That handwritten sign in the window display of Frida Kahlo leggings, chunky Egyptian collar necklaces, and blingy ballcaps, sadly, is correct. After more than 16 years, popular Valencia Street costume boutique Multikulti has announced it will close at the end of the year. The melancholy news comes just as the Mission District copes with the closure of Modern Times bookstore, underscoring the difficulty that the neighborhood’s smaller and quirkier retailers have had in the current economic environment. While Multikulti’s announced closing date is December 31, items are already marked down to liquidation prices. We recommend fans of the shop go in soon, because the inventory is disappearing fast.
“The rent is getting more expensive now, because in the contract every year they increase it,” Multikulti owner Reda Darwish told SFist, lamenting that the new three-year option presented to him comes with significant annual rent increases. Darwish, an accomplished doumbek drummer who often performs with belly dancers, has also been unhappy with the quality of maintenance to the property that is suddenly becoming significantly more expensive to rent.
As I spoke with Darwish about Multikulti’s impending closure, a woman came in and bought a slew of accessories. “She was a customer here since she was a kid,” he mentioned just after she left.
While this is a terrible development for the wardrobes of Burning Man and Carnaval enthusiasts, Darwish does have hope that the shop may someday come back in another location. But for now, Valencia Street is losing its go-to for go-go accessories, feather boas, sunglasses, sequined peekaboo tops, statement socks, earrings, tutus, and eclectic costumery.
“I have to close this [shop] first,” Darwish said. “Then I’m thinking a time of rest. Then we’ll see what the possibility is.”
Despite the letdown of the store’s closure, Darwish remains grateful for the long run Multikulti has enjoyed. He attributed the shop’s success to “good customers, good community, the Mission. That’s what’s kept it going 16 years.”