The malling of San Francisco

National chain stores are flooding into a city that once led the nation in protecting neighborhood businesses and setting limits on commercial spaces

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The Metreon mall is being revived by a huge Target scheduled to open this fall. Will it put the city in chains?
GUARDIAN ILLUSTRATION BY DANNY HELLMAN

steve@sfbg.com

Shopping malls filled with national chain stores and restaurants are in many respects the antithesis of San Francisco. They're the bane of any metropolis that strives to be unique and authentic. And those just happen to be qualities that make tourism this city's number one industry.

The logic of modern capitalism, and its relentless growth into new markets, has already placed a Target or a Walmart, and a Nordstrom, Macy's, Ross, or a JCPenney — along with a bevy of Starbucks, Applebee's, Jamba Juice, and McDonald's and myriad other formulaic corporate eateries — in just about every town in the country.

Do people really need them here, too? And in a city renowned worldwide for its scenic beauty and temperate (albeit sometimes foggy) climate, do people want to shop in the enclosed, climate-controlled malls popularized in the small or suburban towns that many residents came here to escape?

For me, the answer is no. Frankly, malls have an aura of artificiality that gives me the creeps — but I freely acknowledge that not everyone feels that way. Some San Franciscans may like malls and chain stores while others don't.

But it doesn't really matter what any of us think. Left unchecked, it's the market that matters — and the logic of the market gives chain stores a huge competitive advantage over the mom-and-pops. Their labor and supply costs are lower, their financial resources are more extensive and appealing to commercial landlords, and their business models are based on constantly opening new stores.

All cities have to do is just say yes. And San Francisco has been increasingly saying yes to malls and chain stores.

The economic desperation that set in since the financial crash of 2008 has overcome the trend of resistance to so-called "formula retail establishments" that had been building in San Francisco during the years before the recession.

So now, rather than dying from neglect, the Metreon mall has been brought back to life by a huge Target store set to open this fall, the second Target (the other one at Masonic and Geary) going into a city that had once eschewed such national mega-retailers.

Just down the street, in the heart of the city's transit-rich commercial center, the CityPlace mall that had been abandoned by its previous owners after winning city approval two years ago is now being built by new owners and set to open next spring with "value-based" national chain stores like JCPenney.

Projects funded with public money aren't immune either. The new Transbay Terminal transit center now under construction will have its own mini-mall, with 225,000 square feet of retail, much of it expected to house national chains. Even more retail will be built on the ground floor of the dozen other nearby residential and office buildings connected to the project.

And it isn't just these new malls going in a stone's throw from the Westerfield Mall, Crocker Galleria, San Francisco Center, and other central city malls. All over town, national chains like the Whole Foods and Fresh & Easy grocery stores are replacing Cala Foods and other homegrown markets, or going into other commercial shells like the S&C Ford building on Market near the Castro.

Just a few years ago, the approval of Home Depot on Bayshore Boulevard (since then sold and opened as Lowe's, another national chain) was a hugely controversial project approved by the Board of Supervisors on a closely watched 6-5 vote. Now, Lennar is building an entire suburban-style complex of big box stores on Candlestick Point, hundreds of thousands of square feet — without much controversy at all.

Comments

thing? Doubtful

Was the writer attempting to link, associate, or equate corporate fascism with etatism? Who knows? matlock must think it means something and perhaps he will put it in his own words for us.

Thanks in advance matlock.

ps.: probably there's more possibilities than you've considered or -- just maybe -- are capable of understanding.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

You have such amazing (laughable) intellectual pretensions and yet you don't know who Daniel Bell is?

It is so interesting how the fringe right and left claim intellectualism (as illi does), and yet rely on a total lack of it to bully their way through things.

=====

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Bell

Daniel Bell
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named Daniel Bell, see Daniel Bell (disambiguation).
Daniel Bell
Born May 10, 1919
New York City, New York, United States
Died January 25, 2011 (aged 91)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Fields Sociology
Institutions University of Chicago, Columbia University, Harvard University
Alma mater City College of New York Columbia University
Known for Post-industrialism

Daniel Bell (May 10, 1919 – January 25, 2011)[1] was an American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor emeritus at Harvard University, best known for his seminal contributions to the study of post-industrialism. He has been described as "one of the leading American intellectuals of the postwar era."[2] His three best known works are The End of Ideology, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism.[3]

Posted by matlock on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

just like to see if you can put that in your own words. It makes more interesting reading... but you don't really care about that since your whole purpose here is to foul the pool, isn't it?

