Hop in your Chrysler that’s the size of a whale, because the Mission’s Love Shack by SPARC dispensary has just left after a year-long hiatus.
Some of San Francisco’s mind? first dispensaries existed before medical marijuana cards existed. One of those old shuttered pharmacies has returned.
The Love nest is back after closing in March 2018, now under the slightly changed new name Love Shack by SPARC.
Re-established on the corner of 14th and Guerrero Streets, the Love Shack by SPARC is a small old place that is literally both small and old. The retail space feels as small as the smallest studio apartment in San Francisco, but it has served as the Love Shack there since 2002.
“We wanted to embrace the history and character it had in the neighborhood,” says owner Erich Pearson, who also runs the SPARC pharmacies in SoMa and Lower Haight.
“Lots of people passed by as we were putting up the new mural on the floor, jumping up and down, happy to see us here.”
That stone pavement mosaic, with a red heart, doesn’t date from the old incarnation of the Love Shack. And while it once had one of the city’s first smoking lounges, the former Love Shack was always a medical marijuana dispensary. SPARC’s new Love Shack does indeed sell recreational cannabis.
But it’s still the same one-room pharmacy it always was, although the collection of dorm-style posters is gone. A work in progress, the new place looks more like an unfurnished waiting room, and you can only browse store inventory by swiping on iPad menus.
“More pieces to come,” Pearson says SF Weekly, gesturing at a blank wall. “This small store has the challenge of not having a lot of space.”
Pearson just bought the building in December, so SPARC’s Love Shack got together pretty quickly. But just like the newly resurrected Vapor Room, a closed pharmacy is not easy to reopen.
“The city does not allow outright transfers of medical cannabis dispensaries” [permits],” he explains. An existing cannabis retail license only allows a 49 percent transfer of ownership, not a majority transfer. So Pearson had to buy 49 percent of the Love Shack, get zoning and approval from the Office of Cannabis, and then the buy the remainder of his majority stake.
Still, a long-standing San Francisco business has its advantages. In this case, the district has a destination designation of Neighborhood Commercial Cluster District (known as NC1) which does not allow pharmacies.
Because Love Shack was here four years before the passage of the… Medical Cannabis Act in 2006, it was grandfathered in, he says, in reference to the Board’s groundbreaking legislation from more than a decade ago.
There is no consumption or smoking allowed on site at Love Shack by SPARC, but Pearson has some interesting plans once the early smoke clears and the new spot is established.
“We are looking into expanding to the cafe next door and having a consumption lounge there,” he says. That place is currently the Mission Beach Cafe.
No need to knock on the door, honey, because SPARC’s Love Shack is open daily from 10am to 10pm. It may not be the largest pharmacy in San Francisco, but the entire Shack is brimming with local cannabis history.
Love Shack from SPARC, 502 14th St., 415-552-5121 or sparcsf.org/loveshack