San Francisco

With clothes on the racks, Flamingos Vintage Pound remains closed pending city permitting decision

Nearly a month after occupying the former Rasputin Music storefront at 1672 Haight Street, newcomer Flamingos Vintage Pound still remains shuttered, despite new signage on the building and a store full of inventory.

Though Flamingos initially proposed opening for business early in December, a message on the building says it will be shuttered indefinitely until Flamingos completes the city's conditional use permitting process, which could take months.

"Unfortunately," the statement reads, "when we signed the lease on this location, we were not informed that because of the number of stores we have we fall under Formula Retail Laws, even though we are still a family business."

Because Flamingos has more than the 11 stores worldwide legally allowed by local law (they have over 35), they fall under the city's "formula retail" ordinance that requires conditional use permitting for chain stores, or "retail stores with multiple locations and a recognizable 'look' or appearance."

Flamingos didn't apply for any permits to go into business (it didn't need a change-of-use permit for the Rasputin space, which was also designated for retail sales).

Now, though, "we are definitely going through all the procedures required by law," CEO Daniel Martinez confirmed with Hoodline via email.

Martinez also provided this statement: 

We feel so sorry that Flamingos Vintage will remain closed while we go through the CU process. We apologize for any troubles we could have unintentionally provoked, our intention has never been to cause any harm or unsettle the community. On the contrary, we would very much like to be a part of it soon ... We feel so sorry a space this big on Haight St. is not open for business, it does not benefit anyone in the area.
Flamingos sits on a block heavily affected by vacancies, some of which are now four years old. | Photo: Camden Avery/Hoodline

Reaction to the issue in the neighborhood, which has struggled with retail vacancies, has been mixed.

One local defaced the community letter with a marker, saying, "Maybe if you hadn't painted over a beautiful mural, the process would be smoother." (The mural in question was presumably Rasputin's former signage, which featured images of its namesake playing guitar, as well as sperm approaching a vinyl record.)

But Sharon Lacayo, co-owner of neighboring My Favorite, said that despite the protracted closure, "I like that there's even a tenant" as a deterrent to people camping on the block.

A conditional use permit, which will allow Flamingos to operate legally at 1672 Haight, could take months to wind its way through the city planning process, and will ultimately require the community's support to go into effect.

If it clears all city hurdles, Flamingos will join the ranks of the Haight's sprawling vintage clothing offerings: Static, Decades of Fashion, Wasteland, Relic, Held Over, Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads, Love Street, Trove, Indigo, and Goodwill.

1672 Haight Street

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