Happy Birthday, Cliff’s: ‘Best Small Business' Celebrates 80 Years This Weekend

“We don’t limit celebrating small businesses to just one week a year,” Terry Asten Bennett, general manager of Cliff’s Varietytold us during Small Business Week in May.

A few months after it earned a 2016 Small Business of the Year recognition from the state of California, Cliff's is throwing another celebration—this time, in honor of its 80th anniversary. 

From Friday through Sunday, the store will host a fundraiser sale. In exchange for a $5 or greater donation to LYRIC, a Castro-based LGBTQ youth center, customers will get a 20 percent discount on most items (with a few exceptions, like ladders, power tools and appliances).

“Supporting our community is a big part of who and what we are all about,” Asten Bennett said. “We especially like to support the youths of our community. They are our future and we want to see them have the best opportunities available.”

Cliff's, currently minus its awning, is preparing to celebrate its 80th birthday. | Photo: Shane Downing/Hoodline

Jodi Schwartz, LYRIC’s executive director, congratulated Cliff’s and thanked the variety store for giving back.

“Cliff's Variety has been keeping LYRIC in glitter, feathers and balloons for 28 years,” said Schwartz. “And at a discount!”

As we reported in May, each year, the California Small Business Association asks state legislators to nominate one small business from their district for the Small Business of the Year award. While Cliff’s was already honored in Sacramento in May, Assemblyman David Chiu will drop by the store at 1:30pm Friday to present a proclamation in honor of its District 17 award.

Terry Asten Bennett, third from left, along with members of her family, accepted the award from David Chiu, center, in May. | Photo: courtesy of Cliff's VarietY

“It is such an honor to celebrate Cliff’s,” said Chiu. “Cliff’s Variety has an amazing legacy of LGBT inclusion during the demographic changes of the 1970’s, and they have championed equality ever since.”

80 years is a long tenure—so long, in fact, that no one really remembers when the store was actually founded. According to Asten Bennett, who's the great-great-granddaughter of store founder Hilario DeBaca, the family is certain that Cliff's opened in 1936, but not of the exact date.

When Cliff’s celebrated 75 years in business, the store chose June 6th, the birthday of Asten Bennett’s grandfather Ernie, as its birthday. Asten Bennett admitted that she would've liked to have hosted something in June, but she wasn’t able to pull anything together. Then, the store was plagued by a persnickety awning problem.

Now, with the second weekend of August before us, Cliff’s is ready to celebrate: birthdays, awards and small businesses.

“But really, we’ll celebrate all year,” Asten Bennett said.

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