By early June, the Castro is set to get a new retail establishment unlike anything else in the neighborhood, from the minds of two gay entrepreneurs who are also both Bay Area natives. SF Symphony staffer Nate Bourg is teaming up with former Truck bar owner Paul Miller to create The Academy, which is being built out in the former Klotz Watches & Clocks space at 2166 Market Street, next door to Aatxe and Cafe du Nord (more recently home to a State Farm office).

The main space is going to be divided between a retail store featuring housewares, music, design items, and men's lifestyle goods, and a barbershop featuring men's grooming products. And whether you come for a haircut and hot towel treatment, or come to check out the merchandise, you'll be offered a complementary beverage by the staff and asked to sit a spell.

"This is where we see retail going," says Miller. "More of an experiential thing. Like, you come to experience the products, and the glass that your drink is served in is part of what's for sale. And so are the records to you can listen to and the record player."

Miller says he wants the place to be a new type of destination for people in the neighborhood, and he wants the gay history of San Francisco to be a component of the place as well, with occasional events in the space devoted to historical topics — as well as other types of events like a bowtie-tying class, an author reading, or a Japanese whiskey tasting.

The name, The Academy, is a nod to the space's history as well — before becoming a clock shop, it was home to home to a restaurant called Cardi’s, a gay leather bar called The Balcony, and from 1983 to 1988, The Academy, which was a men's sex club.

Miller sees The Academy (2.0) being something akin to Wingtip or The Battery downtown, only geared more toward the gay community and less focused on networking for its own sake. Like The Battery, there will be regular events and a membership aspect that will be invitation-only, but Miller says they don't want it to be cost-prohibitive, especially for younger members. "I want this to be a place where you can come and learn about this neighborhood and about the history of LGBT people in this city, if you're 22 and have no idea where to learn this stuff." Additionally, since the Perramont Hotel next door has for the last ten years been the home of Larkin Street Youth Services' Castro Youth Housing Initiative, and Miller wants to be able to support that in some way as well.

And, like Wingtip, you can get a trim and a shave while there, and a new tie, and maybe make a new friend.

Bourg compares the space to "someone’s beautiful living room" where someone will always be there to greet you and chat with you, and he told Hoodline last month that he hopes the public and member events will have a vibe of "a collective of individuals that gather for a common purpose."

The space is still under construction and Miller hopes to be able to announce opening events in the first week of June, but definitely before Pride Weekend, which comes at the end of June.

For now, the plan is for the retail space to be open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with limited special events during evening and weekend hours.