San Francisco becomes largest U.S. city to adopt ban on new fur sales

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the sale of new furs beginning in 2019.

Less than a mile away from City Hall on 8th street near Howard, fur dealer Benjamin Lin shows KTVU around his store named B.B. Hawk.

I'm not going to be able to sell fur, new furs,” he told us while showing KTVU around his store.

He is not unfamiliar with opposition to his chosen trade and said that animal rights activists have targeted him for years. After realizing the huge support that developed around the proposed ban, he decided not to attend Tuesday’s vote. 

“I've been aware all along that there is some opposition toward fur, which was well accepted, understood, I never argued,” Lin said.

While the cities of Berkeley and West Hollywood already ban fur, San Francisco becomes the largest U.S. City to adopt such a measure. 

In a tweet sent out less than two hours after the ban was approved, The Humane Society called it "a historic victory for millions of animals cruelly confined and killed for their fur."

Among the reasons that Supervisor Katy Tang introduced the legislation was the estimated 50 million animals that are “violently killed every year for their fur...” and that the product was inconsistent with the “city's ethos” of treating all living beings with kindness.

"Supervisor Tang and San Francisco are leading the way in making a more compassionate world for animals,” said Wayne Hsiung co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). “This historic act will usher in a new wave of animal rights legislation across the globe."

Roughly 50 stores in downtown San Francisco sell fur garments, including major retailers. 

Sales are estimated at around $40 million a year, according to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. 

While it is likely that major retailers in the city can cushion the hit to their bottom lines thanks to diversified product sales, smaller operations like Lin’s B.B. Hawk face a more uncertain outcome. 

“At this moment I'm struggling (and) I'm not really making much money. And I could hardly meet what I need, so if I lose the 40% that will definitely devastate me,” Lin told us of the ban’s impact on his bottom line. 

For now, he is thinking about relocating outside of city limits to keep his business afloat. 

The new city ordinance does not affect vintage or used fur sold at secondhand stories, pawn shops or by nonprofits. 

While the ban on fur takes effect January 1st 2019, retailers have until January 2020 to sell off existing inventory.