Piper’s Shoe Parlor adds to the ever changing Haight
The Upper Haight is a galleria of shops, bars, restaurants and cafes competing in a constantly changing market. A new endeavor—by way of shoes—steps its way up establishing prominence in the neighborhood.
Piper’s Shoe Parlor at 1682 Haight St., dreamt up by brother and sister Justin and Jessica Dega, opened in Aug. 2011. Their shop is a thought-out showcasing of unique footwear revitalizing the soul of the Haight Ashbury shopping experience, according to nearby businesses.
“I think we need more stores like them on the street,” says Lisa Beach, buyer at Aqua Surf Shop. “It’s a refreshing store to have… It’s a good presence.”
Beach explains that the shop adds diversity to the street. Although there are many stores focused on shoes, she says that Piper’s is a “good move for Haight,” because it is a step towards retail growth in the neighborhood.
Justin says that their product is what makes them stand out from similar stores.
“I think we dig a little deeper than some stores,” says Justin. He explains that they look for “unestablished brands,” because they are “willing to grow” as Piper’s itself grows.
Jessica agrees by saying that what makes the store work is the fact that they build a partnership with the companies that they work with.
“It’s actually really nice to work with other companies that are small,” says Jessica. “They understand where you are coming from and they want you to succeed.”
The store has received a warm welcoming thus far and they are glad to be a part of the Haight Ashbury, especially since their location happened by chance.
“It fell into our lap,” says Jessica. She says that they were in the “right place at the right time,” and that they are “happy to be in this location.”
“As of now this is where I want to be,” adds Justin. “It’s an established retail area.”
Maurice Lee, manager of Wasteland agrees that there is no better place for Piper’s than Haight Street.
“I like when shops open up, rounding out Haight Street,” says Lee. “It’s not another ‘head-shop’ so that is awesome!”
Piper’s is still within its first year and Justin and Jessica are in the process of learning their business with hopes for great growth.
“I think a lot is changing on Haight Street right now,” says Jessica. “The fact that this is a new endeavor for both of us and since it’s ours, we want it to work.”
She says that within the next five years they plan to expand to different locations, maybe even different cities and states.
“Really we are just trying to keep and learn where we stand,” says Justin. He explains how eventually they will have a responsibility in contributing to making the street “thrive” by participating in merchants associations, fund raisers and events.
As for now they are putting their passions and experience to the test. The store sells everything from hats, bags, coats and jewelry, but of course their main focus is on the shoes.
“We definitely like to put a lot of effort into finding things that are cool and have good design that maybe people don’t know about,” says Jessica.
“We can finally put everything into it,” says Justin. “We are definitely passionate about shoes… what drives us is our love to find something new.”
Address: 1682 Haight Street
Business Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11 a.m to 8 p.m.
Home is where people live, and what makes a place feel like home is food, drink, warmth and most importantly, good company. Magnolia Pub and Brewery on Haight and Masonic has become this place for the locals of the area. The bar seems to never have a dull moment, constantly packed with customers. As I learned the warm smiles and endless conversations are easily welcoming to newcomers.
“I consider this place to be an extended living room for a lot of people in the neighborhood,” says Scott Mason, bartender at the pub. “People come here for the beer… for the food… for the ambiance.”
Mason continues stating that the Haight is a “supportive community,” and having such a “dynamic menu” from house-made sausage to cask ales, Magnolia caters to the culture.
Justin Williams, a familiar face to the Magnolia crowd, stops by the bar to treat himself to a celebratory birthday drink. He has just turned 25 and right away he greets the bartenders, exchanging handshakes and making small talk. He makes the rounds and orders his drink before taking a seat next to me.
“I live a walk up the hill…” Williams smiles pointing out the window and taking a brief pause holding his breath, “which is convenient and also terrible!” he bursts laughing.
He explains that he frequents the bar because he enjoys the micro brewed beer and of course, the good friends.
