Business owner sleeps in office to save shop

June 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A San Francisco man is doing everything he can to keep his business afloat. He's even given up his home. It's the story of a Nob Hill store hit hard by the recession.

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Despite the few customers who trickle in and out, business is slow at Plant Warehouse in San Francisco. It's so slow, the California Street store is way behind on rent; quite a turnaround for a business that has thrived for the past 27 years.

"We're struggling, but at the same time we're trying and that's all we can do," said Gil Gonzales, owner of Plant Warehouse. He's so desperate he even gave up his apartment to save money. He's now sleeping on the floor in his back office.

"I take these blankets and I lay them right here, and I just lay there with a pillow," said Gonzales as he described where he slept. "I couldn't afford to have my apartment and this place, so I figured because I enjoy doing this, and I really do, I love doing this... but you can't have everything."

The San Francisco small business office is trying to help retailers like Gonzalez. It's offering financial counseling and helping with financing. The office has also just launched an ad campaign encouraging San Franciscans to shop locally.

"Shop at your local neighborhood store instead of buying online. If you work outside the city, to make sure you do all your shopping and purchasing inside the city because that's what's keeping our neighborhood businesses afloat," said Regina Dick-Endrizzi with the San Francisco Small Business Office.

City officials know it's not going to be easy. The retail vacancy rate continues to climb, but Gonzalez is holding out hope that his store will weather this recession.

"Someday, I know that I'll get another apartment, but if I don't have this then... this is my happiness," said Gonzalez.

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