Since a five-alarm fire ravaged nearly an entire block – destroying a handful of businesses and displacing some 60 residents – where the Mission and Bernal Heights neighborhoods meet, local merchant and neighbor Eden Stein has worked tirelessly to help her community heal.
In the weeks after the fire, Stein opened her storefront at 3235 Mission St. to the fire victims, city leaders, and local merchants, enabling them to connect and exchange resources. She has launched fundraising efforts to support local merchants in the small commercial strip that continue to suffer from the fire’s aftermath, and as head of the Mission-Bernal Merchants Association, worked to beautify the neighborhood by placing art installations where the fire struck.
On Friday, Stein’s retail space and art gallery, Secession, will celebrate its 10th anniversary in the neighborhood and again, Stein hopes for an opportunity to bring her neighbors together.
“I’m trying to think of Secession as a community space,” said Stein, who will be holding a fundraiser inside of her boutique and gallery from 6 -9 p.m. to ensure that her business will “survive San Francisco” for decades to come.
A recent attempted break-in, said Stein, as well as the continuously changing face of retail, has presented some challenges and set-backs for the small-business owner.
“In the middle of the night, someone tried to pry the door open and broke our glass essentially. They weren’t able to get in because I have commercial glass (plexiglass) … That was lucky,” said Stein. “It would have really destroyed a lot of art and probably broken our jewelry cases.”
Still, Stein had not budgeted for the damage caused by the would-be burglar. “Something like this can put a small business owner behind. You think its a small plate of glass but that can slow you in you tracks,” she said.
Since the attempted break-in, Stein has launched a fundraising campaign to cover the costs and to expand her vision for Seccession as a community space. With the goal of raising $10,000, Stein has so far received some $2,100 in community contributions, and said she will use some of the money to add another person to her team and to install benches in her art gallery for community members to use.
Stein said she will task local furniture maker Urban Beaver with creating the benches, sourced from reclaimed Barn Wood.
“All the things that we can do with benches – we can host many different events,” said Stein. “A lot of retail is closing all over San Francisco…you really have to think outside of the box. “
“People are shopping online,” she added. “I really want to continue with Secession as an in-person experience and getting to that every day [interaction] with customers and neighbors being able to check in with eachother.”
Secession Art and Design will hold its 10th anniversary party and fundraiser on Friday, Aug. 4, from 6-9 p.m. at 3235 Mission St.