File photo by Gregory Woods

If you think you’re going catch great holiday sales in the Mission after Thanksgiving, here’s what Mission retail stores have to say about that: Those are for department stores.

“We almost never have sales,” said Ginno Bergunio, store manager for Self Edge clothing at 714 Valencia St. Last year was the first time they had a 10 percent Black Friday sale, as a thank-you to loyal customers. “I don’t think we are going to do it again,” he said. They’ve already had two end-of-the season sales.

Alix Jiang, a retail worker at Hanger 16, which opened in January at 3128 16th St., said the small staff and the nature of their merchandise — most of which is handmade — makes it hard for them to do sales. Instead, they, cater “to a specific audience that keeps the business afloat.”

Ruth Mahaney, part-owner of Modern Times bookstore, agreed. “We just can’t afford to give discounts,” said Mahaney, who moved her store to 24th Street this year after the rent jumped at its old location on Valencia Street.

A woman who has worked at Encantada Gallery of Fine Arts at 904 Valencia St. for 14 years explained the predicament of the small store.

“We are neighborhood shops, [we] don’t operate in a corporate way,” she said. “The good thing about this neighborhood is that they are loyalists, they like to support small businesses … they look for the unique, they want to know if the product is green. You just can’t ask for discounts on special stuff like that, especially from small businesses.”

Though discounts may be hard to come by, Jiang, Bergunio and Mahaney still expect a bump in sales from the holiday foot traffic and tourism.

Max Pollock, a worker at Density clothing store at 593 Valencia St., said that “with gentrification there has been a lot more foot traffic, making the Mission more touristy.”

That change began in the late 1990s, when real estate prices tripled during the dot-com boom. The 2010 Census confirmed a more permanent change. While the Mission was once nearly 50 percent Latino, that share has dropped to 39 percent. White residents have increased by 4.9 percent and residents with bachelor’s degrees by 11 percent.

The change has been accompanied by a sharp increase in coffee shops, small stores and restaurants.

For people like Connie Rivera, manager of Mixcoatl Arts & Crafts gift store at 3201 24th St. near South Van Ness Avenue, foot traffic and tourists from Valencia and Mission streets don’t bring many customers her way.

“Black Friday and Christmas season is a hit-or-miss for us,” she said. “People come down 24th Street, but not like Mission or Valencia, so we don’t usually see an increase in sales; we kind of stay steady all year around.”

Still others are optimistic about seasonal sales. Benny Gold, owner of Benny Gold’s Limited Edition Collective Streetware on 16th Street, said, “This season is going to be a profitable one.”

Added Mahaney: “Supporting small businesses in the Mission is supporting the community.”

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  1. This is a good time to point out that Live Local is a buy local card that supports local Mission businesses. Buy it at many of the 34 local businesses that participate and get discounts of 10-15% off all year long at the businesses. /plug.


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