NFT San Francisco Shopping

San Francisco / Shopping

San Francisco is a city where anything can be found and everything can be enjoyed. It's a town that shines with boutiques and thrift stores alike, and even the specialist stores have something for everyone. Nothing's too strange, given that some of the most interesting spots in the city carry stuffed birds, pirate supplies, gigantic bongs and doggie shoes. Most neighborhoods have at least one street with endless retail options, both for those willing to spend some cash ans those inclined to find a bargain. Whether you're a shopper on a mission or simply strolling by a storefront, here are the best places to find the basics and the not-so basics.

Fashionistas could be lost for days inside the many trendy boutiques in town. Neighborhoods like the Fillmore and the Marina glitter with small boutiques, such as Ambiance (Map 2). Hayes Valley features more high-end options, with shops boasting modern looks from new, independent designers. Steven Alan (Map 11) and Azalea (Map 11) feature classic designs, jewelry and handbags while Reliquary (Map 6) is a great spot for vintage wares, in addition to carefully selected new looks.

The Mission is full of hip and new designs, on the cutting edge of fashion. Check out Voyager (Map 11), The Mission Statement (Map 15) and Weston Wear (Map 15) for high end, and Dema (Map 15) for smaller budgets. For more mainstream tastes, head to Union Square and the Westfield San Francisco Centre downtown (Map 7). Just be prepared for crowds of tourists and hoards of street traffic.

For a true vintage shopping experience, head to the Haight. Check out treasures from another era at Held Over (Map 9), Static Vintage (Map 9), La Rosa Vintage (Map 9), Buffalo Exchange (Map 9) and Wasteland (Map 9).

In the Mission, stop by Mission Thrift (Map 15), Idol Vintage (Map 11), Schauplatz (Map 11), Thrift Town (Map 11), and Clothes Contact (Map 11), where you can buy clothes by the pound. For thrift store junkies with a conscience, check out any of the three locations of Out of the Closet (Maps 7, 12), where threads are sold to benefit AIDS research.

Those willing to travel for jewelry, clothing and vintage trends from local designers might venture out to the General Store in the Outer Sunset (Map 23). For style below the ankle, try Gimme Shoes (Maps 5, 11), Shoe Biz (Maps 9, 11, 14), Foot Worship (Map 7) and Camper (Map 8). Fulfill your boudoir fetishes at Dark Garden (Map 11) to squeeze your waist with a custom corset. Zoe Bikini (Map 11) in the Mission is turning heads with custom swimwear designs. Accessorize with the hip custom messenger bags at Timbuk2 (Map 11). If you want to get noticed, try wearing the fancy artisan jewelry at Therapy (Map 15), Claudia Kussano (Map 11) and Gravel & Gold (Map 15).

Skates on Haight (Map 9) sells and rents rollerblades, scooters, and skateboards. FTC (Map 9) on Haight has a great selection of skateboard gear and clothing. If you're into snowboarding and surfing when you're not on your skateboard, then check out Purple Skunk (Map 20) on Geary or SFO Snowboard Shop (Map 9) on Shrader. Before catching a wave, hardcore surfers must head to Mollusk Surf Shop in the Outer Sunset (Map 23). Whether buying a bike or simply fixin' it up, check out Freewheel (Maps 9, 15) where you can tune up your bike, Valencia Cyclery (Map 15), Box Dog Bicycles (Map 11) or the Missing Link Bike Co-op (Berkeley East). Rustic camper types should try finding outdoor gear at the North Face Outlet (Berkeley West), REI (Map 12), and Patagonia (Map 3). Sports Basement in the Potrero District is the L.L. Bean of the west, featuring everything from yoga mats to camping tents (Map 11). Lombardi's (Map 7) in Russian Hill provides a broad range of affordable sports clothing, shoes, and goods.

