Question and answer section
Last week Mayor Breed visited Cole Hardware after holding a press conference with Supervisor Brown. They were excited to announce the passing of legislation designed to help our city’s small businesses by addressing permitting issues and providing financial assistance. Thank you, Mayor Breed and Supervisor Brown, for this important boost to our local small business community! If you follow the news and walk the streets of our neighborhood shopping districts, you are probably aware of the plight of small businesses, or, as I prefer to refer to them, locally-owned businesses.
It is a pain both in the rear and in the wallet to deal with the city’s permitting process and myriad regulations when trying to open a new store or café. I can personally attest to this. After our beloved Mission Street store burned down three years ago, we endeavored to find a new location. As it turned out, and as you probably know, we opened two stores: our 9th and Folsom SoMa location and our North Beach location at the corner of Vallejo Street and Columbus Avenue.
It’s not easy to open a ground-up hardware store (and I would never open two simultaneously again). There are myriad details I won’t bore you with. On top of those, however, are the many city regulations and permits required. While we didn’t have issues with time delays generated by city processes, we had monstrous financial overruns as a result of regulations we were unaware of. Chalk them up to naivete on our part, but I can imagine how a first-time single-store entrepreneur would feel when faced with the labyrinth of the permitting process.
Thus it’s welcome news to read about the legislation passed intended to streamline the process and relieve the burden on current and aspiring locally-owned businesses. Congratulations and thank you, Mayor Breed and Supervisor Brown! If you wish to know more details about the new legislation, you can read the press announcement here.
The legislation is well-meaning and wide in scope. It will help and encourage many new and existing businesses. But let’s be real, folks. You share in the responsibility for keeping our local shopping districts viable. Certainly there are city permitting issues, high commercial rents, and more contributing to the vast number of vacant storefronts in the city. Your Amazon addiction, however, is the largest factor in creating those empty stores. Nobody expects you to radically change your shopping habits, but if you could shift just 10% of your weekly purchases to your favorite locally-owned business there would be a tsunami of new money pumped into our community, new permanent jobs created, and fewer vacant storefronts.
Mayor Breed needs you to partner with her on keeping our neighborhoods vibrant, and so does the locally-owned business community! If you enjoy your neighborhood shopping district, think before you click, and do your part to support our locally-owned businesses.
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