Co-owners Laurie Lazer and Darryl Smith have operated Luggage Store from the top floor of the Walker Building at 1007 Market Street since 1991. As fixtures of the San Francisco art scene since the late 80s, Lazer and Smith first founded The Luggage Store in the Tenderloin at 509 Ellis Street (why it’s also known as The 509 Cultural Center).
An early champion of artists like Barry McGee, Clare Rojas, and photographer Cheryl Dunn, The Luggage Store continues to host dynamic art exhibitions, murals, and a variety of community-oriented events.
In 2014, CAST acquired the Walker Building during a time of rapid change in the neighborhood. The purchase allowed Lazer and Smith to maintain occupancy of their building, which was at risk of sale to private investors, and the opportunity to ultimately assume full ownership. Over the course of several months from 2015 to 2016, CAST oversaw a renovation project that allowed the Gallery to maximize its space to advance its mission. To secure the space for the arts in perpetuity, a deed restriction was also placed on the building so that, in the event it did have to sell, it could only go to another arts nonprofit.
Located in an existing historic three-story mercantile concrete-framed building, The Luggage Store Gallery received upgrades to all existing mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural and fire and life safety systems. CAST, in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, is helping the Gallery build its capacity to purchase the building at the end of the seven-year period so it can remain in Central Market as an anchor community arts organization.