Photo by Jamie Goldberg

The days leading up to Christmas have been good to neighborhood businesses, with stores across the neighborhood reporting an increase in foot traffic, sales and the kind of frenzy that small-business owners appreciate.

“We’ve been getting slammed, there are a lot of last-minute shoppers, and so many people picking up pre-orders or layaway orders that we are all working extra hours to keep up,” said Alexa Trevino, a worker at Artillery Apparel Gallery at 2751 Mission St.

“There’s not enough hours in the day,” she added.

Foot traffic at Artillery has increased by roughly 15 percent this month compared to November, according to Trevino, and sales are also up, by approximately 35 percent compared to last month. Customers are spending on average $20 to $35 on T-shirts and roughly $200 on outfits.

At nearby Room4, 904 Valencia Street, business has been just as good, but the staff is used to the holiday rush.

“Christmas is always demanding, especially if you are on Valencia,” said employee David Marks.

Allan Horrocks, who works at Aquarius Records, 1055 Valencia St., agreed, adding that “Valencia Street is a tourist attraction, and is on many hotel brochures as a place to visit, so between that, the local community and the history of this place, people come here regardless for the new trendy restaurants and hip stores they hear or read about.”

Another reason for the increase in sales is that people in San Francisco love to support local artists and businesses, said Mia Gonzalez, the owner of Encantada Gallery of Fine Arts on Valencia Street.

“They are looking for things that are unique, not things you can find at your local Macy’s,” she said.

At Pawn Brokers, 2318 Mission St., customers have been choosing to spend more on fewer items.

“People are looking to buy that one big gift this year, not a lot of small ones,” says Victor Pizarro, who works at the shop.

“This year, the main gifts people are buying here are gold, guitars and, contrary to popular belief, ukuleles,” he said.

As good as business has been in the neighborhood, Gonzalez and other business owners still feel that things like the lack of parking are preventing sales from being great.

“The parking here is horrible,” she said, “and no one wants to shop in a place you can’t pack the family in the car and have a day out without worrying about street parking and those darn parking meters.”

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

That doesn’t stop staff at La Argentina gift shop on 24th Street from being optimistic. To lure shoppers into the store, they reward them with a free holiday T-shirt for purchases of $20 or more.

Although he said it was hard to tell whether the promotion was working for the business, Javier, an employee, sold a $45 jersey to a customer during our interview.

Back at Artillery, where the cumbia music was playing and Ivan Lopez, the store’s T-shirt artist, was backed up on T-shirt orders, Trevino was happy that the end of the holiday season is near.

“Saturday is the last big shopping day; we can finish up all of our sales and go home to chill with the family and enjoy the end of the week,” she said.

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1 Comment

  1. This quote made me smile: “This year, the main gifts people are buying here are gold, guitars and, contrary to popular belief, ukuleles,” he said.

    Are we in the midst of a ukelele renaissance?

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