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

You did it in the post I was responding to, you said I was not smart enough to understand the world as you do.

Good lord you have some ego.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 8:39 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

To SF progressives "tolerance" isn't really tolerance of other people but a homogenization. SF progressives are not diverse in thinking, just as their right wing foes are not. Transtolerance is the tolerance to be of any race or identity as long as you agree with the whole program.

Quite simple eh?

A person who claims to be so much smarter than the rest of us should be able to grasp that.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

that I was smarter than all "the rest of us," but I will tell you I strongly suspect that generally speaking at least, I'm smarter than you.

Daniel Bell, on the other hand was no doubt an intelligent fellow, but I've learned that even (or perhaps especially) such people are quite capable of generating odiferous intellectual claptrap; i.e. "post-industrialism".

By the way, when the abbreviation "ed." follow the name, it means "editor."

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 4:52 am

I've never seen any evidence of that here.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 7:38 am

matlock, who cribbed some text from a book because it was gobblety-gook enough to convince him it bolstered his views, claimed its "author" was Daniel Bell, but Bell did *not* write it.

It is from an essay "The Revolt Against the Elite" by Peter Viereck

I needed to spell it out for you, I suppose.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 8:47 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 9:12 am

These claims were falsely attributed to me for the purpose of negation.

Now I'm being accused of being pedantic and petty.

The irony and humor derives from this being done in the context of a *pedantic* attempt to seem intelligent which went awry.

Petty of me to point that out, I'm sure. You jokers crack me up.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 10:53 am

I don't support or shop in corporate box stores and I don't support stores who support sit-lie (such as Cole Hardware, as one example). Corporate box stores are a blight on the planet. But as more and more sheep move into San Francisco because of gentrification, I suspect many/most will like the corporate box stores, especially the wealthy sheep who are corporatists themselves. Social responsibility will be a thing of the past as the city turns to the right.

Thanks for the article.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

In addition to your list I don't support stores which support PGE by purchasing power which isn't solar. This leaves me very short of options.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

But I bet you're smarmy self righteous ass will still be gentrifying the mission/bernal heights. Not too borrow from herb Caen but isn't it wonderful that people who hate big box stores don't shop there?

Posted by Greg on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

This is great. I go to Target regularly to save on common items like detergents, underwear, small appliances. I have a friend who saves big time on prescriptions.

But I am lucky enough to have a car and am able to pay $4 a gallon to get to Serramonte. Now families that don't have those advantages can also save some money at Target!

I haven't read the rest of this article but I'm sure that Steven will be talking about how great it is that lower income families will now have a way to reduce their daily expenses, right?

Or, don't tell me, he found a way to turn this into a bummer also??

Posted by Troll on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

vote GOP and shop at WalMart.

Steven loves those quirky SF stores but they typically sell luxury items and you need 200K pa to shop there.

Oh, delicious irony, thy name is Steven.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

Does anyone care that most of the junk sold in big corporate box stores contributes to the unemployment problem in the U.S. due to off-shoring? Do the corporate box store sheep ever make that connection? Because most of the stuff they carry in big corporate box stores is made off-shore (China, for example, with cheap/slave wages and poor working conditions). But unfortunately the sheep in the U.S. don't seem to care about that. It's all about them and their instant gratification.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

If Americans pay themselves too much for the value of their work then they can only blame themselves when they lose their jobs to more competitive workers, wherever they might be.

Nobody owes you a well-paid job if you're too pricey, and part of why I shop at WalMart is to help correct the disparity in value that exists globally.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

Buy that cheap shit and your are not really saving any money.

I bought crappy name brand shoes for years that lasted less than a year, bought some reeboks that have lasted three years for 1/4 more. Same with work boots, under which most Bay Guardian readers their food stamps are hidden.

I have bought shoddy construction stuff like gutters that should have lasted 30 years that likely made it 9.

America, we had a good run.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

item, I don't give a crap about "buying American" because I am not remotely interested in supporting uncompetitiveness.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

and the structures that support it helps me to understand why the majority of the American people are experiencing a declining quality of life - and their kids can expect much worse. It's because they think like you.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

it. Americans will only get my business if they're competitive. I'm not subsidizing adequacy but I will invest in superiority wherever it is found.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 7:41 am

I buy American if I can, I don't overly care if you do.

