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The Best Places to Shop in S.F. in 2018

From clean beauty and cool kimonos to wool shoes and wearable tech: These shops stock what you want.



Photo: Matt Edge

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Clare V.

Photo: Ulysses Ortega

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Acne Studios

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Heath Newsstand

Photo: Mariko Reed

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Photo: Joe Budd for Urban Chalet Inc.

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Read more Best of San Francisco 2018 here.


Women’s Shoes: Freda Salvador
2416 Fillmore St., 415-872-9690
The most convincing rebuttal to people who still say San Francisco lacks style is to kick them (lightly) with a pair of pink satin loafers from cult brand Freda Salvador. The Sausalito-based shoe company with a boho-dreamy flagship on Fillmore has been turning out its signature low-heeled leather creations since fall 2012. Self-declared Freda Girls—whose ranks now include Taylor Swift, Gigi and Bella Hadid, and Tegan and Sara—have made a habit of trying to collect them all.
Runner-up: Bulo

Bags: Clare V.
344 Linden St., 415-834-5187
The handbag cognoscenti collectively cheered when L.A.’s Clare Vivier opened her exquisitely curated Linden Street boutique last year. It boasts the brand’s butter-soft leather goods paired with a limited selection of jewelry, tees, and carefully chosen mags and art books. Her totes, handbags, and cross-bodies are hands-down the best around, thanks to a combo of innovative materials and textures (like perforated leather) and crazy-cool patterns.
Runner-up: Cuyana

Jewelry: Metier
546 Laguna St., 415-590-2998
This jewel box of a shop in Hayes Valley is filled with a mix of antique Victorian trinkets (ruby-studded beetles) and vintage-inspired lockets, chains, and glittering gems (black diamonds are a specialty) from contemporary designers such as Annie Costello, Gabriella Kiss, and Marla Aaron. Even the ­midnight-blue walls of the 250-square-foot shop are leafed with gold. But the most valuable commodity inside might just be proprietors Sheri Evans and Trina Papini, who handpick all the jewels themselves and can help conjure up the perfect bauble for any occasion.
Runner-up: Waant

Men’s Accessories: Welcome Stranger
460 Gough St., 415-864-2079
Suede and corduroy ball caps ($85–$90), locally designed work boots named after our iconic radio tower ($218–$228), and nearly half a dozen styles of the perfect aviator ($180): These are just a few reasons why this S.F. institution is where the boys are (at least the aesthetically astute ones). And alongside brands such as A.P.C., Homecore, and Native North, Welcome Stranger’s house brand is the epitome of NorCal cool, 100 percent designed and manufactured in California.
Runner-up: Iron & Resin

Sustainable Shoes: Allbirds
53 Hotaling Pl., 888-963-8944
This local brand (by way of New Zealand) has made its biggest splash not among the sartorial set but with the Silicon Valley one. Tech founders seem to be the biggest fans of the super simple, comfortable shoe. Version 1.0 ($95) was a knit wool loafer that came in six toned-down colors. Version 2.0 (also $95) came out in March and is made of eucalyptus fiber, which is even more eco-friendly than wool, not to mention more lightweight and breathable—a plus, because apparently the current crop of disrupters prefers to go sock-free. Visit the brand’s pop-up inside Shinola through July 31 while the neighboring showroom gets a facelift.
Runner-up: Rothy’s

Makeup: Credo Beauty
2136 Fillmore St., 415-885-1800
The secret is out about all the gnarly, harmful chemicals baked into many mainstream beauty products, so it’s no surprise that natural alternatives are no longer a niche demand. Credo Beauty does all the homework for you, parsing ingredient lists and stocking only brands that pass the store’s “dirty ingredient” test, among them Plume Science, Le Prunier, Ellis Brooklyn, and Vertly. At Credo’s Fillmore Street outpost, you can binge on good-for-you beauty products and also indulge in makeup and waxing services at the beauty bar.
Runner-up: TheBalm

