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Arthur Beren Footwear, Longtime Union Sq. Fixture, Closing

The Italian footwear, on sale for $520 a pair, will quickly be gone. As will the Zur Venetian loafers, the Thierry Rabotin slip-ons, and the Kickstart Women’s Bootie.

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After practically 30 years at 222 Stockton St.and more on Geary Road, Arthur Beren Footwear, considered one of Union Square’s final remaining independent native stores, is closing.

Store proprietor David Beren, who took the enterprise over from his father, Arthur, says rising rents and declining gross sales have squeezed the profit out of a business he loves, but which now not seems to have a place in a retail district dominated by luxurious chains like Chanel, Gucci and Dior.

“It’s a changing world we are in, and we have now to accept it — reluctantly,” Beren mentioned. “If that’s the best way it goes in Union Square, that’s the way in which it goes. We might be part of what’s gone.”

The transfer comes after a 5-yr run-up in rents and valuations that has turned Union Square into a luxury retail heart with the same manufacturers that dot world wealth centers like Hong Kong, London and New York City. Rents for prime house in Union Sq. have tripled to an average of $650 a square foot. Buyers are shelling out well over $1,000 a square foot to buy retail buildings.

However some worry that the influx of capital has come with a price: the vanishing local, impartial companies that for many years have distinguished Union Sq. from different city buying areas. One native Union Square mainstay, Shreve & Co.was priced out of the constructing that bears its title at 200 Submit St. and forced to search out a new dwelling. The fabric store Britex at 146 Geary St. is working to remain in its area after its landlord filed an software with the city to convert the upper floors of the constructing to office space.

Laura Tinetti, a retail broker with JLL, stated landlords’ rent expectations are such that solely a choose group of tenants can afford them. The result’s that some retail areas are staying vacant longer and tenants are slower to make commitments.

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“There continues to be demand for house, however we’re seeing it taken up by the jewelers of the world — the Cartiers, the Harry Winstons — that will pay the high-water rents,” stated Tinetti. “There are plenty of lively retailers who need a flagship in San Francisco, however they are hesitant to drag the set off where rents are.”

Beren’s constructing is owned by the City and Nation Membership, a women’s social organization. The group raised Beren’s rent three years ago by 50 p.c. David Beren said that he seemed round at different choices in Union Square and on Fillmore Avenue however hasn’t found something that works and is economically possible.

“I don’t blame the Town and Country Membership,” he said. “They have a building that’s worth a lot of money, and they can get the rent they’re asking for. We negotiated and so they even gave us somewhat little bit of a break three years in the past, but it surely was nonetheless a lot. The economics of it don’t work for us. When your bills go up and your income drops, it’s not a good combination.”

Along with lofty rents and the rising market share of online retailers, Union Square — particularly Stockton Road — has been below siege by the messy Central Subway building challenge that started during President Obama’s first term and is scheduled to continue nicely into the subsequent administration.

“We tolerated the development for so long and have gone by the worst of it,” mentioned Beren. “But it has been very disruptive.”








On Thursday, longtime clients like Joy Drinker of Saratoga and Jane Golden of San Leandro stopped by the store to say goodbye and stock up on shoes. For Golden, retired director of curriculum for the Pleasanton Unified School District, Arthur Beren is the last motive to make quarterly pilgrimages to downtown San Francisco.

“I can go get my clothes in Pleasanton. This was the rationale to come back over. It was the destination,” she mentioned. “This is really not good for San Francisco.”

Beren Footwear moved to its current location in 1988. Before that it was on Geary Avenue close to Union Sq.. Before that it was primarily based in Oakland and called Kushins. Arthur Beren started working there while a scholar at UC Berkeley. The senior Beren, now ninety years previous still stops in the store on Fridays after lunch at Le Central.

Golden said she went to Kushins together with her mom. “You’ll find a whole bunch and hundreds of ladies throughout the Bay Space who’re just going to be shocked and saddened by the store closing,” she stated.

More by J.Okay. Dineen

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Britex landlord needs retailer to stay in its longtime home

Salesman Morgan Von Rueden moved over to Beren 23 years in the past from I. Magnin. The 2 Union Sq. shops had been competitors — both specialized in Salvatore Ferragamo footwear. He dines with his Beren prospects, attends their children’s weddings and chats with them on the telephone on weekends or in the night.

“They are calling up, ‘What do you’ve gotten in my dimension I’ll have all of it.’” They are buying $four,000 or $5,000 or $6,000 proper off the highest because they know they are not going to purchase sneakers for a very long time.”

On Thursday, Drinker hugged him on her approach out the door with several pairs of latest sneakers. “I am so sorry you’re going out of all our lives,” she said. “Everyone has so counted on you for a wide range of styles and decisions. And all the time prime quality.”

J.Ok. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle employees author.

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