The clothing and accessories shop Multikulti, which has been on Valencia Street for the past 16 years, is shutting its doors in a month and a half, its owner said, because of a rent spike.
“The rent is gonna increase,” said Reda Darwish, adding that he was presented with a three-year lease option that would have cost him $5,000 a month – too much for the costume shop to afford.
Even with that guarantee, the rent would likely have gone up more after that, he said. “I know after these three years it’s gonna jump to double.”
Multikulti, located at 539 Valencia St. near 16th Street, is filled with items for festival-goers, Burners, or quirky clothing aficionados. Groucho Marx noses, masquerade masks, and other costume parts are half off before the closure, and the mannequins themselves were on sale – $5 for a plastic leg, $3 for a torso.
The rest of the store’s items are full price, though they were vanishing on Wednesday as customer after customer came in to say goodbye.
“What! What! It’s for real?” said one woman, her arms outstretched.
“I know, I know,” Darwish said. “It’s been a long time here.”
The shop is one of a few weird spots left on Valencia Street, customers said.
“It’s just not your typical Valencia Street shop,” said Julie Mahony, who was buying a pair of pig-patterned socks and a lunchbox made to look like a first-aid kit. Mahony, who has been coming to the shop for 15 years, said it did not sell “overpriced furniture” and was not filled with “reclaimed wood” like other outlets on the street. She would shop here for costume parts or other knickknacks, and lamented the loss.
“I will always think of you when I wear these socks,” she said as she left.
Randy Jimenez, the manager of the clothing and accessories store Therapy two doors down, said he used to go to the shop often in his drag queen days to buy quality makeup instead of going to expensive stores downtown. He said Multikulti and Therapy were among the “last few” quirky shops on the corridor.
“He kind of held that eccentric Valencia Street feel — and it’s gone,” he said. “It’s a sign of the times.”
Darwish would change the shop often. When he first opened before 2000, it had some musical instruments and dancing accessories, he said, and the jewelry that still sits in display cases. Based on customer feedback, he began adding items, particularly geared towards the festival-going crowd.
“Some people like stuff for Burning Man, some stuff for going to festivals — so I changed the merchandise,” he said. “It was fun.”
Darwish said the landlord was selling the building and that his long-term future at the spot would have been uncertain. The shop’s last day will be December 31, and his own plans for the future, it seems, are unclear as well. As one customer said, the only certainty on Valencia Street is change.
“That’s the thing with Valencia Street,” said Atoya Gibson, who has been coming to the shop for 10 years and lives around the corner. “Every other month things are changing. Nothing lasts.”
Come to Oakland!
Ugh. He was such a nice man and I loved shopping there.