“It’s like the Cheers of Haight,” says Williams, referring to the old television comedy show. “It’s cool because it builds more of a sense of a community.”
It is definitely a bar with more of that homey feel to it, and not only do the locals love it, but visitors and shoppers do too.
Emily Kidd, and Matt Simanton stopped by the pub after spending some time in the Haight shopping.
“We are here because we like beer!” says Kidd jokingly as she explains that they decided to drop in and grab a drink because it reminded them of a place that they would go to back home in Chicago.
“I like this community table,” she says, referring to the bar-like table where we are seated.
I hadn’t noticed before, but now that Kidd pointed it out, I realized that the table really is like an extension of the bar. It has the same feel to it, as sitting at the bar. However there are seats all around the table, on either side.
I look around. It grows late, and the pub is now brightly lit. The golden hue illuminates the faces and you can hear the soothing sound, a sea of voices; their conversation calm, like rippling water and their vibrant laughter crashes like waves. This is a place where people come to feel at home, like one body, a family.
So let us raise our glasses, make a toast, to new friends and new memories, our home is yours! Cheers!
Once again struck by the musical artistry that is the Haight Ashbury, I walk the streets on assignment and am blown away by the soothing sounds of polyphonic harmonies accompanied by colorful melodies high and low! I stop, stare and watch in awe, and I am not the only one!
This group, Jugtown Pirates, stand on a porch with their instruments in hand fingering away at the stringed fretboards, strumming and plucking chords and phrases in folkish riffs. Crowds emerge throughout the performance and in between songs come new faces, and some old, returned.
“We were listening to them earlier,” says Roseanna Kauffmann, a Haight Street shopper. “And when we walked back, we crossed the street to hear them.”
Kauffmann and her friend Elise Filka were visiting from Oakland. Filka says that they were “just walking around,” because “it is a fun area.”
“We like to thrift!” Filka says laughing.
Like many other shoppers on Haight, the pair is moved by the sounds of the band on the porch that play effortlessly, like they are amongst friends, having a beer.
In fact… THAT is exactly what they are doing! Downing Pabst Blue Ribbon and playing bluegrass/folk to appreciative people!
One passerby, whom I am unable to track down, walked by applauding and yelling out, “Bluegrass and freakin’ PBR! That’s where it’s at!”
To sum it up, the clear-sunny sky needn’t worry about the bitter bite in today’s wind, because Jugtown Pirates kept Haight Street shoppers on their feet!
“They are fun! Folkish!” says Filka. “I felt like dancing.”
Sitting behind a counter on a stool tilted back, leaning against the wall behind him, Paul Shinichi waits. The day is unpredictably rainy, off and on, on and off, just like his customers. He grows anxious—he wants to stick a needle through someone.
“There are too many shops, period!” Shinichi says, serious in tone with his eyes piercing. “There is no realization of the veterans that have been here… that’s the American way, trying to undercut each other.”
As senior piercer at Braindrops Tattoo & Piercing at 1324 Haight St., Shinichi argues that it is time for a change in the industry and raising the standards is the way to go.
“If they want to break skin with their art, then this is how it’s going to be.”
In a time of economic struggle coinciding with the popularization of the body art industry in the media, Shinichi is one of many who seeks respect for his profession by supporting The Safe Body Art Act to create a “fair playing field,” he says. The act which went into preliminary stages on Jan. 1, enforces stringent regulations on the body art industry to ensure that all practitioners follow the same precautionary procedures.
Justin Malan, executive director of the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health, helped propel the act and is taking measures to institute proper training throughout the industry.
“The purpose of the bill is to establish a standard of procedures that are consistent and protect the public and the industry,” Malan says. He explains, that it “will significantly reduce blood-borne pathogens,” and “it legitimizes the practice.”
In addition to a two-hour training on blood-borne pathogens, body art practitioners are required to follow a repeatable routine in their decontamination methods and provide “a written log of each sterilization cycle,” complying strictly to the procedures outlined in section 119315 of the Health and Safety Code; logs must be kept in the facility “for two years after the date of the results.”
