Wednesday evening, the Board of Appeals voted 3-2 to allow a Jack Spade store to continue building out their controversial new store on 16th Street in the Mission. Despite an aggressive campaign from the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association, the vote means the Board of Appeals decided Jack Spade did not fit San Francisco's definition of formula retail.
Under the Planning Commission's current ordinance, stores or chain operations are considered formula retail if they have 11 or more locations in the U.S. that all have the same merchandise, design or other similar qualities. (If you missed it, check out our formula retail explainer from June.) Currently, the noted manpurse maker will be just slim enough to fit into San Francisco: the Mission district Jack Spade store will be the company's 11th outpost in the states and their 14th worldwide. That, of course, doesn't include the 100-plus locations of sister/wife company Kate Spade or their parent company Liz Claiborne.
Under the slogan, "a spade is a spade," members of the VCMA argued yesterday that the smaller menswear brand certainly benefits from the association between the two brands.
As Mission Local reports, local consultant Phil Lesser and the company's Jack Spade New York "co-leader" Melissa Xides continued to claim that Jack Spade is a completely separate entity and that the company is committed to the neighborhood and (cringe) gentrification:
“We are a neighborhood retailer through and through, there is nothing formulaic about our stores,” said Xides. “We fell in love with the uniqueness of 16th Street We fell in love with the food scene and gentrification that’s happening there.”
Not all of the small business owners in the neighborhood are against having Jack Spade on their block. Mission Local also surveyed neighboring businesses and found them to be split on the matter. (A fine grain of salt though: most of the businesses surveyed were still on the fence.) Others, as Uptown Almanac points out are actually excited to see how a business with the resources of Jack Spade (and Kate, and Liz) can help clean up the corridor.
For their part, the Board's voted not to immediately repeal Jack Spade's building permits because the company simply didn't fit the current definition of formula retail. Several did, however, believe there should be a conditional use hearing to allow for more neighborhood input. The Valencia Merchants, meanwhile, can file another appeal in the next ten days although the momentum seems to be shifting away from them.
Finally, as an addendum: when a similar issue popped up with the Gant store in Hayes Valley, District 5 Supervisor London Breed attempted to introduce legislation that would have tweaked the formula retail ordinance to include worldwide outlets and not just U.S. locations. That legislation was put on hold earlier this month.