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By Jim Christie
Storetrek is a regular Noe Valley Voice beat, covering new shops and businesses in the neighborhood. This month's Storetrek introduces a new fish and pet supplies store and a dry cleaner's on 24th Street, plus a gift shop and real estate firm near Noe's Bar at Church and 24th.
Tropical Island Pet Shop
4190 24th St. (near Diamond)
There are a couple of new "pet shop boys" in Noe Valley -- partners Steve Tang and Kenneth Yu opened Tropical Island Pet Shop in early April, next door to the Diamond Corner Cafe on 24th Street (where the short-lived Used Book Company was).
Actually, Messrs. Tang and Yu aren't really new to the neighborhood. You might recognize Kenneth Yu because he's been a waiter at Tien Fu (3945 24th St.) for nine years. As a matter of fact, he's still at it. Steve Tang is a familiar presence on 24th Street as well -- he worked at B-Tech Aquarium (now closed) for two years, and has a total of eight years' experience in the aquatic animals business. Both are long-term San Francisco residents who currently live in the Crocker-Amazon neighborhood.
Tropical Island Pet Shop carries fish and reptile tanks, aquarium supplies and filtration systems, salt- and freshwater fish, amphibians, and reptiles (and crickets to feed to them). The store also has dog and cat food supplies, toys, collars, flea treatments, and cats' scratching posts.
There's a grand opening sale going on now, with 60-gallon, black-backed fish tanks offered for $169, 30- to 34-gallon tanks for around $50, and 10-gallon reptile tanks for $25. Butterfly Tail and Red Lionhead fish are $4; Chinese Fighting Fish are $3; small, medium, and large Orandos are $3, $6, and $16 respectively; and Gouramis range from $4 to $6.
In the reptile department, Water Dragon lizards run $20 to $30, iguanas and turtles can walk out the door for $15, and pythons are slithering away for $60. Those tasty crickets are 20 for a buck.
Tropical Island Pet Shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Makras Real Estate
San Francisco Marketing
1193 Church St. (near 24th)
Soon after Carroll's Books closed its Church Street location last summer to move to North Beach, the building's owner, Victor Makras, decided to renovate the interior and make it his firms' headquarters.
Makras Real Estate and San Francisco Marketing (a separate Makras-owned company) now occupy the spacious quarters, the exterior of which has been painted yellow ocher and accented with Greco-Roman statuary.
Makras Real Estate is a full-service real estate office that handles residential and commercial listings and also offers property management services. San Francisco Marketing is dedicated to the sales and promotion of larger projects, usually buildings with six units or more. An example is the South of Market complex at 920 Harrison St., which contains 14 live-work lofts.
Victor Makras and his associates are busy these days, as are most realtors in San Francisco's white-hot housing market, but Makras did take the time to extend his greetings: "We like Noe Valley a lot, and we're very pleased to be here."
Makras Real Estate is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (The offices are closed Sundays.)
1185 Church St. (near 24th)
Right next door to Makras Real Estate is one of its commercial tenants: Moptic. The gift gallery opened in May 1998, after proprietor Maria Carranza decided to move from her original Glen Park location. Now her business is only a few blocks away from her Church Street residence, where she and her husband have lived for five years.
Moptic still offers the same eclectic assortment of knickknacks from Pleasantville: hand-me-downs in good condition; vintage jewelry, kitchenware, umbrellas, vases, toys, doll furniture, linens, pillows, and luggage; plus new jewelry, some of it fashioned by local artists. Carranza also carries Mexican photo art cards, as well as her own line of Moptic greeting cards in a variety of designs. (Carranza says she got the name Moptic by placing the "M" from her first name in front of the word "optic.")
A quick look at her wares reveals that earrings are priced from $10 to $80, suitcases range from $25 to $60, vintage purses are $20 to $30, and greeting cards are $2 to $3. Carranza's own line of cards are $14 for eight. There's also an extensive selection of '50s china and glassware, with plates ranging from $14 to $40, and four-piece place settings averaging around $95.
Drop in for a visit -- you might even see Easter and Daisy, Carranza's two pet lop-eared rabbits.
Moptic is open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The shop is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Bay Castle Cleaners
3906 24th St. (near Sanchez)
A new dry cleaning establishment opened in downtown Noe Valley in February. Bay Castle Cleaners is located on 24th Street near Sanchez, in the storefront next door to the old (and still vacant) Cover to Cover Booksellers. The shop sports an orange neon sign that blazes in the window at night.
Here's a sampling of Bay Castle's dry cleaning prices: Long coats, dresses, and men's and women's two-piece suits are $6. Pants, jackets, sweaters, blouses, and shirts are $3, and vests and ties are $1.50.
Laundered shirts are $1.20 and wash & fold laundry costs 60 cents per pound. (The shop does alterations, too.) Bay Castle is currently offering a 30-percent-off "Grand Opening Special."
Whether your clothes need cleaning or not, drop in and say hi to Irene, the smiling and helpful woman behind the counter on weekdays. (The store owners declined to be interviewed.)
Bay Castle Cleaners is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.