San Francisco: Haight-Ashbury Business Raided, Goods Confiscated

On February 25, agents from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife raided a popular Haight-Ashbury business with confiscation on their collective mind.

As reported in the SF Gate, the 11 a.m. raid at Decades of Fashion was the result of a confidential tip.

Cicely Hanson, owner of the quirky San Francisco costume shop, was not on hand to greet state wildlife agents when they arrived without warning on Thursday morning. Store employees were present when the raid began at 1653 Haight Street, but Fish and Wildlife officers instructed them to leave the premises. The two female employees, whose names were not disclosed, waited in a nearby coffee shop for most of the day while agents removed what amounted to six pages of individually itemized inventory.

Hoodline, a local San Francisco news service, reported an email from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that noted “dozens of coats, shoes, boots, belts, jewelry and other items” were seized in the surprise pre-lunch raid.

Decades, as the locals call it, is by no means Cicely Hanson’s first foray into fashion biz. In an exclusive interview with Hoodline in 2015, the feisty proprietor described her long-time association with the Haight-Ashbury community.

“I lived across the street from the Grateful Dead, and Pig Pen used to chase me up the street. Rock Scully, their manager, used to hide me in the closet. And yes, Janis Joplin hated me because Tim Fish loved me, and she loved him. It’s fun to talk about that.”

Open at its present location since November 11th, 2011 at 11:11 a.m., the one-of-a-kind clothing shop at the corner of Haight and Belvedere streets in San Francisco offers an eclectic selection of clothes made between 1880 and 1980. According to the company website, Decades of Fashion serves a wide range of local customers and San Francisco visitors, including such notable celebrities as Dakota Fanning, Diane Keaton, Marissa Tomei, Carlos Santana, and Frances Bean Cobain. Members of musical groups The Black Crows, Motley Crue, Doobie Brothers, and the Lady Gaga band have also been spotted browsing the vintage wear racks at the San Francisco specialty store.

Fish and game wardens who raided Decades of Fashion were sent to enforce federal laws that prohibit the sale of garments and accessories made from leopards, kangaroos, sea turtles, tigers, and a number of other protected and/or endangered animal species.

So, were there prohibited items in the store? Maybe.

“My store had probably three leopard coats in here, bought from estates. One I believe came from a church group. We bought everything from them. We support all sorts of charitable services,” explained the longtime San Francisco business proprietor.

Cicely Hanson readily admits to collecting and reselling vintage fur pieces made from endangered animals. She told the San Francisco Chronicle that she is aware of laws regarding the sale of second-hand items. She also believes that used clothing is exempt from endangered species regulation.

She stated that many of the confiscated items were not for sale.

“[Fish and game agents] went downstairs to my personal closet and took all my grandmother’s collection of leopard collars. They took my mother’s clothes that I had inherited. It was my closet. The clothes were there only because I am in the middle of building a house in Petaluma.”

Speaking on behalf of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Andrew Hughan stated that while it may be legal to own certain banned items, it is illegal to sell them. The FAW San Francisco area spokesman, who was at the scene of the raid, further explained that a shopkeeper might complain,

“My grandmother gave me a polar bear quilt. Okay, that’s great. She can keep it, wear it, but she just can’t sell it.”

On the day of the raid, Hughan revealed to San Francisco’s ABC7 News that investigators had tagged several items that may indeed be prohibited. The investigation is ongoing.

Hansen, who was not in her shop at the time of the raid, told San Francisco Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik she was “flabbergasted” by the Thursday morning raid.

[Photo via AP Images]