Castro Merchants co-president steps down after business ravaged in storms

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday January 10, 2023
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Flood damage hit MX3 Fitness in the Castro, leading proprietor Dave Karraker to resign as co-president of the Castro Merchants Association. Photo: Courtesy Dave Karraker
Flood damage hit MX3 Fitness in the Castro, leading proprietor Dave Karraker to resign as co-president of the Castro Merchants Association. Photo: Courtesy Dave Karraker

Dave Karraker, a gay man who co-owns MX3 Fitness in the Castro, among other locations, announced his resignation from the role of co-president of the Castro Merchants Association in an email late Monday.

Karraker, who, along with Terrance Allan, succeeded Masood Samereie in April 2022 as co-leaders of the business group, cited extensive damage done to the Castro location of his business due to the recent winter storms as the reason for his departure.

Karraker owns the gym along with his husband, Glenn Shope.

"With our gym in the Castro flooded during the New Year's Eve rains and completely out of commission, along with a very rough 2022, I have made the very difficult decision to step away from Castro Merchants to focus on my family and our businesses," Karraker wrote in his letter of resignation. "Trust me when I say this decision did not come lightly as I believe Castro Merchants has made fantastic progress in the neighborhood in recent years — building on an already outstanding foundation — which I am certain will continue under the leadership of President Terrance Alan and other members of the board."

The merchants association did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Karraker told the Bay Area Reporter that he showed up at the MX3 Fitness on Market Street near 17th Street the morning of New Year's Eve, during a bout of rain so intense the 101 Freeway was closed in parts of San Mateo County.

"I showed up to check on the gym and when I was there the wall basically exploded in water," Karraker said. "We took 700 gallons of water out of the gym. It was just gushing water that was stuck between us and Beaux."

In a statement, Beaux managing partner Joshua Cook told the B.A.R. that the nightclub did not sustain its own damage.

"We were not damaged by the storm at Beaux," Cook stated. "We are very sorry that our neighbors at MX3 got the storm damage. We hope they are able to recover quickly."

Karraker said the damage came at an awful time because New Year's is typically when "people decide which gym they are going to join for the rest of the year."

Karraker said that the space is seeing a soft re-opening this week; members can work out in part of the gym while repairs are done on the wall. Thankfully, he said, many members were able to be transferred to another location, at 16th and Guerrero streets.

MX3 Fitness owner Dave Karraker. Photo: Courtesy Dave Karraker  

Karraker also said he was "humbled beyond belief" that Core MVMT Pilates, a competitor across the street, started a GoFundMe for MX3, which has raised $7,378 of a $20,000 goal as of midday Tuesday.

"Anyone who knows Glenn [Shope] and his husband, Dave, knows they are the first people to show up and rally behind people when they are down," stated Lisa Thomure, the owner of Core MVMT, who organized the GoFundMe. "From the moment I met Glenn, he has extended himself way beyond just a neighboring business owner — he has become a friend, mentor, cheerleader, and one of my biggest supporters. During the pandemic, Glenn and Dave created a coalition to unite the city's fitness studios — a move that helped countless gyms in the city, including my own. Now they need your help."

The San Francisco Independent Fitness Studio Coalition lobbied for independent gyms and studios during the time of COVID pandemic restrictions.

Karraker also said his landlord has been "outstanding," having sent out a crew within an hour of the December 31 incident.

Karraker said he is proud of his work at the merchants group, telling the B.A.R. that they have made progress in spite of the obstacles San Francisco has seen the past several years.

"We certainly faced a lot of challenges during my tenure, including the pandemic; the drug addicted and mentally ill who have taken up residency in our neighborhood; and an uptick in crime," Karraker stated in his resignation letter. "Through it all, I believe our organization led by example, initiating a significant number of projects to help support our members, including the city-funded program to compensate business owners for storefront windows/doors damaged due to vandalism and burglary; large-scale events to draw consumer foot traffic back to the Castro; being a very vocal, citywide leader in addressing the issues surrounding the unhoused (perhaps even inspiring some other neighborhoods!); and much more."

Karraker was referring to a letter the merchants group sent to city leaders last summer demanding action on a number of issues business leaders experienced, including homeless encampments and people struggling with apparent mental health issues, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

What generated the most buzz, however, was a statement — not part of the letter — that threatened civil disobedience by businesses withholding fees they pay to the city. In December, a group calling itself the Tenderloin Business Coalition also contacted city officials with similar concerns in that part of the city. They are demanding a refund of taxes and fees to help them cover the costs of trying to sustain businesses amid the crime and drug dealing on the neighborhood's streets, as the B.A.R. reported.

"I will continue to be a very vocal supporter of the neighborhood I love so much," Karraker said.

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