Furthermore, according to the guidelines of the code, there are restrictions mandating when it is necessary to change gloves and how to properly dispose of biohazards and sharp-single-use objects. The rules in place affect the facilities financially due to costs of equipment, according to the practitioners.
Paul Stoll, owner of Body Manipulations, helped write the Safe Body Art Act over the past four years. Stoll says that the act creates a “level playing field,” because every practitioner has to make the same expense in complying to the regulations, so price competition amongst shops will decrease.
“Everybody has to follow the procedures, not only in their facility, but in their methods,” Stoll says. “The reason you charge $30 [for a piercing] is because you have expenses.”
Many tattoo artists and piercers are on board for the change, but some are a bit skeptical.
“It is mainly to give the industry integrity,” says piercer Kevin Green who works at Mom’s Body Shop Tattoo and Piercing. “But the health department needs to be on the same page; they have to have integrity as well.”
In response, Cathy Montie, blood-borne pathogens trainer for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, acknowledges the skepticism and realizes it is due to the “expenses and fees,” artists pay.
“They are really good at taking our money but don’t provide the service,” she says laughing, referring to restrictions in place by county ordinances. However, Montie believes in the purpose and supports the act by serving as a trainer to the practitioners.
“It will get rid of all the ‘scratchers’ out there and make the reputable shops more reputable,” Montie says.
Like Green, tattooer Bobby Paulmenn, also from Mom’s Body Shop, is a little doubtful about the law coming into play.
“I don’t mind laws as long as there is reason for them,” Paulmenn argues. “They are not going to tell anyone in this shop something that they don’t already know.” Paulmenn argues that “the industry has already kinda regulated itself.”
Stoll agrees that the industry has been “self regulated,” but this law is “for the protection of the practitioner.”
“It’s the beginning of being a real profession!” exclaims Stoll. “It’s a huge step forward if the state recognizes us as actual practitioners!”
Other shops in the Upper Haight are also on board. Becky Dill of Cold Steel America Piercing and Tattoo is proud to be a part of The Association of Professional Piercers and a founder of The Bay Area Piercing Group.
Marie McCarthy, owner and manager of Soul Patch Tattoo and Piercing says it will “help bring back the health department with the tattoo industry,” and they can work together to create an “opportunity” for “shops to do things correctly.”
Since the opening of the first tattoo shop in the Upper Haight, Haight Ashbury Tattoo & Piercing, back in 1993, the Haight has been a popular place to go for this “alternative look.”
“There are five shops in four blocks,” says shop manager Justin Lawrence. “It’s a destination that people come to, to get tattooed.”
“I come often for the street wear and clothing, or to get pierced or tattooed,” says Adriana Crespin, a San Francisco resident.
“If I do come down here it would be for a specific reason,” says Autumn Valjien, “like to get tattooed.”
Paul Shinichi remains hopeful for the law, which will go into full affect July 1.
“It’s going to be a slow change over,” he says. “I’ve been here [at Braindrops] for 12 years, since the beginning… and I’m stoked. I’m not going anywhere.”
Wednesday Feb. 8 turned out to be quite the adventure. After waking up at 3 a.m., I switched on autopilot and biked to work as usual. One doppio macchiato later, my senses heightened as the buzz in my head signaled overly hyped movements and gestures in jittery nervousness. Caffeinated: Check!
The temporary fix wore off of course. After I worked a full day I wanted nothing more than to sleep, but I then sluggishly biked to school. By the end of class I felt like a zombie. Blaah… Despite my long start, the day had just begun; at about 6 in the early evening I set out to the Haight!
Quickly I was hit by a second wind. It was as if I was reborn in the midst of what seemed to be a revitalization of a long-established bohemian world. The night, full of life, captivated my curiosity and luckily led me to meet a couple of street performers in front of Amoeba Music.
