Owner Kelly Jones poses next to what she says is the most popular spot for Instagram photos in her shop. Photo by Julian Mark

Little Paper Planes, among the most “Instagrammable” boutiques on Valencia Street, will be closed by July after five years on the corridor and more than a decade online.

“I can’t do it any longer,” said Kelly Jones, the store’s owner.

Sales have declined in the last two years, and Jones said she is ready to turn the page. “San Francisco doesn’t support art and small businesses anymore,” she said.

Little Paper Planes, with its handmade art, apparel and jewelry, was never short of foot traffic, but Jones said that didn’t exactly translate into revenue. “I think people just like to take pictures here for Instagram,” she said.

“People love the store, but at the end of the day they’re not supporting us,” she said. “We can’t survive on people saying they like us.”    

Jones, 40, started her store 14 years ago online after she graduated from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Five years ago, she moved into her storefront on 20th and Valencia streets.

“All of this was built upon the idea of supporting artists,” she said.

There is, however, a silver lining for Jones. Come July, she plans to teach art at an elementary school in Los Angeles and focus on her own artwork. Since January, she has been hosting after-school programs geared toward art, and that’s partly what gave her the idea.

Jones will move to Los Angeles with her 2½-year-old son and her husband, an art preparator at SFMOMA.

“San Francisco is not friendly to people who don’t make a lot of money,” she said.

Working the back of her store on Thursday afternoon, she told Mission Local that she worried about retail on Valencia and throughout the city. “I know a handful of small businesses on the street that are struggling,” she said.

Just last month, Mission De Flores shuttered its last store. “There’s no future in retail in San Francisco,” its owner Steven Rubenfaer said shortly before the closing. “It’s a very unfriendly environment.”

When Jones made her announcement on Instagram on Wednesday, fans and patrons lamented its closing.

“When I first got the internet and a computer I discovered LPP and it was one of my first bookmarks I ever did,” wrote Eliza Lozano. “It was definitely one of the first small shops I knew of that gave me an idea of what I wanted to do with art and my work.”

“So saddened by this news,” wrote Claire McGibbon. But, she added, “I have a feeling the next chapter will be just as creative as the last … ”

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. For some reason I’d just remembered LPP today and came to have a look for them.

    They had loads of great art stuff.

    I remember ordering stuff from them online back in 2005, like a t-shirt with a black xerox print of Mickey Mouse with a bleeding nose, postcards, prints, etc.

    They used to put in little freebies in with your order like herbal teabags and sweets.

    Such a shame to hear about them closing (even though I am 3 years late to the news).

    Love from Scotland.