Mid-Market Development Brings End to Kaplan's Surplus & Sport Goods

Categories: Business

Now on sale at Kaplan's.
In a retail district always on the brink of some magical transformation, only one store remained frozen in time.

Kaplan's Surplus & Sport Goods offered the same products on the same dusty shelves for decades. As recently as October, it still sold Brazilian soccer cleats from the 1970s with the insides caked with dust. Its walls were still adorned with yellowing posters of Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton in their powder blue Phillies uniforms. And usually, you could walk in and expect to be served by a clerk with the surname "Kaplan."

The Kaplans, who owned their own building, weathered many dramatic changes on mid-Market. It was a bustling theater district when the store first opened, years before camouflage gear or even Converse sneakers would be en vogue. Then it became a BART construction site, and later fell prey to blight and squalor.

But the old sporting goods store soldiered on, and became one of the last dominoes to fall during the latest land-grab, as deep-pocketed developers buy up real estate and lease it out to tech companies or high-end businesses. Evidently, it was time for 88-year-old Zane Kaplan to cash in.

In October, the family quietly announced plans to sell their one-story building, which lies just spitting distance from Twitter. They inked a deal with South San Francisco-based company G and M Hospitality, which plans to convert their storefront into a 90-foot hotel, the San Francisco Business Times reports.

"I was going to try to make it to 99," the elder Kaplan says, adding that he stubbornly fought to keep the store going, even when his nieces and nephews wanted out. "When I had a knee operation, I wanted to go straight from my hospital bed to the store," he says. His wife wouldn't have it.

Ultimately, a combination of family pressure and market exigencies forced Kaplan to buckle. "The time was just right, in terms of Market Street properties," his daughter Cathy says.

Though she declined to reveal details about the sale, real estate experts in the area believe it fetched a good price. Commercial units in the area go for up to $80 a square foot, and the floor plan at Kaplan's is large enough to house a 90-foot hotel with 100 rooms, the Business Times reports.

Unlike her father, Cathy Kaplan has no plans to retire -- yet. Proceeds from the sale had to be divvied up among many family members, she says, and none of them earned enough to abscond to Rio de Janeiro or build a homestead in the Hamptons, much less take themselves off the job market. But she's relatively sanguine.

"You know," Cathy says, dangling the phone as she rushes to close the shop on Monday evening, "one door closes, another opens -- right?"

Kaplan's will remain open through March with blowout sales beginning in the new year. So get those Brazilian soccer cleats while they're still here.

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