Nate Miarecki and his companion whom chose to go by the alias “Rattlesnake Eyes,” were the first of many musical encounters for the night. According to Nate, they were “just hanging out,” and “trying to have a good time.”
The pair played some music for awhile, teaching each other songs before heading out to the Mission for the night. And then they packed up and left.
I spent the next few hours strolling the streets to see what else I can find to do, who else I can stop and talk to. In the end I came back to the area where I started and found that there was a show going on at the Milk Bar. The venue would become host to a gallery of catchy-garage-band noise.
Vocalist and guitarist of the unnamed opening act, Theo Slavin, was excited to have the opportunity to play their first show at Milk Bar.
“I just want to play,” says Slavin. “You never get to do it a lot.”
Drummer Taylor Meclroy adds that Milk Bar is a “cool spot,” and that “it’s a dope bar.”
The night continued and I mingled with the crowd. To my surprise, I was feeling more comfortable talking to people. I no longer felt like the lost child in the first week on assignment.
Two bands played before it was time for the headlining act. The Machetes were a throwback rock and roll band with a little punk edge. The crowd responded well, accepting the music, letting it absorb into their bodies as the beats pulsed with every dance movement.
At the end of the night, I left the show feeling amped. Being a musician myself, not only did the music resonate through me, but the words of Theo Slavin echoed in my head.
“I just want to play.”
Three times… THREE TIMES, I visited the Haight this week. Each time prepared. I confidently readied myself with my camera strapped on my shoulder and my notepad and pen in hand. I had a plan of action! I hit the streets with an eager heart and keen sight in search of the next big story! There I was… UNSTOPPABLE.
To be honest with you… It was terrifying.
I wandered like a lost child in search for his parents. My head drifted side to side. My eyes were shifty. I tried not to make eye contact for too long as I was constantly approached by panhandlers, weed dealers and petitioners! OH MY!!!
I was not prepared. I fearfully gripped my camera and the sweat profusely streaming from my hand made my notepad soggy and my pen slippery! I’d forgotten my plan! I ran the streets with my heart racing so fast it beat in my throat and my eyes peeled so wide my vision blurred from the tears in my frantic search for an exit! And there I was… hopeless…
Ok ok…. That is a little dramatic. But really, I quickly learned how much courage and confidence it took to approach people and start conversation. Shut down after shut down, I became synonymous to the panhandlers, weed dealers and petitioners in the eyes of the passersby.
I had to get through to the people somehow! So I decided to take a look at some of the neighborhood businesses.
My first stop happened to be a coffee shop, of course. The Grind Cafe on Scott and Haight is where I met barista Nehu Evans, 25, whom in conversation mentioned a few issues in the neighborhood.
“The panhandlers are pretty aggressive,” he said. “Especially towards tourists.”
I continued the conversation failing to mention my nervous encounters from earlier…
It was fairly busy, so he couldn’t talk too long. However, he provided some insight on the communal feel of the neighborhood that I soon discovered.
Not too far down I headed over to Edo Salon & Gallery at 601 Haight St. There I struck up a conversation with Jai Carrillo and Salon Manager Tiffany Ward.
“All of the businesses share interests,” said Carrillo. “Everyone kinda knows each other… especially in Lower Haight .” Ward added that the community hosts an art walk every once and awhile, bringing Haight residents and businesses together.
“We (Edo) continue the art walk every couple of months,” she says, referring to an art exhibit entitled NO FACE, that the salon will be hosting on Feb. 10.
Despite the rugged exterior, with street posts, walls and newsstands marked as artists’ canvases, the Haight that initially struck me as frightening began to feel a little more like home, especially after my encounter with “Lower Haighter” Zoe Jardine.
“I moved here not knowing it was a cool, hotspot neighborhood, ” she says kiddingly. She says seeing all of the familiar faces so frequently is “like going to school…I feel safe living in Lower Haight.”