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Cintra Wilson Goes Shopping:

San Francisco Renewal Edition

ArticleLargeThe lull between Christmas and New Year's hasn't slowed down Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson. Apparently coming from a West Coast Holiday jaunt, her report slated for tomorrow's Thursday Styles features Wilkes Bashford, a San Francisco specialty store so legendary that it almost went out of business a few months ago. Both Wilkes, the person and the store, are admired and respected enough that the company's bankruptcy and subsequent sale easily made the front pages of WWD. Thanks to a surprise monsoon, The Shophound missed visiting Wilkes on our trip to California last October, and we are kind of glad in retrospect. We didn't realize it, but it was a store in deep distress at that particular moment.
When faced with the presence of both the store's namesake and one of its new owners, La Cintra wisely keeps most of her barbs in check. After all, this is a store in transition —a new logo in keeping with the style of with its new parent already graces a website otherwise under construction, a dubious improvement. Instead she focuses on the store's carefully cultivated service and charismatic leader. She acknowledges that Wilkes Bashford could benefit from more than a little updating, but leaves the question open as to whether its new owners, the Connecticut based family behind the equally revered Mitchells, Richards and Marshs, are saviors or interlopers, keen to remake the store in their familiar East coast image,
ONE hopes the Mitchells recognize that the soul of the business really shouldn’t change, and that the soul of Wilkes Bashford still belongs to Wilkes Bashford. It’s him; it’s about his humanity, connectivity, genuine kindness and personal interest in everyone, from the collar size and hazel eyes of the rich guy from Pacific Heights down to the assistant accountant in the business department. It’s the recognition that a retail store exists in a community made of distinct individuals.
Tread lightly, carpetbaggers.
Critical Shopper | Wilkes Bashford: The Man Stays in the Game by Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Wilkes Bashford 375 Sutter Street between Stockton Street and Grant Avenue, San Francisco


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