Noe Valley Voice November 1998


By Jim Christie

Storetrek is a regular feature of the Voice profiling new shops and walk-in businesses in the neighborhood. This month's column spotlights a tennis and sportswear shop, a new dry cleaners and wash-and-fold laundry, and a video store that boasts a top foreign film section.

Ming House of Dry Cleaning

3649 23rd St. (at Fair Oaks)


Are your fall and winter duds in need of dry cleaning, washing and folding, repair or alteration, or all of the above? Well, there's a new dry cleaning shop at the edge of Noe Valley that will be happy to handle the load.

Ming House of Dry Cleaning opened in mid-August on the corner of 23rd and Fair Oaks streets. The store has a red-white-and-blue facade and a bright yellow interior with high ceilings.

Inside, you're likely to meet the owner, Wai Ming "Jason" Luk, who's been in the dry cleaning business for eight years now.

In fact, the name Ming is quite familiar in Noe Valley when it comes to laundromats and dry cleaners. Ming House of Dry Cleaning is the fifth shop that Jason Luk has opened in five years. But, says Luk, he currently owns and operates only two: the original Ming House at Church and 22nd streets, and his new establishment at 23rd and Fair Oaks.

Luk sold Ming's Coin Laundry on Church near Clipper, and used the proceeds to purchase the building that houses the new store. And the owner doesn't have far to commute either: Luk and his family (his wife and two children, who preferred not to give their names) moved into the second-floor flat above the shop. The Luks are now installing dry cleaning equipment in the rear of the store, so that they can clean all their customers' articles on site.

Here's a sampling of Ming's dry cleaning prices: Shirts, pants, sweaters, blouses, and skirts are $3 per item; dresses are $5.50; two-piece suits are $6; and overcoats are $7. Ming House also handles silk apparel (50 cents more per item), blankets (from $12), and comforters (from $15).

Laundered and pressed shirts are $2 for one, $1.25 each for two to five, and $1 each for six or more. Pants and skirts are $2.25 each. Same-day service costs about 75 cents more in each category.

For wash-and-fold laundry, Ming House charges 70 cents per pound. And for Noe Valley customers who have a lot of dirty laundry (not the personal or political kind), Jason Luk is offering free pickup and delivery of loads costing $20 or more (about 30 pounds).

Ming House of Dry Cleaning is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The shop is closed on Sundays.

21st Century Video

3936 24th St. (near Sanchez)


The mystery of who would be first to occupy space in 24th Street's newest retail complex has been solved.

21st Century Video opened Sept. 23, in the large yellow building built in the lot once filled by the Second Spanish Church next to Bell Market. The video store -- which is one of four shops expected to occupy the ground floor of the building -- rents movies in two formats. It offers the standard VHS videotape cassettes, and the new DVDs (digital versatile discs), the latest technology on CD-size discs. The store also rents DVD players.

The proprietors are Brian and Marlene Dunleavy, a movie-loving husband-and-wife team who are proving that you can go home again. Both are native San Franciscans, and Brian was raised in Noe Valley. The couple spent the first eight years of their marriage living in the house Brian grew up in, near 23rd and Douglass. Since 1987, they've been residing in San Bruno.

In order to launch 21st Century Video, the Dunleavys recently wrapped up successful careers, Marlene as a legal secretary and Brian as a manager at a bottled water company.

They still live in San Bruno, but commute to Noe Valley seven days a week to run the shop. This means they spend a lot time in their old haunts.

"We're very excited to be back," says Marlene. And Brian notes how pleased they are with the store's location, in the busiest stretch of 24th Street.

21st Century Video's gray and white interior is sleek and long, with track lighting throughout. Movie selections are displayed along the walls and in the central area, and they're all alphabetized within categories like "Family," "Drama," and "Comedy."

Current videos are on the lefthand wall as you enter the store. (All new releases arrive on Tuesdays.) Past the checkout counter on the righthand wall, there's a large section devoted to foreign films.

"We intend to be the place to go in the area for foreign movies," says Brian. "We don't have the space to compete with Le Video [the popular foreign film outlet on Ninth Avenue], but we're building a great collection of our own."

21st Century Video might also become a children's movie-watching spot. Brian says that a few Saturdays ago, a number of kids (and parents too) were captivated by The Wizard of Oz, which was playing on the store's 55-inch screen.

The Dunleavys estimate they have about 2,500 VHS and 200 DVD titles on hand. But the DVD library is growing by 20 to 30 movies a week, says Brian.

The store rents new movies for $3 per day; older films are $2 for two days; and adult videos are $3.50 (adult films are in a curtained-off room in the back). A DVD player and three movies costs $14.95 for a loan of two days.

Regular customers get a free bonus rental after renting 10 movies, and they also win a free rental on their birthday. The shop's number-one pick in October was the X Files movie, reports Marlene.

21st Century Video is open Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.

40-Love Tennis & Active Wear

4156 24th St. (above Castro)


Saunter up 24th Street toward Diamond, and you'll see a yellow disk emblazoned with a green "40" and a bright red heart, suspended over the entrance to 4156 24th St.

That's the logo and sign of a new retail store called 40-Love Tennis & Active Wear. Owner Dan Gibby opened the store on Sept. 27, in the space formerly occupied by One More Time consignment shop.

Gibby enjoyed a 15-year career in the hotel industry, with both Kimpton and Hyatt Hotels, before going it alone. When Hyatt offered him a transfer from Atlanta to San Francisco, Gibby, a native Californian, jumped at the chance. He bought a house in Noe Valley two years ago and started planning 40-Love Tennis.

"This is a wonderful place for this kind of store," says Gibby. "There are plenty of tennis courts around, and we're right in the heart of San Francisco."

Naturally, 40-Love specializes in tennis clothing and accouterments, but there's also an impressive selection of... you guessed wear.

You'll see familiar brand names such as Reebok, Adidas, Everlast, and Head, to name a few. There are sweatsuits (from $60), lycra pants (from $25), sports bras ($17 to $30), tee shirts ($11 to $18), shoes (walking, running, and tennis, from $50), sunglasses (from $10 to top-of-the-line Bollé at $135), gym shorts, caps, watches, and sports bags.

The clothes and tennis gear are displayed in 40-Love's remodeled interior, a bright and airy two-room space (one room is "For Women Only"). There's also a dressing room and restroom.

40-Love carries well-known tennis racquets -- by Prince, Dunlop, Gamma, and Wilson -- which retail anywhere from $35 to $260, with the average between $80 and $120. Tennis balls are $3 to $3.50 a can.

"I want to appeal to recreational tennis players rather than club players," says Gibby, who's been a recreational player himself for years. He points to the store's bulletin board, which lists community events but also serves as a place for people seeking tennis partners to post names and phone numbers.

40-Love also handles tennis racquet grip replacement and repair, and racquet re-stringing. The store's "Frequent Stringer Program" awards every third stringing free of charge. (Stringing ranges from $18 to $30.)

Gibby will also be carrying juices, health bars, and vitamins. And don't forget the pooch -- grab a can of "Fetchum's" (natural felt, no-dye tennis balls for dogs). Gibby is also developing an Internet web site for eventual online purchasing. In the meantime, customers are welcome to contact him at his e-mail address:

The hours at 40-Love Tennis are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.