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Snob shopping for the sharp-eyed masses

When trendy home furnishings retailer H.D. Buttercup held a grand opening for its first store north of Venice Boulevard, housed in the 30,000-square-foot SoMa storefront formerly occupied by Limn, the crowd lined up full of untamed, “let’s-see-what-you-got” attitude. What they got was a shock to the system: eclectic styles in sharp contrast to the mono West Elm or Pottery Barn look; high-quality pieces that would suit a Pac Heights mansion as easily as a Vermont farmhouse; bargains everywhere. Since that December day, these formerly jaded design shoppers’ enthusiasm hasn’t waned. That goes for savvy hunters like Vanita Louie, who went there looking for a French-inspired hutch and walked out with exactly what she wanted: “It was a third of the price of other things I saw at chain stores and didn’t love,” she says. “It’s affordable, it’s French, and it was in stock.” Go on Mondays, when the usual hubbub subsides. 290 Townsend St., S.F., 415-820-4788