Skincare: AES Beauty
222 Columbus Ave., 415-871-0237
Did your skin miss the memo that high school is over? For acne sufferers of all ages, the message may finally be delivered in a little black-and-white bottle. AES Beauty is the house brand of the North Beach acne clinic of the same name; AES’s founder, Kimmy Pigliucci, specializes in tailoring a skincare routine aimed at eliminating each client’s specific breakout triggers. Her line of cleansers, toners, hydrators, serums, and sunscreens includes not only zit zappers but also all-purpose skin soothers—fine lines, discoloration, and even mild scarring start to fade soon after the pretty bottles take up residence in the vanity. ­
Runner-up: The Face Shop

Fragrance: ZGO
600 Castro St., 888-789-4753
The best-smelling shop in town has to be ZGO (for Zen Garden Oasis), which specializes in all things fragrant, including perfumes, candles, teas, and home scents. The shop stocks nearly 100 brands from around the world—a favorite is France’s Cire Trudon, the world’s oldest candlemaker, which used to whip up custom wicks for King Louis XIV. Owners Tani Kampakum and Claude Gratianne are passionate olfactory experts who can steer customers in the direction of a scent that speaks to them, be it for their skin or their bedsheets.
Runner-up: Legion

Wearable Tech: B8ta
590 Hayes St., 415-534-5279
VR-curious? You can test out all the newest tech at this early adopter’s paradise, from the Snoo baby-soothing crib ($1,160) to the Hydrao smart showerhead ($100) to all those electric skateboards ($350–$1,200). B8ta was founded by the folks behind Nest Labs (which was sold to Google in 2014) as a 2.0 brick-and-mortar shop, with store employees—called B8ta Testers—gathering useful data to send back to each brand’s HQ. It’s a fun, futuristic retail experience in the heart of the otherwise analog Hayes Valley shopping hub.
Runner-up: Urban Safari


Women’s Wear: Hero Shop
982 Post St., 415-829-3129
When you can shop Tibi in the Tenderloin, you know the times are a-changing. Emily Holt, a former Vogue editor turned S.F. It Shopgirl, opened Hero Shop to solve the problem of Colette being a pesky plane ride away. The high-low selection covers everything from the hottest names on the runway (Altuzarra—coming fall 2018—Saint James, Stevie Howell) to choice picks for the home (Areaware, MMClay, Jonathan Adler) to your favorite pair of Vans sneakers.
Runner-up: Anaise

Kimonos: Kim + Ono
729 Grant Ave., 415-989-8588
The kimono is easy to love—wear it inside or out, day or night, as a dress or a jacket over a pair of skinny jeans—so it’s no surprise that it’s having a fashion moment. Which made it the perfect time for a pair of sisters who grew up inside their family’s Chinatown shop (Old Shanghai) to take it over and transform it into a fashion-forward kimono boutique. The gorgeous silk-and-charmeuse kimonos all feature hand-painted patterns, yet are surprisingly affordable ($48–$220). The bright and airy space offers a welcome moment of minimalism amid the overflowing tchotchke shops of Grant Avenue.
Runner-up: Shige Antiques

Menswear: Maas & Stacks
2128 Market St., 415-678-5629 For guys who have set their sartorial standards above the generic hoodie but don’t need to show up anywhere in a suit, there is Maas & Stacks. It’s where in-the-know artists shop, or at least the ones who have racked up some sizable commissions. The store is stocked with cutting-edge cool-kid brands like Acne Studios, Craig Green, Nonnative, and Visvim.
Runner-up: Taylor Stitch

High-Tech Fashion: Ministry of Supply
1903 Fillmore St., 415-529-2210
Leave it to a San Francisco startup to radically reengineer the blazer. Ministry of Supply puts out a line of “performance professional” duds including a Kinetic blazer that you can throw in the washing machine, that utilizes your own body heat to release wrinkles, and that’s water-repellent and moisture wicking. The Ministry’s other men’s and women’s pieces may look simple (solid-color shirts, jackets, and sheath dresses), but they’re all packed with features that might just make you show up to work feeling superhuman.
Runner-up: Betabrand

