Tiny San Francisco Shop May Be Smaller Than Your Closet

SAN FRANCSICO (CBS SF) — An artist’s ceramic shop in San Francisco – where real estate is the priciest in the country  – is easily the smallest store in the city and maybe the country, measuring just 36 square feet.

The Mission District storefront opens up almost like a life-size jewelry box – barely the size of a good closet. Inside, you’ll find a range of hand-thrown ceramics made by Mel Rice.

“I’m a very proud, smallest-shop-in-San-Francisco owner,” said Rice. “I personally wanted a small shop, for me it was all about location.”

The Mission District storefront sits in a nook on the front of Amnesia, a beer and live music venue on Valencia. Rice says the beer hall charges her rent, but declined to say how much.

Rice works seven days a week hand crafting each item at a studio in the Outer Sunset neighborhood. The 36-year-old sells out of her shop’s inventory every weekend, and also sells to commercial clients, including The Battery – a private San Francisco social club.

The shop’s physical footprint is tiny, but her online presence is only getting bigger, with the help of San Francisco-based Weebly – a company that has helped more than 40 million people create websites or online stores.

“Weebly allowed me, not a tech-savvy person, to build a website that reflected my aesthetic quickly without spending thousands of dollars and get my online shop going and reach the global market,” said Rice.

Weebly founder and CEO David Rusenko said his firm creates tools designed to amplify brands like Mel’s. “Small businesses actually have a really hard time using technology and it’s really complicated,” said Rusenko. “We want to be able to create the kind of technology platform that can help the small businesses and the little guys compete with the big guys like Amazon.”

Mel set up her own website in two days, and right now she’s trying to keep up with the high demand. Her total yearly sales are well over six figures.

Rice appreciates having the ability to pursue her passion in a city pretty much run by tech. “It’s definitely a real hustle and struggle, to live as an artist making, hand throwing, handcrafting my art and living and working in the most expensive city in the country.”

Mel hopes she inspires other small stores to pop up in San Francisco … as long as she stays the smallest.

More from Betty Yu

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