On the heels of a promotional "teaser campaign" in social media, the Quesada Gardens General Store opened yesterday. The General Store is an ecommerce site created for the sale of products from San Francisco's southeastern corner. A portion of General Store profits will benefit the nonprofit Quesada Gardens Initiative.
Products now on the shelves of the new online store include Quesada Gardens very own line of jams and honeys, T-shirts and tote bags.
One early customer, QGI Board Member Leah Pimentel, said, "the honey is the best I've ever tasted."
Quesada Gardens' Bayview Jams are getting good reviews too. Three varieties ... strawberry, plum and peach ... are available. They are made from berries sourced at the SF Wholesale Produce Market, just a few blocks from the gardens, when those berries are too ripe for sale but perfect for immediate jam-making.
I am one of the workers behind store development. Brandon Oldham is the other. Both of us have put down roots in Bayview, and are part of Quesada Gardens Initiative. We are also business partners in a new local apparel business called YamStreet.
YamStreet is our skin in the game. Thirty percent of YamStreet's profits through the store will go directly to maintaining the store and the community building projects of Quesada Gardens in the heart of Bayview.
While Bayview and Quesada Gardens stand to gain from the new ecommerce site, all of the start-up costs associated with the General Store are being paid from other sources. We will be seeking additional capital soon, after we close the launch phase of the project.
Why go to all this trouble? We've tried most everything except product sales to fund Quesada Gardens' work. Governmental and foundation grants are tough for community emergent projects like ours to land. And while every donation from a Quesada Gardens' Member feels great, let's face it, the neighborhood isn't known for wealthy people.
YamStreet's first product, Yammies ... PJ bottoms for local living, is in production for sale in the coming weeks. Yammies and other apparel products now in development will be promoted leading up to Valentine's Day when the company will launch more formally.
Longer-range plans for the Quesada Gardens General Store include opening a T-shirt aisle for the sale of community-based organizations' T shirts, participating in pop-up store events, and working toward establishing a public benefit corporation (B Corp).
In the New Year, we plan to add other businesses from the southeastern part of the City to grow the store into a collective of makers. We are curating the General Store to eliminate product duplication, ensure businesses are in production and that they meet all the requirements that come with doing business in San Francisco.
The Quesada Gardens General Store has been under construction for months, and has had the support of key pro bono contributors such as global apparel merchandising expert Jeff Harlowe, Hult International School graduate Mohammed Shaharil Makol Abdul, Bayview YMCA's Gina Fromer and Neal Hatten, SF Wholesale Produce General Manager Michael Janis, Bayview Hunters Point Foundation's Jacob Moody and Kim Shine, Matt Wujek and other University of SF service-learning students, and apparel business leaders who are part of the local trade association PeopleWearSF.