The hoot, of course, is that many of the vociferous opponents of the store admit that they buy and wear American Apparel clothing. Some of them wore it to the City Planning Commission meeting to argue against the store opening in their neighborhood.
"Everyone I know is wearing an American Apparel T-shirt right now," said Chicken John Rinaldi, one of the protest organizers. "I wear one every day."
It's another through-the-looking-glass moment in San Francisco. They love the product but hate the store solely because there are about 260 of them worldwide. That means it's a chain and unwelcome under any circumstances.
By a 7-0 vote - including staunch Republican Michael Antonini - the Planning Commission refused to grant the company a conditional use permit.
This only reinforces San Francisco's reputation as America's squeaky-wheel city. If you can get 200 people together and persuade them to show up at a meeting and raise a fuss, you can stop damn near anything in this town. At some point, someone is going to have to stand up and say we've had enough of government dominated by small groups of shouting people.
I am not holding my breath.
"I'm scratching my head on this one," said Steve Adams, president of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro. "There was all this opposition to American Apparel, saying that you need to be socially conscious. Well, they are. They pay their workers more, they have a health plan and they opposed Prop. 8. I'm still trying to figure this one out."
Opponents see it all in black and white. At Thursday night's Planning Commission meeting, public comment on American Apparel ran for about three hours. They railed against retail chain stores as if they were polyester golf pants. One called it "the beginning of the end of Valencia Street," and another warned ominously of allowing "these parasitic entities to come in."