This is a regular feature highlighting businesses participating in the Yerba Buena Bicycle-Friendly Business District.
Yerba Buena might now be a bustling hub of high rises, tech companies and developer conferences, but it certainly didn’t start out that way. Our Bicycle-Friendly Business feature this week is longtime Folsom Street store Appliance Sales and Service Company. Having survived everything from the ‘89 earthquake to the arrival of online shopping, owner Mike Hanika knows a thing or two about running a sustainable business. We sat down with him to discuss the history of Yerba Buena, transportation and the best soda water money can buy.
Appliance Sales and Service offers a 10% discount to people on bicycle and allows customers to bring their bike into the store.
Appliance Sales and Services has been in the Yerba Buena neighborhood for quite a while. Can you tell us a little about your background and what brought you to this area originally?
Appliance Sales and Service has been in continuous operation since 1956. Originally a service branch for Sunbeam Oster products, we became independent in 1985 and expanded to represent all major brands in the electric houseware industry. We specialize in parts and service, with the idea that it is better to replace a part or fix an appliance, rather than add to our landfill and go buy a new one. We think it makes sense for the pocketbook and for the planet.
How has the neighborhood changed in the time you’ve been here?
We were at 3rd and Mission for 47 years, once part of the old garment district here in San Francisco. Surrounded by textile factories and jewelers, the neighborhood began to change with the building of the Yerba Buena Center and Moscone, new hotels and art galleries. Forced out, we landed at 4th and Folsom.
Why did you decide to be a part of the Bicycle-Friendly Business District?
Bicyclists can get to us easily, park their bikes inside the store, and we can assist them with anything they need. As more buildings go up and traffic only gets worse, it really makes sense to use a bike to visit stores like ours.
With the traffic nightmare created by the underground railroad being built 1/2 block away, our store could really use more customers. 80 % of our business is online, but we miss seeing real people come into our store and find what they need, be it a replacement carafe for their French Press or getting their espresso repaired.
Do you ride your bike in San Francisco?
Personally, I don’t bike to work as I live 26 miles out of the City but I would if I could. My biking is saved for those Sunday afternoon trail rides.
What’s an appliance every San Francisco bicyclist should own?
An appliance that every biker should think about? Ever hear of the SodaStream beverage maker? Invest in a machine (under $100) and you can use San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy water to make absolutely remarkable carbonated water for about $.26 a liter. Complete with BPA free carbonating bottles, these devices make sense: they’re green (no more plastic bottles going to the landfill), economical, and convenient—and there’s even 1/2 liter bottles that fit in your bike! Don’t know if that’s enough to make John Muir smile, but its a start.
Interestingly enough the SodaSteam happens to be a staff favorite of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, second only to the trusty French Press. Stop by Appliance Sales and Services the next time you need to hydrate, caffeinate or anything else really!
Want to get even more discounts? Join the SF Bicycle Coalition and use your membership card to get discounts at 70+ local businesses.