If you're looking for modern, traditional and unusual furniture, try Artesanias Unique Home Furnishings (Map 2), Monument (Map 11) and Harrington Galleries (Map 11) Try hitting up some of the shops around 9th Street and Folsom and be sure to stop by Propeller (Map 11) for modern designs. If you are looking for a nice mattress, price the one you want at one of the chain stores, then head down to Bedroom Outlet (Map 22), where the family-run store will beat any other price and give you a sweet deal and excellent service. For cheap kitchen outfitters, try City Discount (Map 7) on Polk or Cliff's Variety Store (Map 10) for design savvy, space saving, household basics. For minimalist flatware and efficient kitchen storage items, check out Soko Hardware in Japantown (Map 6). If you're on a low-budget and you want something new, try many of the 'junk' stores on Clement Street in the Inner Richmond or Mission Street in the Mission where you can find anything you might ever need for your home, including sushi dishes, tortilla makers, and those lucky cats that wave at you for good luck. Those on a low-budget who are interested in second-hand treasures, head straight up to Bernal Heights on a Sunday morning for the Alemany Flea Market (Map 35). Lastly, for high-end home and kitchen décor, visit March in Pacific Heights (Map 5). If you have money to burn and the taste to match, head for the East Bay to Berkeley's posh 4th Street shopping district, which features numerous high-end home furnishing and kitchen supply stores, such as The Gardener (Map 121).

Whether you're a visitor or a resident, let's face it: San Francisco is a foodie's paradise. San Francisco's undeniably gourmet food scene strikes a perfect balance between simplicity and extravagance. This goes beyond restaurants and into the ubiquitous specialty food shop. For healthy eating, Bi-Rite (Map 11), Harvest Market (Map 10), Valencia Whole Foods (Map 15) and Real Food (Maps 2, 7) are good neighborhood choices, as are the larger spots such as Trader Joe's (Maps 12, 22) and vegetarian favorite, Rainbow Grocery (Map 11), with fresh produce, bulk foods, and local products. Berkeley Bowl (Berkeley East, Berkeley West) is one of the original large-scale health food and organic produce grocery outlets. For those not so concerned with calories, visit one of the city's many bakeries, such as Tartine (Map 11), Liberty Cafe (Map 35), Sandbox Bakery (Map 35), Arizmendi Bakery (Map 15), Thorough Bread And Pastry (Map 10), and Noe Valley Bakery (Map 14). Top your loaf of bread with slices and spreads from the 24th Street Cheese Company (Map 14) or the Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese (Map 8) in the Ferry Building. Those with a sweet tooth ought to try gourmet ice-cream at Bi-Rite Creamery (Map 11), or the unique flavors of Humphry Slocombe (Map 15). The Ferry Building on the Embarcadero is a food lover's utopia, featuring specialty shops such as Stonehouse California Olive Oil, Blue Bottle Coffee and Acme Bread (Map 8). Visit on weekends for free tastings as well as their extensive farmer's market on Saturdays.

Art & Photography Supplies
Running low on Cadmium Red? Use your last stick of charcoal drawing a nude? The best art stores are scattered all over the city, but Flax (Map 11) is the most well-known. Located on Market Street, it is the size of a small city and sells every type of art and framing supply you can imagine. Blick Art Materials (Map 7) is nearby and sells a variety of materials with a good paint and brush selection—they also feature an East Bay location. You can find the best selection of paper at Paper Source (Map 5) on Fillmore. If you're looking for photography supplies, try Adolph Gasser (Map 8) on Second Street, Photographers Supply (Map 8), Discount Camera (Map 8), Photoworks on Market (Map 10), or The Looking Glass (Berkeley East). Pro Camera (Map 17) on Minnesota Street is great for rental equipment. Arch (Map 13) in Potrero Hill is great for graphic design supplies, portfolios, and gifts. For wearable art, try ImagiKnit (Map 10) or Article Pract (North Oakland/Emeryville) for yarn.

From Billie Holliday through the Grateful Dead and all the way to Green Day, the San Francisco music scene has been legendary. Accordingly, there are music shops with rare finds, nostalgia producing hits, and up and coming underground artists.

Hit up Amoeba Music (Map 9) on Haight for everything from new and used CDs to 78s—it's down the street from the former pads of several sixties bands and is a must for a dazed afternoon in the Haight. It's also the size of a bowling alley. Speaking of large record stores, Rasputin (Map 7, Berkeley East) on Telegraph Avenue offers three stories and two storefronts of new and used tunes. Streetlight Records (Map 10) is another good resource for new and used music. For rare vinyl, stop by Groove Merchant Records (Map 10) or Jack's Record Cellar (Map 10) in the Lower Haight. The smaller stores carry more eclectic selections and, more often than not, the staff can help you out with musical queries. Try indie shop Aquarius (Map 15) for a good selection and Thrillhouse Records (Map 32) for all your punk rock needs.