Activewear: Outdoor Voices
555 Hayes St., 415-678-5456
Whether you’re actually working out or just want to look like you are, Outdoor Voices is the place to shop for on-trend leggings, running shorts, sports bras, sneaks, and even an “exercise dress.” The Hayes Valley shop epitomizes that #athleisure life: Shoppers can sit by a gurgling Zen fountain and sip tea while watching live feeds from national parks projected onto the wall.
Runner-up: The Darkside Initiative

Vintage: Afterlife Boutique
988 Valencia St., 415-796-2398
Two words: T-shirt vault. From TLC to Janet Jackson to Smashing Pumpkins, this Mission district­ shop is where ’90s-concert-tee merch (plus so much more) comes to launch its reunion tour. Afterlife has been a destination for vintage-fashion hunters for nearly a decade, and what sets it apart is the discerning eyes of its buyers, brother and sis Luke and Danielle Teller. The shop is filled with perfectly worn denim and leather jackets, killer designer dresses from days gone by, and a rocker-chic jewelry line designed by Danielle.
Runner-up: No Shop

Online Consignment: The RealReal
If the prices for designer clothes and accessories are just too, well, real for your pocketbook, there’s the RealReal. It’s for runway watchers and brand devotees who don’t mind a previously worn Prada if it means up to 90 percent off the retail price. The online consignment shop recently held a pop-up in San Francisco and opened a permanent brick-and-mortar in New York City, but online is still where the majority of the action is: The company processes 250,000 to 300,000 items per month, and dedicated shoppers search the site daily for new deals.
Runner-up: Poshmark

Children’s and Babies’ Clothes: Whoa Dude!
3255 Sacramento St., 415-481-1778
Because there is only so much Baby Gap one parent can take, a pair of e-commerce-savvy European parents made it their mission to bring all the coolest kids’ clothes to San Francisco. Whoa Dude! started as an online shop a couple of years ago, carrying brands such as Buho, Milk & Biscuits, and Mini Rodini, but its storefront debuted in February. The owners, who hail from Barcelona, named their business for the first American phrase their son learned to say.
Runner-up: Kira Kids

Designer Boutique: Acne Studios
18–24 Geary St., 628-444-3238
This white-hot Swedish label finally graced San Francisco with a storefront late last year, and as an extra nod of respect, Acne’s creative director, Jonny Johansson, chose International Orange—the official hue of the Golden Gate Bridge—as the store’s signature color. Inside, sparsely hung racks of Acne’s contrarian-cool clothes (rainbow-striped rugbies, $420, and bedazzled denim skirts, $740) nod to ’90s nostalgia but maintain the brand’s minimalist tone.
Runner-up: Le Point

Basics with a Conscience: Everlane
461 Valencia St.,
This S.F.-born fashion brand launched as an online shop in 2011 and went gangbusters thanks to its simple, sturdy styles and its embrace of transparent, ethical manufacturing and pricing. (Its website reveals what each piece costs to produce.) But with the opening of its flagship a few months back, Everlane evangelists were finally able to walk into an IRL version of the URL. Perhaps feeling inspired by the omnipresent queue outside Mission district neighbor Tartine, Everlane requires customers to wait in line outside the store to limit the number of shoppers—not quite as convenient as one-click buying, but maybe a little less lonely.
Runner-up: ­Amour Vert

Jeans: Self Edge
714 Valencia St., 415-558-0658
The commitment to denim runs deep at Self Edge. In addition to stocking the best denim brands from around the world (the founders were inspired to start the store when they discovered game-changing Japanese labels), it also has a full-service denim repair shop at each branch, including a heavy-duty chain-stitching machine, and claims that no piece of denim is too far gone for its master tailors to revive. The strategy appears to be working: The San Francisco–born retailer now has outposts in L.A., New York, Portland, and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico.
Runner-up: Denim & Soul


