At the end of 2011, the Castro welcomed a tiny piece of Brooklyn to the neighborhood in the form of a boutique furniture store specializing in modern home furnishings. Five years later, A&G Merch is closing its Market Street location and heading south.
“I’m going down to LA,” said Scott Denardo, the store’s manager. Denardo was previously an employee at the New York store and moved out in 2011 to open an A&G Merch branch in San Francisco.
Unlike other stories that we’ve reported in the past couple of months, A&G Merch’s closing does not seem to be the result of a rent hike. “It’s kind of working out at the same time as our lease ending,” said Denardo, who mentioned that part of his decision to move the store was so that he’ll be closer to family in southern California. “I’m ready to go down and be closer to them.”
However, according to Denardo, things have been challenging for him to run the San Francisco store. “Each year, everything goes up: utilities, water, overhead. It’s kind of breaking even, flat-lining. It’s getting to the point to try a new spot.”
The corner of 16th and Market is often the site of homeless activity.
“The homeless kind of got out of control,” Denardo added. “It cleared up the last month, so it’s better, but I just don’t want to deal with that anymore.” The store’s loading dock is located on 16th Street, across from Pond Street, where homeless individuals often congregate.
“They use our garage to pee on,” said Denardo. “I have to wash it down all the time. It’s not bad. I understand people don’t have anywhere to go, but for me personally, I don’t want to deal with it.”
A&G Merch, which recently re-did its website, does most of its business online. According to Denardo, many of the store’s customers already live in Los Angeles, although he has yet to secure a location for the store’s opening. A&G Merch still has its original store in Brooklyn.
Currently, everything in the store is 30 percent off list price in the Castro, with few exceptions. “As of now, we don't plan on marking things down any more since whatever is left we'll just pack and bring with us,” said Denardo.“I’m ready for warm weather. I need to move on and explore a new city. I’m sure something cool will go in, because it’s a beautiful space.”
We can expect to see A&G Merch shuttered as early as mid-July. We'll keep our eyes and ears open for 2279 Market St.'s forthcoming business.