I don't like buying shirts that the buttons fall off of in a few months, shoes that fall apart in three months, tools that fall apart in your hands and are dangerous, building materials made of junk, etc... Chain food sucks and the atmosphere is sterile and creepy. You can go to a chain store and get some OK stuff or eat something that is passable, but in general it is all shit.

It's funny that films and TV mock the crappy status of the chain food and retail atmosphere and yet Americans eat it up still.

Unlike progressives I have no interest in legislating your life, but I get to notice shoddy quality of what chains offer.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

for what you're saying. The homogenization of food as well as the introduction of corn syrup subsidies has had a direct and very negative impact on the health of all Americans. The draining of dollars from localities by chain stores had impoverished so many cities, large and small - it's really indescribable. I'm 40 and I remember when almost everything was local and where shopping in a "big box" store was something done rarely - usually at the beginning of a school year. Now, for most families, it never ends and the vast majority of Americans are poorer and getting poorer. It's a vicious cycle which seems to have no bottom.

And I underline this by saying I'm wealthy by American standards, own my home and didn't grow up wealthy - but rather in a single parent household. My POV is not motivated by resentment of anyone but rather very deep concern for what I see as a great ethical and moral void in this country. Something along the way has gone very, very wrong and it just keeps getting worse.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

Let people vote with their dollars. Why should one group or another decide what is right for all. If people do not want a store don't shop there. What pisses off the people that don't want certain stores is most people do (or they would go out of business). Please leave my right for choice alone.

Posted by Bay guy on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

For those who say they don't care where things come from or are made, would you eat so-called "organic food" from China?... sold at corporate box store Whole Foods (a.k.a. Whole Paycheck).

Google: Organic food made in China ????Whole Foods Mkt - YouTube

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

where it's from. That said, the whole "organic" thing is a scam. All food is organic.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 7:47 am

Your willful-ignorance is noted. Make sure you don't click on the following link because it might educate you. And wingnuts oppose education and facts. As for the others on here:

China’s Organic Standards in Question, Exports to U.S. Banned
http://www.organicauthority.com/blog/organic/chinas-organic-standards-in...

"Growing concern over mislabeling and loose organic standards throughout China has led to a significant decrease in exports to the U.S. and European markets."

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

Cala Foods in the Castro and Tower Market on Twin Peaks went from being locally-owned to being locally-owned when they were bought by Mollie Stones.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

Someone mentioned corporate chain store Mollie Stones. It's a corporate chain store despite being a "local business." They have 9 stores with a corporate office. It's corporate. That's part of the problem here. Just because they are a "local business" does not necessarily make them a good choice for socially-conscious people.

As compared to non-corporate, socially-conscious, non-chain, independent Rainbow Grocery Cooperative where the workers are the owners.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

and limited to one establishment only? Ridiculous - by that standard Cole Hardware should be shunned.

I eat meat and Rainbow doesn't sell meat - thus they limit my right to chose meat. They're also expensive and the workers are surly PC assholes who consider themselves above their customers. At Mollie Stone's I can get whatever I want and be helped by pleasant people who don't consider it part of their jobs to "educate" me about my choices.

Plus Mollie Stone's in the Castro will give you a ride home when you're done shopping. Rainbow makes you feel like shit for using their parking lot. Considering those choices is it any wonder people chose Mollie Stone's over Rainbow?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

Rainbow is not expensive. They keep their prices low deliberately so. The produce is subject to change depending upon their suppliers. But most of what I buy (and have bought for years) the prices have not changed much in years and I shop there once a week for groceries.

I'm glad they don't sell "meat." I've been a vegetarian for over 20 years.

Most of Rainbow's workers are quite pleasant, especially the cashiers. If you find the workers "surly PC assholes," based on your comments here I suggest it's because of what one projects onto them. They can only take so much from assholes. One often gets back what one projects. I approach them all respectfully and I've consistently receive respect from them and good customer service.

Do you happen to work for Mollie Stones and are doing a little promotion here to try to turn people off from going to worker-owned Rainbow? That's what they do on some other sites.

And based on your nasty, smug attitude, please stay at corporate Mollie Stones. Please don't come to Rainbow.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

Well it's really all about YOU and what YOU want then - isn't it? I don't eat sugar but you don't see me demanding it be removed from my local grocery store because the presence of it offends my delicate sensibilities. Restricting MY choice is not OK.

