After 20 Plus Years in SF, Ruby on 20th Will Close

Ruby at 3602 20th Street. Photo by Lydia Chávez

For 20 plus years, Laura James has lived in the building upstairs and run Ruby, her boutique gallery downstairs. Now, she’s calling it quits.

A rent hike was not the problem – although any increase was impossible to bear because revenues have dropped every year since 2010, said James.

But instead of blaming Ruby’s demise on the rent, she attributed it to  competition from Amazon and other on-line behemoths. “Our lobby is filled with meals in boxes, clothes in boxes, just filled with boxes,” said James. Everyone, she added, just calls in their purchases and has them delivered.

James said her best year was probably 2009 because the recession hit San Francisco later. But by 2010, she felt the slowdown and business has worsened every year. She said that while her new tech neighbors might have the money to frequent small boutiques, they have little time to shop during the week and appear to enjoy other activities on the weekends.

“They work so much,” she said of her tech neighbors. “tech is the new slavery.”

Regardless she had invited everyone to drop by on the 31st for cocktails and goodbyes.  Another Mission store – Campfire Gallery – closed its doors on Sunday.  And at the end of December, the Touch on Mission Street also closed. 

As for her future, James said she’s been testing out a bone broth business and she will be doing some traveling.

Laura James, the owner of Ruby on 20th Street,

Laura James, the owner of Ruby on 20th Street,

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4 Comments

  1. Lisa Moresco

    Such is the times, same story since I was a small business owner in Noe 15 years ago. A ridiculous dependence on Amazon now.

    btw, love the comments policy!

  2. Chad Russo

    Very sad. Amazon means money sucked right out of the SF economy and deposited in faraway lands à la Uber/Lyft.

  3. We are losing our soul, and I don’t know how it will ever come back.

  4. John Thompson

    I love the owners atitude. If the retail biz isn’t working, she is going another direction and starting a bone broth business. I wish more folks would have this attitude. When what you are doing isn’t working, don’t complain, just figure out a different way to make life work. It’s still sad the store is closing.

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