Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What Happened to the Gift Center?


Today I thought I'd take a drive to the San Francisco Gift Center & Jewelry Mart. Since 1912, the Gift Center has been San Francisco's wholesale gift & jewelry destination, with floors of showrooms to peruse. It has been the cornerstone of the San Francisco Design District. They used to have a lovely center court where tuxedoed waiters would serve you. A nice Caesar salad, some sourdough bread, and a glass of iced tea -- then off to the showrooms -- a great way to spend an afternoon!

Well, today the place was like a ghost town. I went up to the 5th floor that used to have some of the finest showrooms with top candle lines, books and accessories. Gone. Only about 3 of them are left. Thank heavens Mary Hada still is. The other floors were mostly empty showrooms with renovation signs, and only a couple of showrooms filled. Showrooms were actually being emptied out while I was there. And I thought the recession was winding down. You know things are bad when I can find free parking in front of the Gift Center.

I asked a woman passing by what was happening. She answered, "they're trying to run us out." I didn't know what that meant, so I came home and starting Googling about the Gift Center. Apparently it was purchased by a private equity firm for 94 million, and they are trying to reposition the property with 275,000 square feet of new office space and ground-floor retail.

Where does that leave the showrooms? Where did they go? Where do retail shop owners go to, say, smell a line of new candles or perfumes? Seeing the Gift Center today really saddened me. Times are a changin' for sure.

photo credit from here

5 comments:

DolceDreams said...

Terribly sad...I used to go there all the time when I lived in Marin years back.It will be missed.
Nathalie

THE PICKLED HUTCH said...

BTW, when was it purchased?
Alfie says to say hey to Vito. He slept like a baby that night!
Lisa & Alfie

Jacqueline said...

I absolutely hate change, but it happens everywhere...here, in the U.K. the same thing is happening all the time...I guess we have to accept it, as there is nothing that we can do. XXXX

Redness said...

.... the ever curious me followed your Google lead ... up popped 888brannan.com did you see that ... t'would have you believe that everything is unky dory?

Paris Hotel Boutique said...

Yes! I have the link to 888 Brannan. Does look great doesn't it? Unbelievable...Well, the Jewelry Mart part is still there.