San Francisco is one of our all-time favorite shopping cities, full of cool vintage stores, boutique galleries, and high-style design shops. Apartment Therapy bloggers have been visiting and reviewing neighborhood shops there for years. Here are the best of the bunch. (P.S. We're limiting this guide to the SF area, since we're compiling an Oakland/East Bay guide separately...look for that one soon!)
- Mendel's: Smack in the middle of the Haight, Mendel's is a true San Francisco experience. The store's been around since 1952, owned by three generations of the same family, and carries strange and unexpected fabrics, including a particularly vast selection of oilcloths.
- Urban Mercantile: The shop has a beautifully curated selection of contemporary home accessories, including pillows, tableware, glassware and lighting, a small selection of unique furniture pieces, and paintings and ceramics by local artists.
- Artesanias: A good place to look for affordable, high-quality furniture. The primary focus here is on sofas, which can be custom ordered with a variety of options - dimension, legs, configuration, fabric, etc.
- Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: The Ferry Building hosts three markets per week: Tuesdays from 10 am to 2 pm, Thursdays from 10 am to 2 pm, and Saturdays (the largest and most popular market with special demos and events) from 8 am to 2 pm.
- Kar'ikter: This European design store carries classic accessories, like Tintin and Le Petit Prince paraphernalia. They also have an impressive selection of wall clocks, lucite furnishings, colorful glass, mobiles, and Finnish design classics.
- Heath Ceramics: Officially opened for business on March 29th, the Heath Marketplace was designed by Commune (also responsible for the fabulous LA store). The store features five heath tile installations, as well as the full line of tabletop.
- Peace Industry Rugs: Owners Melina and Dodd Raissnia have a store in Hayes Valley and they own and operate their own workshop in Iran which allows them to control the manufacturing process. Their rugs are hand-made in small batches ensuring that each piece is unique and exceptional in quality.
- Quatrine: The showroom boosts an impressive array of stylish upholstered goods that don't sacrifice a single detail. These are the sofas you keep for your lifetime, and then probably pass down to the kids (in short: they're sturdy).
- Modern Artifacts: The store's owner has been collecting and refurbishing mostly mid-century modern vintage furniture, art and home accessories for a little over 20 years. Lots of rosewood and teak tables and credenzas, brightly colored Knoll upholstered sofas, and Bauhaus-esque table lamps.
- Propeller: While the store's owner and buyer loves Eames and Saarinen, he founded Propeller to give emerging and contemporary designers a platform in San Francisco. All of the pieces are either designed or produced in North America.
- Flight 001: A must-visit store for anyone who travels a lot, they have multiple locations throughout the country, including a shop in Hayes Valley. Shop here for designer luggage, space-saving bags, and cool accessories.
- Inside Modern: The shop is owned and operated by a husband and wife team, Emmett and Deanna Marrujo, and everything in the shop is made right here in the USA, and mostly in California (in the Mission)! They're also the exclusive northern California retailer of Modernica.
- Zonal Home: Zonal's owner, Russell Pritchard, scouts folk art and salvages American country furniture from the 1860's through the 1940's. Most of it is made from solid wood and iron, and all of it has a hand-made, rustic quality that can cushion the grind of city life.
- Rare Device: This small shop carries beautiful and unique products, and the store is a wellspring of creative and inspirational designs from a wide variety of designers, artists and artisans.
- AREA: Owner John Giacomazzi has been in merchandising for many years but AREA is his first independent venture, and it's a labor of love. John's a true connoisseur of design, gardening, and craft, and his store is a paean to the mix of the three.
- Eden & Eden: This is a place to seek things that you won't find anywhere else, either because owner Rachel Eden imported them from Europe (like Karin Eriksson ceramics) or because they are one-of-a-kind vintage pieces that she updates by refinishing them in bold, modern colors.
- Urban Burp: Owner Electra Skilandat is as vibrant as her inventory, and her passion for fabric is seen through her shop. From Art Deco to Mid-century Modern, Urban Burp has a pattern (or texture!) for everyone.
- Omnivore: Housed in a former butcher shop in Noe Valley, they specialize in books about food, particularly vintage and hard-to-find books. The illustrations, fonts, and graphics in the books are so much fun!
- The Urban Nest: Here you can find the perfect gift for a housewarming, baby shower, birthday... pretty much any occasion. However, unlike many similar places in the area, the store manages to feel calm and inviting, rather than overwhelming.
- Echo Furniture: Echo dubs itself a "transitional modern" furniture store. These pieces would be great for anyone who is trying to get away from their more traditional roots but aren't quite ready to splurge on the ultra contemporary furnishings. The prices are very reasonable.
- Collage: Owner Delisa Sage started the business years ago as a gallery to display her collage-style artwork, hence the name. The art is still there, but throughout the years the shop has grown to encompass a broader range of beautiful things, including items for the home.
