On Wednesday, Cole Hardware opened its sixth family-owned store in the Bay Area at 345 9th St. in SoMa.
In September—following the fire that destroyed Cole Hardware's Mission District store—owner Rick Karp signed a 15-year lease on the warehouse's first-floor. Banner Uniforms, the building's former ground-floor tenant, has moved upstairs.
The biggest hiccup that arose while moving in: making the space compliant with a multitude of city ordinances, including storefront visibility requirements set in the Planning Code. “A lot of expenses went way, way up, and there were some unexpected things [the city] threw at us," admits Karp.
The new SoMa Cole Hardware location will serve as the company’s distribution and commercial center, a portion of the business that was formerly housed in the Mission location and temporarily spread among different stores. “With our commercial sales department, we want to set up a situation where we can reach out to and serve all of the light industry around here,” Karp notes.
Cole Hardware was established in 1959 by the late Dave Karp and continues to be a family affair. Karp says his children—Adrianna Karp, vice president of retail, and David Karp, vice president of operations—have been instrumental in the business. “I’m intensely proud of my kids for taking the reigns of the business forward."
Long time employees Chris Jensen and Jose Sepulveda are at the helm of the SoMa store, serving as store manager and assistant manager respectively.
“What’s unique about this space is it’s a great retail space," Karp says. "It’s on the edge of the Mission but also the Western SoMa district, which is underserved. It gives us an opportunity to connect with new communities."
They will hold a neighborhood happy hour in the store every month, where they'll offer discounts and introduce product vendors. The next happy hour is January 25th.
But you can also expect to see Cole Hardware getting involved in existing community affairs. "We’re looking forward to having a booth at the Folsom Street Fair. It’s in our DNA to be a part of the community,” he notes.
Businesses and residents in the area have already begun taking notice of their new neighbor. "We weren't sure how much of an existing customer base we would have here," admits Adrianna Karp. However, "We found out that we do have people that already know us and are excited and hopefully they will spread the word."
Cole Hardware's SoMa store will be open 8am-8pm seven days a week.
While Karp believes this South of Market location multiple neighborhoods, including the Mission, he is looking to open another Mission District store within the next two or three years.
In the meantime, the up and coming North Beach location will debut on Valentine's Day. "My wife will probably just want flowers instead,” Karp jokes.
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