Old-school hipsters vs. neo-Hipsters; community independent businesses vs. progressive chain store…it’s The Mission vs. American Apparel.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Feb 6, 2009
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What do progressive, successful American Apparel and oldschool Valencia Street have to do with one another? Nothing much, hopes the Mission community. Excerpt:


American Apparel finally answered Allan Hough over at Mission Mission, who asked for comment on the Valencia Street controversy. They respond in length — which you can read in its entiretyright here — but, ultimately, claim they meant no harm.

“Our first store was in Echo Park, a small artsy district of Los Angeles, which is a lot like the Mission. Since we opened the store in 2003, the neighborhood has flourished with new independent businesses. The City pays closer attention to the area, keeping it cleaner and safer than it ever was before without denting its original charm and flavor. Our store is a permanent fixture in the community now, just as much as Burrito King and the infamous tranny hairdressers are. Not every location is like Echo Park or Valencia St., but for the ones that are, we’re perfectionists about getting right.”Actually, Echo Park is still kind of janky. But we digress.

American Apparel also goes on to say that “at the end of the day if the community doesn’t want us there, we have no intention of forcing our way in.” And seeing as how most of the businesses on Valencia and some Mission residents do not want the retail chain there due to aesthetic reasons, it looks like American Apparel might have to look elsewhere to hawk their revealing goods.

Read more about it, right here.


With thanks for the tip to Stephanie Bernstein, this video report features journalists fascinated, dumbfounded that a community would want to protect itself during tough economic times. As if a strong economy, and a vibrant, affordable community had no relation to one another. Excerpt:

KRON 4 dares to bravely go where the blogs have already been. Incredulity is expressed that people might oppose the opening of an international chain store in their neighborhood, while the intro is punctuated with swift jabs at the camera with a Stop American Apparel postcard…the Planning Commission has received letters both for and against, Valencia Street business owners fear higher rents, etc. — with one of the highlights being a close-up of the petition left at Ritual Coffee liberally doused in coffee stains. (Did anyone notice if the spiller was wearing a hoodie with a white zipper?) Toward the end, reporter Kate Thompson declares ominously that “a lot of people in this neighborhood are planning to show up en masse” for the Planning Commission meeting on Feb. 5. While there’s sure to be a healthy turnout, I think the 1:30 p.m. meeting time on a Thursday will ensure that most of the masses are at work — or should be.




About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


2 Responses to “Old-school hipsters vs. neo-Hipsters; community independent businesses vs. progressive chain store…it’s The Mission vs. American Apparel.”

  1. […] article over at Elephant Journal about a controversy in San Franciso’s Mission district about a new American Apparel […]

  2. cRc says:

    Final chapter… The problem with this whole affair is the the review process involved by Prop G is neither an educational nor a democratic process. There is no forum for the Planning Department, the Planning Commissioners or the Supervisors to educate the community about Prop G and the review process, and especially no forum in which they can dispel false notions or claims such as those made by Stephen Elliot. There is also no forum or mechanism by which a positive vision of and a realistic plan for a socially and economically healthy mixture of businesses can be evolved with merchants, the community and political leaders participating. Supervisor Brendan Dufty of The Castro is attempting to bring people together to accomplish something more like this. Finally, the hearing on American Apparel was held in the afternoon on a weekday, when many working people (including my favorite Mission Mission commenter whose comments on Stop American Apparel were censored) could not attend. The hearing is NOT a democratic process, with a vote for everyone in the community. Instead, a small, well-organized, vocal opposition carried the day; the issue became so toxic (to use a current term) that none of the Supervisors would vote FOR American Apparel; the opposition to the opposition was, aside from concerted posting on blogs, totally NOT organized.
    There are further problems with Prop G: it does not protect smaller local businesses from bigger local businesses. Hayes Valley, with North Beach one of the two zones designated to have NO formula retail, was transformed with the Octavia Street upgrade to a high-rent zone. Several acquaintances with mine with small shops there were forced out by quadrupling rents, and replaced by shops like Timbuktu, Huf (my favorite shoe shop, actually) and La Boulange (which used to have the best Viennoisserie, but has definitely massed out to its market).
    There really needs to be a more wide-ranging, inclusive, balanced, socio-culturally AND economically realistic solution to neighborhood preservation than Prop G.

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