Retail Disrupter: Year & Day
If you’re trying to impress your dates by serving up handmade pasta on Mom’s hand-me-down Pfaltzgraff, then it’s high time you got your kitchen cabinets in order. Year & Day works with trusted factories in Portugal and Italy to create its line of simple yet chic plates, bowls, platters, and high-quality flatware and glasses and sells direct to consumers via its online shop. But its prices (dinner plates and big bowls are $13 apiece) mean there’s no need to wait for a wedding registry to start serving meals like a grown-up. The ceramics currently come in four California-coastline-inspired colors, including Fog (light gray) and Daybreak (that oh-so-popular pink).
Runner-up: Revival Rugs

Vintage Furniture: Stuff
150 Valencia St., 415-864-2900
Stuff’s two spacious floors (adding up to more than 17,000 square feet) are filled with stylish stacks of vintage dishes and artful piles of…well, everything, making for a shopping experience that’s more akin to a treasure hunt. But the secret sauce is the selection: For all the “stuff”—and there’s a lot of it—there’s no junk, just quality if quirky finds, from Eames chairs to Bakelite rotary phones to art deco lamps.
Runner-up: Field Theory

New Furniture: Dzine
128 Utah St., 415-674-9430
For instant inspiration, take a stroll through this expansive design showroom, one of the few places in the Bay where you can find Italian brands such as Paola Lenti, Baxter, and Poltrona Frau. The crew of on-staff design experts are constantly reconfiguring the 15,000-square-foot space with a killer combination of cutting-edge pieces from European design houses and sublime art and accessories from local artists and makers.
Runner-up: Coup d’Etat

Home Decor: The Future Perfect
3085 Sacramento St., 415-932-6508
The future would indeed be perfect if you could conjure up an apartment of your own with as much style as this Sacramento Street shop. This is the place to go to discover that young designer about to make a splash on the international design scene: The gallery has been the launchpad for names such as Lindsey Adelman, Jason Miller, and Kristin Victoria Barron. While it offers large pieces such as sofas and beds, the witty and out-of-this-world lighting and accessories collections are by far the most fun to browse.
Runner-up: H.D. Buttercup

Plants: Roots
425 S. Van Ness Ave., 415-817-1592
This charming indoor jungle in a grittier section of the Mission district is, like many plant shops, a green mini-oasis. What sets it apart is its flora-whispering owner, Michelle Reed. Besides being welcoming and friendly, she has helped countless people transition into successful plant parenthood by recommending the ideal adoptee for sun-starved office cubicles, shadowy living rooms, or sunny kitchen window boxes. Loyal customers trade tales of her saving their wilting ferns and wrinkled succulents and transforming city apartments thanks to custom terrariums and living walls.
Runner-up: Hortica

Tableware: March
3075 Sacramento St., 415-931-7433
Abandon that pile of dirty dishes in the sink and sneak off to kitchen nirvana. At March, rainbow-hued spices are displayed in elegant glass jars, hand-thrown serving ware is stacked in piles on open wood shelves, and a fat-bellied AGA cooker sits against a wall of spotless subway tile. Owner Sam Hamilton worked under both Ralph Lauren and Alice Waters, so is it any surprise that she now heads up the most stylish tableware store in the city?
Runner-up: Heath Ceramics

Gifts: General Store
4035 Judah St., 415-682-0600
Owned by an artist and an architect, this simple beachside shop is a standard-bearer for the NorCal aesthetic. Simple, geometric architectural elements in unfinished wood serve as a canvas for locally sourced items that run from straw hats to block-printed tea towels to delicate jewelry. And because artful clutter is only artful when there isn’t too much of it, the owners just opened a second location in town that specializes in home goods, with an expanded selection of rough-hewn ceramics, touchable textiles, woven baskets, and heady incense.
Runner-up: Jay Jeffers

