When ideologues bash California as a gargantuan failed state mired neck-deep in political correctness at the expense of public safety and economic growth — which, of course, we’re not — one common retort is heard most often: If we were an independent country, California would be the sixth-largest economy in the world.
There’s truth to that, of course. But the downside is that the incredible wealth found in early-21st-century California is out of balance, and the money that’s poured into the Bay Area since the recession and housing crisis has caused a large proportion of what made San Francisco unique to evaporate. Rents are, in a word, ridiculous — and allegedly left-wing California forbids jurisdictions from implementing commercial rent control. The city’s Legacy Business Program aims to stanch the bleeding, but it can only do much.
For good or for ill, capitalism giveth and capitalism taketh away. Against this backdrop, the plucky small businesses that remain are, to us, superheroes of a sort. They’ve held on and even thrived, simultaneously beneficiaries and victims of the new prosperity. And from boutiques to breweries, there’s always something new to check out. So we invite you to thumb through our annual guide to the Best of San Francisco — newly expanded in scope to include all the cannabis-related products and businesses out there — with a sense of optimism that S.F. has a ton of worthy stuff to check out. (Naturally, we put in some silly stuff, too, ’cause this is kind of a silly town.)
When tech startups come along and landlords nix renewing leases on favorable terms, these are the businesses that go “Pew pew pew!” and shoot lasers. Let’s show them a little love.