West Coast Leather heading out

Diesel store with "for lease" sign
400 Castro Street

We received a few tips from our readers that West Coast Leather (400 Castro Street) has been setting up store closing sale signs in their windows and outside their doors the past couple of days. I stopped in earlier today to find out what was up.

Having not been in the store yet, I did browse around a bit. I noticed that West Coast Leather sells more than leather and carries a full line of Rough brand clothing including linen shirts, denim jackets, shoes, denim and corduroy jeans, and accessories. The feeling of the place was like an expanded version of Outfit on 18th Street.

I spoke with West Coast Leather Owner and Fashion Director, Skip Pas who told us that their 6-month lease with the building owner was up and even though they extended it on a month-to-month basis for January and February, sales for the past couple of months have been lower than expected and not enough to cover the lease. He mentioned leather sales is seasonal and fickle and that foot traffic in the Castro has been low and expected it to be even worse with the Castro Streetscape Improvement Project set to break ground soon. Pas also mentioned leather is not something you just shop for like you would with other types of clothing like socks, pants, and shirts. He told me he sold 16 leather jackets to an artist in LA this morning and that many sales are like that; people ordering specific leather items.

Pas mentioned the building owner was in talks with another lessee, but could not mention who it was. “The space is great,” Pas said, noting the exposed brick walls and the stereo system. “A lot of people come in just to see what it would be like to run it as a club or a restaurant,” he said. Pas thinks the next tenant should be one of the two and noted that the building owner really just wants to sell the entire building.

The iconic building which is located at the seat of the Castro at Market Street was formerly a Diesel store and was rumored to be taken over by many interesting tenants since including Apple and as a burlesque nightclub called Randy Rooster.

Pas said we could expect the store to be closed by end of March, barring a new agreement with the building owner or increased sales. We’ll keep you in the loop if we hear anymore details on a new tenant. For now, consider stopping by the store as many items are being heavily discounted.

Roy McKenzie

Roy has been a Castro resident since 2010 and is passionate about politics, camping, and food. Follow his babbling on Twitter.

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18 Responses

  1. sjg says:

    Not a big surprise, I had heard that they were not doing well.. It’s an awful space for a retail store. No line of sight ( direct window access) for foot traffic and overall does not communicate it being a retail store. I still think that space would make a great cabaret space ( like Josie’s Juice Joint). Or Les Natali can buy the building and keep it closed for the next 20 years. He is after all, the master of how to deaden a retail district

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

  2. Matthew says:

    Oh boy! Another space for a coffe shop! YAY!

    (sarcasim here)

    All kidding aside, this space would be perfect for a gay meeting/activity space; Drag queens, neighborhood issues, party space, etc.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  3. Mitch Mansfield says:

    “Foot traffic in the Castro has been low.” That is the main reason why there are so many vacant storefronts. Just ask Under One roof, the Body shop, the Bead Store, and on and on and on.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  4. Aaron says:

    Of course, it will NEVER be a club, because the NIMBYs of Castro will never let that happen. So let’s just put that thought out of our minds.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  5. Topher says:

    @Matthew, I’ve often felt the same way. I’m sure the rent is prohibitive for non profits, but wouldn’t it be great if that space could house the GLBT History Museum or something else in the vain?!

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  6. KevinSF says:

    Wow. Who owns/manages that old B of A building? I don’t have much faith in their business acumen at all. Several years ago they chased Noah’s Bagels out of the small space on the side of the building by quadrupling their rent. That space has been vacant nearly every day since Noah’s left. Stupid, stupid, stupid it makes no sense at all. Noah’s was great for that space and the neighborhood. It was always busy and extremely clean. Unlike that other bagel place that consistently gets low scores from the SF Health Dept. all the time.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

    • sjg says:

      How was Noah’s chased out? They faced the same problem many merchants are facing: rent high, costs high, sales low

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

    • Patrick says:

      There is no such thing as getting tax break for leaving property. The owner of the building has no benefit for leaving space empty

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Pickles says:

    I can’t explain it perfectly but landlords enjoy tax benefits to keeping spaces empty, rather than adjusting the rent down to what the market will bear. That’s part of the justification of how Les Natali has spent the last eon keeping The Patio empty. The owners of the old Diesel/BofA/Noahs space probably get a slice of that tax-good-life too.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    • sjg says:

      Companies that lease retail space do not share tax write offs with property owners.

      Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Kevin_BGFH says:

      SF Gate has an article about deductions for vacant properties. In essence, it sounds like you can deduct the costs (property taxes, insurance, electricity, upkeep, etc.) from income earned from other properties. But a business owner would get those same deductions from this property, too, if it were earning revenue. It doesn’t sound like they get deductions for the value of what they could (but don’t) rent it for.

      http://homeguides.sfgate.com/property-taxes-apply-vacant-land-investments-52838.html

      I realize that lots of people think that Les is getting deductions for keeping The Patio closed. But so far, I haven’t been able to find anything about that. If anyone has any actual citations to share, not just speculations, I’d be very interested in learning more.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. Nate Wood says:

    That was the WORST idea from the start. Seriously, a leather store? Exactly what about the area screamed to pedestrians, “what you’re missing here, in this spot, is the opportunity to shop for the perfect leather jacket.” Absolutely NOTHING. Beyond the failed “line of sight” the previous poster mentioned, the space is ridiculously uninviting for retail. I am not a realtor, but it is clear that there MUST be some advantage to keeping particular spaces “empty.” Ridiculous that there has not been an ‘approved’ tenant for the space that previously occupied “Home”.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  9. rblack says:

    It was always meant to be temporary.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Mitch Mansfield says:

    I’ll say it again. Talking about empty storefronts is like talking about the weather.
    There really isn’t anything you can do about it, but it is fun to talk about.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  11. This is the PERFECT location for Supervisor Scott Wiener to prove his mantra about the city needing to build build build – and build HIGHER!! Pimp this corner out as a development project like the one proposed at 16th/Mission street around the BART station. GO HIGH – 10 floors!! Ground floor retail!! Include some BMR space but add homes where people want them and demand them

    IN YOUR DISTRICT.

    Want housing? There are two corners straddling Market Street at Castro that are RIPE for skyscrapers.

    Put them there. It’s what his constituents want.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  12. Patrick says:

    Thank you for finally putting some facts to the baseless inferences that landlords are getting tax breaks for leaving their property empty

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  1. April 1, 2014

    […] finally… while West Coast Leather (400 Castro Street), is on its way out of the iconic building located at Market and Castro, a new tenant is already lined up and ready to […]

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