Dollar Store: Daiso Japan
22 Peace Plz., 415-359-9397
Combining useful bargains with useless but wonderful buys, this Japanese general store stocks nearly everything you can imagine. There are the expected cheap kitchen doodads like oven mitts and dish sponges in every style—though even those are cooler than their American counterparts—but also genuine treasures, such as pretty Japanese dishware, origami paper, calligraphy tools, bento products, sensu fans, and stationery. Not everything is actually priced at a dollar, but even if you walked out with half the store, you’d still save some serious yen compared with buying that plane ticket to Tokyo.
Runner-up: One Dollar Only

Pet Store: Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods
284 Noe St., 415-864-1414; 1841 Powell St., 415-402-0342
For a populace that loves food and dogs in equal measure, there’s Jeffrey’s. Sure, it’s stocked with pooch parkas, sparkly collars, and squeaky toys, but it’s what comes out of the kitchen that earns this shop top marks: Jeffrey’s makes gourmet pet foods from scratch and delivers them throughout the Bay Area. The fresh, all-raw meals (which start at $7 per serving) are made with hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, organic vegetables, and a house blend of vitamins and minerals; menu options include combos such as beef, rice, and beans. The shop also plays host to puppy-training classes and small-dog socials.
Runner-up: Animal House

Rugs: Peace Industry
2235 Mission St., 415-255-9940
Dodd and Melina Raissnia didn’t just start a rug business—that would have been too easy. Instead they resurrected an ancient art form, updated the style to appeal to the design crowd, and helped contribute to the antiwar movement in the process. And the rugs? Hands-down gorgeous. Peace Industry produces stunning felt rugs at a company-owned factory in Iran in accordance with rigid fair-trade standards. The latest batch of designs was created in collaboration with four artists and designers from across North America and can be seen—and felt, no pun intended—in the Mission district showroom.
Runner-up: Nomad Rugs

Hardware: Cliff’s Variety
479 Castro St., 415-431-5365
Where else can you buy copper wire, a Le Creuset pot, and a hula hoop? Oh, and also unicorn snot? Yes, we’re talking about Cliff’s. This tried-and-true five-and-dime, one of the oldest family-run businesses in the city (82 years and counting), can rekey the locks on your house, cut and finish glass to your specifications, thread pipe, and sharpen your knives. But it’s so much more than a top-notch hardware store: It also stocks party supplies, kids’ toys, and a timely selection of anti-Trump paraphernalia.
Runner-up: Discount Builders Supply and Hardware


Surf Shop: Mollusk Surf Shop
4500 Irving St., 415-564-6300
Never paddled out? Stood up? Caught a wave? No problem. You’ll find yourself in a surfer state of mind as soon as you walk into this beachy shop in the laid-back Outer Sunset. In addition to boards, wetsuits, and the accompanying surf-casual tees, hoodies, and shorts, Mollusk proudly reps the full spectrum of surf culture, exhibiting local art and playing host to movie nights, book signings, and even concerts.
Runner-up: Wise

Bookstore: Black Bird Bookstore
4033 Judah St., 628-256-0081
Have a specific book in mind that you want to crack open immediately? You know where to go. (No, not Amazon, you heretic, Green Apple!) But what if you have no idea what you want to read—you just know you want to read something good? Black Bird doesn’t boast stacks as much as slim shelves displaying a very edited, but very exceptional, selection. It’s the antidote to option overload, and it even has a succulent-studded back garden where you can take a seat and keep life delectably simple for just a few more hours. For a less peaceful, more high-energy experience, drop by for Saturday-morning story time—the store’s kids’ selection is wonderful as well.
Runner-up: Dog Eared Books

Bikes: Box Dog Bikes
494 14th St., 415-431-9627
This worker-owned cooperative is run by a crew of passionate bike experts who will happily tune up your ride, get you suited up with the latest gear, or fit you for a new frame. In addition to being committed to a host of volunteer and charitable causes (team members serve as “bike doctors” every year during Bike to Work Day and regularly donate parts to the Mission High School Bike Club), Box Dog hosts group camping trips to bikeable sites throughout the Bay Area.
Runner-up: Huckleberry Bicycles

