A pair of pink sparkly heels among the racks of vintage goods at Clothes Contact. The thrift store is set to close at the end of the year. Photo by Leslie Nguyen-Okwu.

On this Saturday afternoon it was still business as usual at Clothes Contact.

The eclectic thrift shop on Valencia Street was full of trendy teens, Burning Man fans and wandering tourists, all combing for hidden treasure buried within the racks of tie-dyed shirts, tweed suits, sequined prom dresses and vintage letterman jackets.

It’s a dying breed of thrift stores that sells used clothing by weight—the goods here go for $10 a pound. And in five months, Clothes Contact will close its doors for good.

“That looks like what my old schoolteacher Ms. Ratnick used to wear. She had a dress like this,” one woman exclaimed as she held up a buttercup yellow dress, knitted with flowers and small circle discs. “But she was mean,” she added, tossing the dress back on the hanger.

At the dressing rooms, another girl tried on floor-length floral dresses from the 1970s, examining possible outfits for an Edwardian-themed party.

“Yeah, you could. You could totally pull it off,” her male friend chimed in.

“Well, I did get my fluffy petticoat at Goodwill for $5,” she said aloud. “Let’s go.”

“Well, you gave it a shot,” he said as they left empty-handed.

Nearby, a woman struggled to put on sparkly pink heels that were one size too small.

“You got to just find the one that’s the winner, I guess,” she said as she moved on to the next pair of high heels.

But the colorful mood belied the somber expressions over at the checkout counter. Yusra, an employee, woefully made a sign:

“Dear Customer, thank you for ur moral support. Clothes Contact will stay open at least until the end of the year.”

The store has been doling out bulk fanny packs, Hawaiian shirts and tuxedo jackets for 28 years.

“All of our customers have been calling to support us,” said Yusra, who started working at the thrift store last month.

As she propped up the poster by the doorway, the wistful lyrics of Brazilian bossa nova played in the background—longing and lyrical.

“Meu violão e uma cruel desilusão foi tudo o que ficou, ficou pra machucar meu coração.”
My guitar and a cruel disappointment was all there was, there was to break my heart.

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  1. This is sad – Epicenter and now this all in that “building” to build more million dollar condos

  2. WHY is Clothes Contact closing? “Snapshot,” OK, got it, it’s well done as a mood piece but the story would be infinitely more useful with that information included. (Also, readers could appreciate the amusingly apt headline more if it were mentioned that the store sells literally tons of vintage curtains!) “Customers are calling to support us”—great, but it would be helpful to tell readers how to join that support. I called the store to find out. As many of us would guess, it is rising rent that may drive the store out. Customers can support Clothes Contact by buying there, and if the store does well enough, it may not have to shut its doors at the end of the year.

    1. Thanks for this info. The article was pretty useless and a little insufferable, like listening to some story on NPR. It is depressing what is happening in the Mission. The last thing we need in this time of borification is to lose another small business run by real human beings. Maybe something can be done to save CC in a way similar to how Adobe Books was preserved.

  3. This makes me sad. I’ve gotten a lot of great vintage clothes there over the years. Plus, another loss robbing the neighborhood of its personality.