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Lauren Murrow | Photo: Margo Moritz | December 17, 2013
Our monthly pictorial study of uniquely Bay Area tribes.
The African Outlet, a 24-year-old, shoe box–size repository of traditional garb, oils, jewelry, and art, feels worlds away from the liquid-nitrogen ice cream, $50 manicures, and designer boutiques of its Hayes Valley neighborhood. But what makes the shop a true rarity isn’t the fabric from Nigeria, masks from Liberia, or sculptures made of wood and human hair from Cameroon— it’s the crew of colorfully clad regulars assembled out front.
Owned by Horgan Edet, a Nigerian, and Judah Dwyer, who hails from Alaska, not Algeria, the Outlet has become a hangout for a certain kind of African traditionalist who drops in to socialize, sell some treasures, or shop. “You don’t have to look or be a certain way to wear African anything,” insists Dwyer, who often integrates elements from Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal into her wardrobe. “I love how the patterns and textures bounce off each other, but somehow it’s not visibly cacophonous.” The storefront sidewalk becomes most packed during international soccer games—there’s a communal flat-screen in the store window—and the Carnaval parade each May. “It can get a little rowdy,” says Dwyer, “but we’re a community. The store is bigger than any of us.” 524 Octavia St., near Ivy St., 415-864-3576
Originally published in the December 2013 issue of San Francisco