Magazines: Heath Newsstand
2900 18th St., 415-873-9209
As if we needed another reason to hang around the sunny, welcoming warehouse that is the San Francisco home to Heath Ceramics, last year the brand unveiled Heath Newsstand. The selection of international design publications, food and lifestyle magazines, and daily newspapers from around the globe could fill a whole analog afternoon and then some. There’s also a sweet selection of classic candy, snacks, beverages, and stationery from small-batch printers.
Runner-up: Fog City News

Art Supplies: Artist & Craftsman Supply
555 Pacific Ave., 415-931-1900
For artists in need of top-quality tools, weekend crafters looking for inspiration, or singles burned out on trying to match with a sexy sculptor on Tinder, we suggest spending the afternoon wandering these art-filled aisles. Quirky “novelties” complement the stellar selection of professional art supplies—if you come for a paintbrush, be prepared to leave with a bagful of spyglasses, body glitter, and desktop drum sets. Click over to the store’s YouTube channel for highly addictive how-to videos featuring everything from woodblock printing to shibori dyeing.
Runner-up: Case for Making

E-Bikes: A New Wheel
420 Cortland Ave., 415-524-7362
The battery-powered transportation revolution is here. No, we aren’t talking about Teslas, Elon. We’re talking e-bikes—the two-wheeled answer to tackling those hills without breaking a sweat. If you haven’t taken one for a spin yet yourself, roll on over to this supercharged bike shop (there are no standard bikes here), where you can sample different brands and models and get advice from e-bike experts. It’s located at the very top of Bernal Heights, so a test ride through the surrounding streets will prove your potential bike’s true hill-conquering power.
Runner-up: Jump Bikes

Crystal/Tarot Shop: The Scarlet Sage Herb Co.
1193 Valencia St., 415-821-0997
If you’ve been to an art opening or a fashion event recently, you know that tarot readings are the party favor of the moment. It seems that New Age is new again, and that’s good news for this 23-year-old shop that has long specialized in herbs, crystals, spirit readings, and alternative remedies for both body and mind. Expectant mothers flock here for the pregnancy teas and sweet-smelling body butters, bodywork practitioners come for the extensive essential oil and herb selection, and modern hippies arrive seeking everything from Full Moon mist to tarot decks.
Runner-up: Crystal Way

Cannabis and Smoking Accessories: The Apothecarium
2029 Market St., 415-500-2620; 2414 Lombard St., 415-408-6986; 527 Howard St., 415-834-5225
Now that the pot prohibition era is officially over, dispensaries are stepping up their style game to stand out from the crowd. The Apothecarium’s classy digs, complete with crystal chandeliers, tartan-upholstered high-backed armchairs, and marble countertops, rival any wine country tasting room. The dispensary was also one of the first to get a recreational license, so now anyone over 21 is welcome to shop the buds, bowls, and vast variety of edibles, all bundled up in pretty packages.
Runner-up: Urban Pharm

Toys: Mapamundi Kids
1306 Castro St., 415-641-6192
This colorful shop is stocked with books, toys, clothes, and accessories for creative kids and their design-minded parents. Owner Lorena Siminovich is also the founder of the beloved Petit Collage toy brand, known for its minimalist puzzles, books, and mobiles. She’s got an eye for engaging items that spark kids’ imaginations and look lovely on any shelf.
Runner-up: Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids

Record Shop: 1-2-3-4 Go! Records
1038 Valencia St., 415-550-7865
If the rows upon rows of vinyl at a certain Haight Street institution make your head spin, head over to 1-2-3-4 Go!, where music fanatics have narrowed the selection down for you. You’ll find the newest releases from local indie bands like Shannon and the Clams as well as the full discographies of long-gone leaders of hardcore, post-­hardcore, and emo. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable— they’ll go deep on liner notes with fellow music nerds or happily curate a starter collection for a newbie.
Runner-up: Tunnel Records & Beach Goods


Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

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