Avi Ehrlich stands with a striped pink baseball bat within his store on Valencia Street.
Avi Ehrlich said they have enjoyed cutting their own hair during the pandemic by putting a rubber band around their head and cutting under it with clippers. Photo by Juan Carlos Lara.

Avi Ehrlich, 38, the owner of the Silver Sprocket comics store, first moved into the storefront at 1038 Valencia St. near 21st Street in February 2020, sharing the space with 1-2-3-4 Go! Records. 

“All over the place, holy shit,” is how they described the last 14 months. 

Mayor London Breed’s announcement of the shelter in place order last March came less than a week before Silver Sprocket’s planned grand opening, forcing the business to shutter before it truly opened. 

The next big shock came when 1-2-3-4 Go! Records moved everything from the Valencia space to another location in Oakland. 

“We were left like, ‘OK, cool, guess we got a storefront,’” Ehrlich said. 

Though foot traffic died down for months and hasn’t yet fully recovered, demand for literature increased dramatically, and Silver Sprocket received a majority of its business through mail orders.

“We curate a lot of indie comics that you can’t get on Amazon or anywhere else on the internet,” Ehrlich said. 

Graphic novels also offered escapism.

As the city gradually emerges from the pandemic, Silver Sprocket had its best sales month to date, Ehrlich said, and now the business is planning to move a few doors down to 1018 Valencia St., a space that is roughly twice the size, vacated by Jungmann’s Appliance more than a year ago.

“Our landlord passed away during the pandemic, and it seems like his family wants to sell the space,” Ehrlich said to explain the move. 

Luckily, the pandemic has made rents more reasonable. 

“Valencia is all bougie or whatever, but it’s also a big ole’ stretch of small businesses with no formula retail,” Ehrlich said. “I live across the street, and it’s my favorite neighborhood to hang out in.” 

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Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at Golden Gate Xpress, SF State’s student paper.

Tips can be sent to juancarlos.lara@missionlocal.com
Tweets can be found at @jcl_scoop

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  1. Thanks so much for covering Silver Sprocket! Great business and I didn’t know they existed till halfway through the pandemic since I wasn’t leaving the house so much.