Seems like a trendy new shop pops up weekly on Valencia Street in San Francisco's Mission District. And there are a few favorite shops I haven't visited for a while. My friend Karen and I have been collecting "best of" articles and a few Saturdays ago decided to devote the entire day to exploring all that we could. Armed with a list culled from The San Francisco Chronicle we hit the sidewalk at 10 am only to be met with closed signs on every door. We quickly learned that night-owl hipsters don't open their doors until noon. We passed the time refreshing ourselves at Bar Tartine; which was a wise choice as we needed the energy for all the shopping and exploring that lay ahead. Throughout the day, we looked, touched, tried on, analyzed (and made a few purchases) until 7 pm when we returned to my house and Matt made us much needed Negronis. We still had a couple more shops on our list we didn't get to. Next time!
Here's what we discovered. (Warning: lots of links and photos. Make yourself a coffee or Negroni to enjoy this little tour.)
Bar Tartine, owned by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, James Beard awarded chefs, was the perfect beginning for our shopping excursion. Above is the rustic sandwich counter, made homey with sparkling jars of preserved fruits.
We each had a latte and shared a chewy and satisfying Langos, which is Hungarian fried potato bread garnished with sour cream, garlic and dill. And finished with a sweet of cheesecake crumble and fresh raspberry sauce.
Finally, a the crack of noon, the stores opened and we could begin shopping. First shop: Weston Wear. Owner and designer Julienne Weston has sold her designs in The Mission for at least twenty years. Her separates and party dresses are usually made of an easy-to-wear and pack stretchy mesh fabric. Her colors and prints are always on trend. Karen and I each bought a scarf. Hers with polk dots and mine with an Ikat print.
|Great prints and colors at Weston Wear.|
Near Weston Wear is mid-century furniture and decor mecca, Monument. No real deals here, but it's a great place if you have some specific piece by a specific designer in mind or just want to meander around to get inspiration. Karen spotted a 60's heavy clear square acrylic plastic ice bucket that she thought would look like a jewel on her credenza. She didn't buy it then, but I've just been informed that she went back and bought it.
Next, we popped into The Curiosity Shoppe, "curios for the creatively inclined." We found fun, quirky and nostalgic decor and crafty items.
The Curiosity Shoppe is opening a pop-up store at Target this Sunday, September 9.
No purchases, but we liked these dipped rope knot bracelets by Tanya Aguiniga:
|Photo from thecuriousityshoppeonline.com|
Then on to Casa Bonampak, a longtime favorite of mine because of their great Day of the Dead accessories, they are now in a much larger new location.
Nancy Charraga, with the title of Cultural Preservationist, patiently answered all our excited questions about their custom papel picados. From Nancy I learned about master papel picado artist and
altar-maker Herminia Albarran.
Obamanos! Of course, I had to purchase the fabulous Obama paper banner.
Our next stop was the tiny shop Laku. Owned by designer Yaeko Yamashita, this shop has been on Valencia Street for twenty years. All the items are handmade by Yaeko and her team.
If you look very carefully, Yaeko is in the photo, sewing one of her new creations. Karen bought one of the darling silk party hats (hanging upside down from the branch) for her little niece's birthday.
One of my longtime favorite dress shops is Dema. For over fourteen years designer Dema Grim has sold her bright, trendy yet classic clothes, along with other well-curated labels.
Betsy was super sweet, taking the dress off the mannequin so I could try it on. It fit and I couldn't resist it. It's Dema's Marni dress which she makes in various prints and colors. This muted, smoky flower print is a perfect transition to fall. Looks great with my all-time fav: black tights.
Then to Virachocha (great old-timey jazz is played on the website). It's a beautifully designed shop. You feel like you're entering a movie set of an older era. Viracocha is run by a collective of artists and performers selling vintage and antique items. Part of their philosophy is to "Create a transparent marketplace, where the consumer feels he or she is given a fair deal for exceptional merchandise. Foment that bridge between the discarded and the reusable. Breathe new life into the beautiful remains of our past, and reveal the necessity of history, in the items we use and view daily."
At Viracocha, William B. Kirkpatrick entertained us shoppers with ragtime and boogie woogie piano.
We were getting a little bleary at this point. But we stumbled into Aldea, "inspiration for every room." Even in our overly-visually stimulated state, we could still appreciate the vibrant prints and patterns.
I really liked and could see using this Modfire Urban Gasfire. I'll have to take hubby Matt to the store and see what he thinks, but at $1500, it'll have to go on the wish list. (I've just been informed by hubby that he has already designed something similar).
The detox market. Gwyneth Paltrow would like it here. The shop is a white, open airy space filled with boutique beauty and health brands that are pure, natural and toxin-free. "Parisian chic meets green California" is how the owners Valerie Grandury and Romain Gaillard describe it.
826 Valencia, billed as "San Francisco's Only Independent Pirate Supply Store", it's actually a writing center for students ages six to eighteen, started ten years ago by Dave Eggers.
Instructional signage for visiting pirates.
Another shop packed with curios and curiosities with the addition of mounted animal heads -- Paxton Gate.
Flora, fauna, terrariums and Bromeliads abound at Paxton Gate.
Sunhee Moon, eponymously named dress shop, had some darling tailored styles in solids and very wearable prints and colors. Sunhee designs everything and it's all made right in the Mission District.
As Sunhee says, her styles are "perfect for the modern-day Audrey Hepburn."
And then our final stop, The Bell Jar, with silk dresses by Eskell, soaps by claus porto and jewelry by House of Harlow, there are lots of "gorgeous little things" to admire and be tempted by. At this point, Karen and I are still trying on clothes. We're still trying on jewelry. But we're loopy and too visually maxed out to appreciate the fabulousness that is here.
There's a little bit of everything in this small shop.
All our shopping was within six blocks; starting at Valencia and 16th Street, we walked to 22nd Street and back. And like I said at the beginning, there are many more shops that we didn't make it to: Pot and Pantry, Self Edge, Painted Bird, Afterlife...I'm not kidding.
We're gonna need a month of Saturdays to do Valencia Street justice.