- Forgotten Shanghai: Owner Margarat Currivan stocks the store with everything from beds to consoles to modular bamboo storage cubes, all of it sourced or commissioned in the various provinces of China on her frequent trips there.
- Flipp: The store's owner, Daniel Kowalski, takes his "fashionable living in petite places" motto seriously. Think lamp shades, clocks, small but comfy lounge chairs, affordable throws, etc — all with a modern, high-style aesthetic.
- Public: He's back with a cool new project — Rob Forbes, the founder of Design Within Reach (who left DWR in 2007) launched PUBLIC on April 15th this year. The store carries a collection of modern bikes and gear inspired by a "passion for bicycling in style."
- Lost Art Salon: Nearly all of the artwork here is under $1000. "We want our clients to feel like they're walking into our own living room, not a stuffy, cold intimidating art gallery," says Rob Delamater, who along with Gaetan Caron, founded Lost Art.
- Building REsources: It's sort of like an organized, sanitized version of the proverbial County Dump. If the Dump offered classes. Their Amador Street location is bursting with useful things they do not picture on their website, like salvaged bricks, flooring, lumber, molding, plywood, windows, etc.
- Zinc Details: A fantastic shop on always buzzing Fillmore Street, Zinc Details is a good resource for lucite lamps, modern kitchenware, funky and vintage inspired textiles, and pretty much anything else you'd need to make your home (or a friend's!) hip and contemporary.
- Currents: The boutique setting offers handmade soaps, scented candles, handmade jewelry, and a bounty of accessories for the home. It is a small, locally-owned shop that is a great stop for simple pleasures and great gifts.
- Therapy: They carry well-priced furniture that doesn't sacrifice style. They also have a great selection of stuff for your walls, including retro clocks for under $50 and Rex Ray prints mounted on wood.
- The Apartment: San Francisco's Mission district is chock full of vintage thrift shops, but The Apartment is one of our favorites. Partners Lann Ballard and Lino Beles run the funky shop and are helpful, knowledgeable and are often known to strike a bargain.
- Needles & Pens: A Mission staple for art lovers, appreciators of DIY, and zine lovers. Owned and operated by "fanzine enthusiast" Andrew Scott and "thrift store junky, seamstress, and Strandid Clothing designer Breezy Culbertson, this shop offers a beautiful selection of handcrafted items.
- Room 4: For such a small location, the store has a nice selection of vintage furniture and kitschy accesories for the home. The owner, David, is striving to keep pricing low to promote high turn-over. This translates not only to great deals, but exciting new finds on each visit.
- Little Otsu: This is a local publishing company that peddles its wares on always fun Valencia Street. They carry stationery, planners, calendars, journals, and great art.
- Paxton Gate: In its seventeen years, the scope of this well-known Bay Area destination has expanded beyond plants and taxidermy to include architectural elements, vintage furniture, unique home accessories, fossils, lighting and beyond.
- The Curiosity Shoppe: Owned and operated by design-world DIY gurus Lauren Smith and Derek Fagerstrom, this is a small shop with a well-edited selection of artist-designed accessories and artwork for the home.
- Branch: Everything they sell — bedding, furniture, lighting, tabletop items — is sustainable in some way or another. Furnishings are cool looking and modern, and are made from organic, recycled or reclaimed stock, or from naturally occurring, renewable materials.
- Mollusk Surf Shop and Gallery: Founded by John McCambridge in 2005 in the Outer Sunset neighborhood, Mollusk sells posters and photography, as well as sell clothing, boards, and gear — all curated with West Coast surfer style.
- General Store: This Outer Sunset shop was recently opened by Serena and Mason, whose house tour you can see here. Local Artisans and Craftspeople contribute to the mix of furniture, clothing, tools, plants...a little bit of everything useful.
- Succulence: It might be a little tricky to find upon first visit, but after you make your way through Four Star Video in Bernal Heights you'll enter a lush world. While the main focus is plants, the store also features artwork, tableware, vases and kitchen supplies.
- The Perish Trust: If you're looking for an alternative to MCM vintage stores, The Perish Trust may be your go to source for wares from bygone Americana. Typical items include antique typewriters, dusty old books, and beautifully worn vintage furniture.
- Flora Grubb: Apartment Therapy's own Susie Nadler works at the cutting garden at San Francisco's Flora Grubb. We think her arrangements are gorgeous, but you can check out her work online and see for yourself. Flora Grubb offers local delivery and pick-up, and they also do events.
This post was compiled from several years' worth of Apartment Therapy bloggers visiting and reviewing stores in San Francisco, and it's just the tip of the iceberg. To see all our Bay Area listings, click here.
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Photo: Wikimedia Commons