Having grown up in San Francisco’s Noe Valley district, I am used to a vibrant neighborhood filled with restaurants, shops and exciting events. Today, walking the streets of Noe Valley, a sad sight awaits. Dozens of stores and other businesses have closed their doors. Many factors have contributed to this situation, the general decline in our economy and the high cost of rent being the major culprits.
This decline began many years ago with the closing of Real Food Company, our local health food store. This closing left behind an empty storefront for years, with notices of a potential reopening that come and go with the seasons. Several years later, Bell Market closed, leaving us with no place within walking distance to buy groceries. Recently, a Whole Foods opened in its place. Although it offers healthy foods, these tend to come at a very high price.
In the meantime, two of our local video stores have closed, high-priced clothing boutiques have opened and closed, and restaurants both great and mediocre have come and gone. Many of these places I loved, and cannot imagine why they closed; others I never even had a chance to visit.
The problem here is not the transiency of business, but the permanent empty storefronts that too many of these closings leave behind. What is the solution to this problem? Despite the high rents, businesses should try to focus on selling high-quality, reasonably-priced items. As for Noe Valley residents, try a restaurant you’ve never been to, or look into a store you might not normally enter. If you like what you see, spread the word. And for the time being, enjoy the restaurants and shops you love, because tomorrow they could be gone.