African Outlet Seeks Community Help

African Outlet Seeks Community Help
Ryan Curran White
Published on January 21, 2014
It looks like the end of the African Outlet (524 Octavia) could be close unless a new lease agreement is reached.

According to owners Judah Dwyer and Horgan Edet, they're facing a $500-a-month rise in rent from their current lease, which is something they cannot afford. Horgan and Judah moved the shop to Hayes Valley in 1994, after starting on Divisidero in 1989. They had a loose agreement with the Hayes Valley building’s former owner -- a "handshake," as Judah explains it: "It's very agreeable and everything’s cool, and that went on until the end of last year," Judah told us. "I just think he’s very cool, and has done really well for himself on real estate." In 2013, Victor Makras Real Estate (1193 Church) took over property management for the building’s owner. Now Horgan and Judah must send their rent to the new property management company, and no longer to the building owner with whom they originally had the understanding. Last year, Victor Makras Real Estate sent a notice to Horgan and Judah about the rent hike, including details about annual rent increases in the future. Judah and Horgan aren't prepared for this kind of financial challenge. So, they're turning to the community for help. "The only way we know how to have power is to get the energy of the neighborhood, our customers, community organizations that they have done things for and also politicians," Judah said. They’ve been posting about their struggles on Facebook, like this post from December 18:
Update: as many of you have experienced - first hand for some, no doubt, the Monied Greed Viper has been consuming our homes, businesses and sense of place. Well, the ole monster has come knockin at the door of The African Outlet. The rent increase we cannot and will not absorb. After considering all possible responses to this situation, we are digging in our heels, turning around with confidence and spiritual ammo to face the challenge. So, ASAP, we are seeking a media savvy, 'west coast promo', internet-passionate, history lesson-hell no! we won't go kinda person(s) to blow up a separate face page, blog, twitter. We are gathering the heavies to talk the talk an walk the walk out here. Give us a call 415 864 3576 with your ideas and contributions, be they philosophical, folks to contact, or financial.
They say they've tried to get the attention of Supervisor London Breed, but haven't had much interest from her office.
African Outlet is asking supporters to come by the store to sign a petition by the door. They're also starting a Facebook Group and online petition. For more on the African Outlet and its history, check out our profile from last year. Once we learn any more details about the shop's fate, we’ll be sure to let you know. Correction: This article originally stated that Victor Makras bought the property. Rather, Victor Makras is now managing the property for the building's owner.