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Mission Thrift Closes For Good After 20 Years

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Once upon a time in a land that hasn’t moved but seems so very far away, Werner Werwie was a thrift shop king around here. For decades, he has supplied the city’s frugally fashionable with unique and eccentric duds at well-worn prices. At one point Werwie owned seven thrift stores, but when Mission Thrift soon closes up shop for good, he’ll be down to two – Held Over in the Haight and Mars Mercantile in Berkeley.

Mission Thrift, between 19th and 20th streets, is another victim in a long chain of neighborhood staple businesses forced to shut down because the neighborhoods are becoming unrecognizable and customers that once kept these small shops alive are more scarce with each passing day.

“What used to be my customer base is not in San Francisco anymore,” Werwie told Mission Local. “They’ve all moved to Oakland or Oklahoma.”

Mission Thrift in San Francisco, Calif. will close its doors for good. Photo courtesy of Good Things in Your State

But it’s not just that. As customers have dwindled, shoplifting and harassment has grown to nearly debilitating levels. According to Werwie, employees are hard to find and harder to retain, even with $18 starting wage and paid vacation and bonuses – luxurious perks in the retail world. Especially when they have to continually deal people off the street who the owner claims have been making trouble for his employees. He told Mission Local that just recently, the Mission Thrift manager was found crying on the floor in a breakdown, what Werwie described as a “response to troublemakers and shoplifters repeatedly coming into the store.”

The once-booming thrift shop king decided that enough is enough, at least at the Mission location. Mission Thrift will remain open Saturdays until the inventory has been sold off at slashed prices, but after that is done, so is the shop that has clothed locals for the past 20 years.

The former owner of seven thrift stores, including Clothes Contact on Valencia, will now run just two last holdouts on either side of the bridge: Held Over and Mars.

What is to become of the Mission Thrift location is a mystery, but let’s hope it won’t end up being just another overpriced and underwhelming hipster chain.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.