San Francisco is one of the great literary cities. City Lights (Map 8) is the beatnik throwback essential bookstore and they'll let you have your mail sent there if you're drifting. Specialty books can be found at Dog Eared Books (Map 15) (new and used), Books and Bookshelves (Map 10) (poetry chapbooks), Press: Works on Paper (Map 15) (small press material), Kinokuniya (Map 6) (Japanese) and Needles And Pens (Map 15) (Art and graphic novels). Continue on to the Mission where the independent bookstore is alive and well. On 24th Street, browse through used and new titles at Modern Times (Map 15) or brush up on literary journals at Alley Cat Books (Map 15). Valencia Street boasts 826 Valencia (Map 11), a spot for writing workshops that includes a pirate-themed gift store and a full collection of McSweeneys-related material. In the quaint Noe Valley you will find Omnivore Books (Map 14), which carries new and vintage cookbooks and hosts food-inspired events. In Berkeley try the academically inclined Moe's (Berkeley East) for four stories of new and used books. Oakland's Diesel (North Oakland/Emeryville) not only has a great selection and a good atmosphere, but also hosts book and Spanish language groups. While used books stores abound, you can often find the best (if not most refreshed) selection and price at Community Thrift Store (Map 11).

Where pets are more populous than kids, you can also find more pet stores than kid's stores. Most of them cater to the pampered pooch as well as having standard fare of collars, food, and the like. The Bernal Beast (Map 35) is less pretentious than many such shops and has a good selection at decent prices. Best in Show (Map 10) has a cherry-picked toy selection to keep your pup occupied and the ritzy-est of clothing to keep your little ms. or mr. in fashion, even in the Castro. Noe Valley Pet (Map 14) offers goods that will keep your pet both stylish and organically fed. Aside from designer pooch sweaters, George Shop (Map 5, Berkeley West) even has a selection of fancy baked-good items like birthday cake, donuts, etc. for your pup's special day or just for a treat.

While a boutique might specialize in the clothes, you might find more than just an outfit as you browse. Most stores in the city can qualify as a gift store, with something unique on every shelf and hanger. Bell Jar (Map 11) has a grand selection of gorgeous and unusual knick-knacks, as does Paxton Gate (Map 11), although it is dominated by long-expired, stuffed creatures. The Perish Trust (Map 5) is a uniquely curated shop, specializing in handpicked antiques and Americana. Good Vibrations (Map 11, 7) is the best place to buy your significant other a sex toy, or shop for one together as a gift for your 3-month anniversary. Don't be shy. If you're looking for a classy or fun gift and want to support a good cause, try Under One Roof (Map 10). Every donation or purchase goes to support 35 local AIDS service organizations. If you need to go to therapy, but don't want to deal, at least you can find some retail therapy at the store with the same name (Therapy (Map 11)), that also has a host of gifts like cat-butt magnets and retro-vintage signs. On weekends Telegraph Avenue near the UC Campus (Berkeley East)—already well-endowed with shops of all sorts—is packed with street vendors selling all manner of eclectic crafts, t-shirts, and jewelry. Or, of course, you can go to your neighborhood box store and just ask for a gift certificate.

Neighborhood Shopping
Most parts of the city satisfy any and all retail therapy needs, but the following neighborhoods have enough stores to fill a half-day of shopping activity. Clement Street (Map 21) in the Inner Richmond is great for the host of junk stores, where you can find cheap gloves, bags, and soap as well as restaurant supplies and sushi platters, plus Green Apple Books (Map 21) makes it all worthwhile. Mission Street (Map 15) is much the same with pseudo-hardware stores, thrift stores, and household goods, cheap but often not of the best quality. Valencia Street (Map 15) and Divisidero Street (Map 10) have recently been transformed into a mecca for hip young designers, curiosity shops and boutiques. Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights (Map 5), Hayes Street in Hayes Valley (Map 11), and 4th Street in West Berkeley (Berkeley West) offer the higher-end of neighborhood shopping and great window shopping. Try Cortland Avenue in Bernal Heights (Map 35), 24th Street in Noe Valley (Map 14), and Piedmont Avenue (North Oakland/Emeryville) for shopping in neighborhoods with a nice mix of book, stationery, gift, pet stores, and cafés. The same can be said for the Rockridge District of Oakland/Berkeley along College Avenue in either direction from the Rockridge BART Station (North Oakland/Emeryville).

