20 Year Old Valencia Vintage Shop Retro Fit is Closing
The funky, artsy, weirdo Mission died a little bit more today. I received confirmation that Retro Fit, the vintage store/drag queen depot that’s been on Valencia near 20th St. for 20 years, officially got a 30 day notice. Back in February Pete Kane did a big feature on the possible demise of the shop, but it ended as a question. Unfortunately, we now have the answer. This is sad news for the community.
Steven LeMay has owned and operated Retro Fit for the past 12 years and he’s been as much of a staple on Valencia Street as any shop owner I can think of. I’ve bought numerous wigs, coats, shirts, and weird costume stuff from Retro Fit over the years, but more than anything I just loved popping in to bask in Steven’s glorious sarcasm and sass.
The 30 day notice is really not much a surprise. Before this the landlord had tripled the rent to $10,000 a month. Cool and funky vintage stores no longer jive with the New Mission District. What was once a street full of cafes, auto body shops, bohemian boutiques, thrift stores, and bars, has become a stretch of stores that seem to carry only seven items and restaurants with absurd prices. Commercial landlords are killing the soul of not just The Mission but the entire city. Community and culture are ineffable things and can’t be measured in dollar signs, but in this newest Gold Rush – where its an orgy of greed by an means necessary – landlords would rather charge insane amounts of rent for businesses guaranteed to fail, than continue to support good tenants who’ve been around for decades.
This is a time of jackals and hyenas, and if you can’t feed them the ever increasing amount of coin, they’re going to take your flesh. Or at least, the City’s soul.
It’s a shame that Retro Fit and Steven will no longer be on Valencia. Whatever goes in there next won’t have 1/10th of the spark that made this place special. I guess you can say the same for most of San Francisco.