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17 new pop-up shops to open in empty downtown San Francisco storefronts

Downtown San Francisco has a number of empty and shuttered storefronts, as pictured on May 13. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

With a little help from city offices and sponsors, visitors to Downtown San Francisco next month will find out what’s literally in store for them as the city launches new pop-up shops through its Vacant to Vibrant initiative.

The city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development teamed up with the nonprofit business advocacy group SF New Deal to announce the first of three groups of artists, makers, small businesses and organizations that will get three-month slots at Financial District storefronts as part of the initiative to revitalize Downtown San Francisco.

More than 850 applicants answered the call for participants. And the next two groups will be announced next year and have their own turns in the storefronts.

Here are the 17 new pop-up shops coming to Downtown in September:

The Swig Company, 200 Montgomery St., Suite 100

  • Bee Betwee (artist)
  • Creativity Explored (art nonprofit)
  • KALW-FM 91.7 FM (radio station)

The Gateway, 201 Jackson St.

  • Brujas (skate collective / streetwear apparel brand)
  • Gross Creative Studio Agency (multimedia art agency)

Pembroke at 100 California St., Suite 140

  • Holy Stitch (apparel and education)
  • Nature’s Keeper (outdoor apparel brand)

Lincoln Properties at 332 Pine St.

  • The Mellow (performance venue/plant store)
  • Sucka Flea (retail shop)
  • Victoria Heilweil & Phil Spitler (artists)

The Gateway at 151 Jackson St.

  • Risa Iwasaki Culbertson (artist)
  • Yonder (retail shop)

BXP at 1 Embarcadero Center, Suite R1113

  • Devil’s Teeth Bakery (bakery)

BXP at 4 Embarcadero Center, Suite 4054

  • Rosalind Bakery (bakery)

BXP at 4 Embarcadero, Suite R4104

  • Teranga (restaurant)

BXP at 4 Embarcadero Center, Suite 4507

  • Whack Donuts (bakery)
  • York Street Café (restaurant)

Holy Stitch owner Julian Prince Dash said he looks forward to connecting with youth to expand his store’s factory fellowship program, which teaches participants how to make their own jeans and streetwear.

“This collaboration with Vacant to Vibrant is a true testament to the resilient and innovative spirit of San Francisco,” Dash said.

Devil’s Teeth Baking Company owner Hilary Passman said she was heartened by the city’s efforts to accelerate growth in Downtown. 

“The Vacant to Vibrant program is an exciting step towards San Francisco’s economic recovery,” Passman said. “We are proud of our city and invested in its future.”

“San Francisco is open for business, and it is great to see the progress being made to revitalize  and rethink how our Downtown serves residents, businesses and visitors,” Mayor London Breed said. “This is an exciting next step for a long-awaited program that I know will be good for small businesses, residents, and visitors to enjoy.”

For the first cohort, the San Francisco Office of Economic Workforce Development and SF New Deal have helped the pop-up tenants navigate the city’s permitting system to enable swift openings. Organizers are also providing each program participant with technical assistance and up to $8,000 each in grants.

Nine of the 17 pop-ups may even extend their leases with the property owners at the end of the three-month period, according to the Mayor’s Office.

The Vacant to Vibrant program is actively accepting applications for activators and property owners to host future cohorts. To apply, go to

George Kelly can be reached at