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Cristian Cartes
Photo:  Cristian Cartes

Stepping into Viracocha is quite the magical experience, once inside it will seem you've been transported to a storybook wonderland. This welcome community-operated space is used as a retail store by day and it also has other surprises by night. Viracocha boasts a beautiful and unique selection of antique furniture, typewriters, clothing, books, and vintage rarities you probably won't see elsewhere. You can feel the detail and care that have gone into creating the dreamy atmosphere present at here. But more than an antique shop there's a downstairs that operates at nighttime and feels like a speakeasy. There's a tiny stage, chairs, and couches to lounge in while on selected nights you can enjoy poetry readings, live music, and comedy shows. The space is intimate and there's this sense that anything could happen. Amongst the long line of shops and stores on Valencia street this is definitely a special place. Be warned though, once inside you might not want to leave.

Posted By:  Cristian Cartes
Photo:  Cristian Cartes

Thorough Bread And Pastry
This bakery is proving to be the little bakery that could. It has seen an increase in business that can only be attributed to it's delicious pastries. Countless times I've walked by Thorough Bread, and while it took me a while to get the pun, it took me even longer to actually go in. I was urged to go in and try the almond croissant. Apparently it was to die for. Well it did not disappoint! It was probably on of the sweetest, richest, and most buttery croissants I've ever experienced. Yes, it was an experience. Also tasty, is an indulgent vanilla and coffee eclair. They a lot to choose from, savory and sweet breads, galettes, tarts, cookies, and more. I have yet to sample the sandwiches but if they are anything like I've had so far, then there's much to look forward to.

Posted By:  Cristian Cartes
Photo:  Cristian Cartes

Red Blossom Tea Company
Located in the heart of bustling Chinatown, this little tea shop is a calming oasis. For the tea connoisseur and for the newbie this shop has it all. They have a wide array of oolongs, pu-erhs, green and whites teas. If you're baffled by what a "pu-erh tea" is, worry not! The staff is educated and friendly and they will teach you all you need to know about the different teas, their history, culture and properties. Red Blossom also sells teapot sets and steepers so you can have your own tea ceremony at home. If you're feeling a bit more daring and would like to make your own blend, they have a whole back section of herbs where you can mix and match and make your own custom herbal infusions. What's also fun about Red Blossom is that they take the time to do tea tastings where you can sit down with a tea expert, taste the tea and learn about where it comes from and what makes is unique. The prices on the vary, as some teas are higher grade than others but everything here is quite reasonable. You'll leave with some delicious tea and just a bit more knowledgeable about this age old tradition.

Posted By:  Valerie Ng
Photo:  Valerie Ng

Unlike New York, we in the Bay aren't used to getting gourmet food served from a kitchen with wheels. OK, so there are the rotisserie chicken and Belgian waffle trucks, but they just park themselves at the farmers markets and don't traverse the city the way that artisan ice cream and Taiwanese food make their way around Manhattan. Cupkates is pioneering the trend in our neck of the woods, bringing its simple yet delectable little cakes to the denizens of Berkeley and Oakland. With no fixed location, the Cupkates truck roams the East Bay, making its route known via Facebook and Twitter. My personal favorite is the lemon raspberry, with its moist, luscious lemon cake specked with vanilla bean topped with a creamy dollop of raspberry frosting. It's pure heaven.

Posted By:  Emilie Russell
Photo:  Emilie Russell

Dynamo Donuts
I don't often eat donuts these days. All of the cons (empty calories, too much sugar, too much grease) just don't outweigh the pros (the joy in throwing caution to the wind and consuming empty calories with abandon, the glorious rush of a sugar high, the delightful tickle of donut grease on my tongue). That being said, I am simply incapable of passing on a Dynamo Donut, which is SO not your average donut. Dynamo has a rotating list of about 16 different types, my favorites being apricot cardamom, coconut, spiced chocolate and maple glazed bacon apple. See? Don't you feel the drool pooling in your mouth right now? And that's only a quarter of the list. The range of textures differ, too--from cakey and chewy to the more classic light and airy piece of fried heaven. Every donut offers something a little out of the ordinary. In short: Dynamo Donuts are dang delicious!

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