March Project Update

Survey Sat Theatre

Sidewalk Customer Surveys

The yearlong Castro & Upper Market Retail Strategy has made significant headway. 2014 was largely dedicated to community outreach. 2015 is focused on strategy. What changes does the community want to see in the district, and how can we get there?The goal of the project is simple – to help bring exciting new businesses to the Castro & Upper Market retail corridor. The approach is more complicated. The thriving retail spaces you see are the result of many factors – what people want to buy, what businesses want to sell, what spaces are available, how much those spaces rent for, what regulations govern those spaces, etc. The Retail Strategy aims to understand these factors better so that the community can encourage and help foster desirable businesses.

Survey Sat Whole Foods

Sidewalk Customer Surveys

Outreach for the Retail Strategy has included a broad intersection of stakeholders – tourists, locals, customers, merchants, brokers, landlords, developers and city agencies. Online customer surveys were collected at the same time that customer surveys were collected in the streets. Focus groups and interviews also assisted in better understanding perceptions of the neighborhood from the broker and merchant perspective. Volunteers spoke with pedestrians at the Castro Street Fair, the Castro Farmer’s Market, and delivered information cards at several local cafés. With over 1,200 customer surveys and over 50 merchant surveys completed, the Retail Strategy is being built upon a solid understanding of what the neighborhood wants to see.

Outdoor bars and cafés were the most popular request.
Quality food is also in high demand – a bread bakery, a vegan restaurant, a butcher/fish monger.
Trader Joe’s remains a favorite among many.
Art and more live performances also came up as a worthwhile addition to the neighborhood.

To make these and other new businesses possible, the working group behind the Retail Strategy is exploring sites that can accommodate new uses. Each vacancy is an opportunity – a chance to bring to the area something new. Unfortunately not everything can be located in Castro & Upper Market, so with the limited spaces available the Retail Strategy aims to orchestrate the retail mix to offer amenities that do not currently exist and that make our retail corridor more competitive with our neighbors.

People go to Valencia to try the newest restaurants. Hayes Valley has the hippest boutiques. Union Square has the big name brands. But Castro & Upper Market has a strong sense of community, possibly the highest concentration of LGBT shoppers in the country, and dozens of businesses that have been here for decades. If the retail corridor had some of the things that residents go elsewhere to buy then they’d likely stay local – this too is a goal.

How do customers get to Castro & Upper Market

How do customers get to Castro & Upper Market

The April update will include some initial results from the customer surveys. How do people get here? How much do they typically spend? Are there more tourists or locals in the Castro? We’ll also discuss some exciting next steps in preparation for the final presentation in June. For everyone who’s been a part of this project, a whole lot of thanks.


Andrea Aiello
Castro/Upper Market CBD, Execute Director

Danny Yadegar
Retail Strategy, Project Coordinator

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About the Author: Danny Yadegar

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