had many customers who were in town visiting relatives. They bought teas and spices, but only one mentioned reading about Small Business Saturday in the paper.
At 20th Street, Encantada Gallery’s Mia Gonzalez also attributed the surge in customers to visiting relatives. Her best sale Friday? Hand-carved art pieces from Oaxaca.
Therapy’s home store sold out of a different sort of unique item, according to manager Darlene Kong, 25: two-foot-tall plastic dogs at $340 each.
It wasn’t a big weekend on Valencia for furniture or appliances, except at discount stores.
While the Salvation Army Thrift Store at 26th Street earned more than usual from discounted used furniture and appliances, business was slow for the higher-end Harrington Galleries on the corner of 17th Street.
Cherin’s Appliance by 18th had many customers on Black Friday, but still felt the strain of not being able to offer the “doorbuster deals” that chain stores do. One of the owners, Michael Cherin, sensed that his customers were eager for products with hefty rebate offers, but didn’t want to deal with the crowds at the other stores.
On Friday and Saturday, Valencia’s bicycle shops were quiet.
Mission Bicycle Company was closed on Black Friday. Freewheel had look-sees but no buyers. The shop isn’t launching its 2010 closeout sale until next Saturday. Valencia Cyclery owner Paul Olszewski said he put a few bikes on sale that would make nice Christmas presents, but had no takers.
Despite being a small business, “Ironically, this has been one of the slowest Saturdays we’ve ever seen,” Olszewski said.
At the stores without markdowns, Friday and Saturday were mainly business as usual. But owners and clerks have high hopes for another local shopping holiday.
Monument failed to make any sales on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, but its shopkeeper insisted, “When the Mission holiday event happens, then we’ll feel the local support.”