It's hilar to see a progressive become a regressive when challenged.

Don't forget your own bag!!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

Are you sure you've ever been to Rainbow?

From the beginning, Rainbow has never sold "meat," so it not a matter of "removing it from the shelves." The store has never sold "meat."

And it's all about you and what you want which is why you (if you're the same person I wrote to earlier) go to corporate Molly Stones to get your dead animal that you've been programmed to eat.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 10:22 pm

on Mission they sold meat at one time.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

FYI:

From Rainbow's website:

Occasionally a customer will wander through the store, looking for a meat counter. But the only meat we sell is in our pet food department. While some of us do actually eat meat when we're not in the store, vegetarianism has been a long tradition at Rainbow. Even though there are now more humane and healthier methods for raising livestock, we don't want to profit from the sale of animals and at this point, we don't even know where we'd put a meat counter. We hope you can appreciate the many non-meat products we offer.
Instead, we tend to think of animals as our friends, and consequently, our Grants Committee has given money to Farm Sanctuary and other organizations that promote livestock health and the humane treatment of animals.

Did you read that one sentence: "vegetarianism has been a long tradition at Rainbow."

I shopped in the store on Mission and never saw "meat" there.

Don't you ever research/Google anything before you post? Or you prefer posting wrong information?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

That was written by some mission hipster in the last few years.

When I moved here I met old hippies who lived in the Mission and laiughed that Rainbow didn't sell meat any more. Once upon a time being a hippie wasn't so narrow, the later generations always fuck things up by taking things to seriously.

I don't care one way or another if they sell meat, by the way.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 12:37 am

The staff look unwashed and seem to be miserable in that way that street kids always do. Why would I go there when Mollies and WholeFoods have better locations, better selections, better prices but most of all a much better attitude?

Oh, and meat and fish for the 99% of us who don't think that a bowl of leaves, nuts and seeds is a meal.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 7:46 am

Whenever I go to rainbow, I have this fantasy of shopping in a suit made entirely of meat. Can you imagine??

Posted by Greg on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

"why don't some of these emaciated vegans get something to eat?"

Posted by matlock on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

was the Goodwill thrift store on Market St. They employed only transexuals (which somehow wasn't deemed discriminatory). The staff refused to sort the used clothing into mens and womens because that comformed to "fixed gender roles".

Not surprisingly, it went out of business.

Only in San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

Can I imagine? Can I *IMAGINE?*

What? Can I imagine a TROLL acting like a TROLL?

Yes.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

I've shopped at Rainbow for years. About once a year I walk through one of the corporate chain store grocery stores just to look around and see what kind of shit they have, and what I mainly see is lots of plastic packaging. It's so wasteful, but the sheep who shop there don't care I guess...about anything other than themselves.

I'm like Steven....corporate grocery stores/corporate box stores give me the creeps. I only need to be in one a couple minutes and then I get this "get me out of here" feeling.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

The staff look like they don't wash and will give you a political lecture if you buy something that isn't politically correct.

I prefer to buy my food where I don't have kids with tattooes and piercings sneering at me.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 7:42 am

Isn't that the entire Progressive base in San Francisco?

Kids with tattooes and piercings sneering at anyone who disagree with them?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 8:28 am

I love the constant referring to those who dont agree with you as "sheep"
Just proves what kind of person can write off someone they dont even know based on one perceived aspect of their personality.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 6:19 am

A chain store advantage. They open on holidays and open after 7pm.

San Francisco as a big city shouldn't have a majority of stores that shut down like that.

The key word is "big city" 49 square miles...not some quaint little town where many of these faux-sophisticated general store shopping transplants come from.

Ban a chain store and slash a social program from the lack of tax revenue to fund it. Is that smart?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 8:40 am

Another thing I wonder is why the Occupy guys tore up Valencia St businesses on May Day? No American Apparel and other chains there.

Could it be those independent boutiques are too upscale for them to buy anything there?

Could it the customer service at those shops treated them unkindly at an earlier time?

Could it be that the shops didn't sell anything the protesters wanted?

Hmmmm.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 8:48 am

The A30 property destruction on Valencia had nothing to do with Occupy San Francisco. The perps were either paid provocateurs by the government or banks, or less likely Occupy Oakland "bay of rager" nihilist anarchoids.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 10:04 am

Can anyone count the number of vast right-wing conspiracies that are speculated upon here in the average day?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 10:33 am