As we initially reported back in January, an herb shop is headed to the neighborhood, and fans of herbal remedies (of the non-marijuana variety) should note that the shop is now open for business.
However, in the time since we reported about this business, initially a Happy Herb Shop location, it has undergone a name change. The shop will now be known as Cindy’s Herb Shop.
The Happy Herb Shop franchise has over 40 locations in Australia and one US location in Ukiah, and the Castro herb shop's opening initially prompted concerns over the neighborhood's Formula Retail restrictions. However, after the shop got a site visit from the Planning Department and owner Cynthia ("Cindy") Nelson filled out the proper paperwork, city planner Moses Corrette tells us it was determined there was no evidence the proposed store will be Formula Retail.
It’s important to note that Formula Retail is not just limited to the number of locations that a business has but certain key features. According to San Francisco Planning code, "in addition to the eleven or more retail sales establishments located in the world, [formula retail] maintains two or more of the following features: a standardized array of merchandise, a standardized façade, a standardized décor and color scheme, a uniform apparel, standardized signage, a trademark or a servicemark."
The 18th Street shop prior to opening. (Steven Bracco/Hoodline)
Of the eight features listed, the only category that applied to the herb shop was signage, but before the first inspection took place, the Happy Herb Shop sign on the awning was removed. Now, the only elements remaining that would identify the shop's affiliation with Happy Herb Shop are a few signs inside the store that categorize the herbs.
When we spoke with owner Cindy Nelson, who also owns and operates the store's Ukiah location, she emphasized that Cindy’s Herb Shop is an independent business. While she is selling a few items from the Happy Herb Company, she has put together an array of other merchandise that you can’t find at any of those stores.
Cindy Nelson at her now-closed original Santa Cruz shop. (Happy Herb Shop/Facebook)
The herb shop is organized into four different herbal categories: smoking, energy, health and romance. The herbs she offers promise to assist in smoking cessation, boost your energy, improve your health and increase your libido. When you first walk in to the store expect to be greeted with a warm welcome from Nelson, along with a tea sample. According to Nelson, "You’re my guest, not just a customer."
Nelson is interested in giving people an alternative to the pharmaceutical drugs out there. While she acknowledges claims about the effectiveness of herbal medicines are unfounded, she wants to point out that "no one has ever died of an overdose of herbs."
Along with herbal medicines, Nelson also wants to use her store a place for local artist to sell their handmade goods like handbags, hats and art, and hopes to expand her inventory beyond herbal remedies soon.
Hours for the new spot, located at 4079 18th St., are noon to 8pm. Experienced herbalists, take note: Nelson is still looking to hire some employees to help her out in the store, so if you’re looking for a job, stop in to learn more.