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The Best Places to Shop in SF in 2017

The sharpest baby clothes, a pretense-free bike shop, at least one pterodactyl, and the rest of the best.


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Le Point

Photo: Max Gray/Le Point

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Mira Mira

Photo: Anna-Alexia Basile/Mira Mira

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St. Lightning

Photo: Senecca Dawn/St. Lightning

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Photo: Katie Newburn/March

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Rare Device

Photo: Dave Medal/Rare Device

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Dyami Serna/Isotope

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Read more Best of San Francisco 2017 here.


One-of-a-Kind Jewelry: Fiat Lux
3169 16th St. (near Guerrero St.), 415-748-2471
Owners Marie McCarthy and Alexei Angelides prove that beauty doesn’t have to be conventional at Fiat Lux, where the pair have assembled a collection of refined but gritty baubles. Some of their unorthodox finds include a golden skull lapel pin with opal teeth from Goldengrove ($138), a dangerous- but delicate-looking sterling silver Stingray Goddess necklace from Lauren Wolf ($600), and engagement rings made of conflict-free salt-and-pepper diamonds. Also available are an in-house brand, tomes about jewelry, and a few antique Masonic tools for your secret rituals.
Runner-up: Love & Luxe

Men’s Accessories: Welcome Stranger
460 Gough St. (near Ivy St.), 415-864-2079
Men’s stores often give just a passing glance at accessories: a few hats, socks, some ties if you’re lucky. Not here. This Hayes Valley men’s apparel emporium excels at wallets, sunglasses, jewelry, hats both baseball and beanie, watches, enamel pins, and key fobs. Peruse highly designed and functional Topo bags and leather belts from Portland-based Tanner Goods. You now have zero excuse for lack of flair.
Runner-up: Iron and Resin

Eyewear: Warby Parker
375 Hayes St. (near Gough St.), 415-906-5313
Complain all you like about how we’re all wearing the same nerdish specs: It’s because Warby Parker offers an unparalleled shopping experience. Like a poor-sighted kid in a candy store, you can try on a wide array of frames (starting at $95, including prescription), have a nice attendant measure your face, place your order, and get them in the mail within days. The Hayes Valley outpost is covered in murals by local design studio Lab Partners and offers a selection of reads from indie publishers.
Runner-up: Jins

Bags: Baggu
911 Valencia St. (near 20th St.), 800-605-0759
To hail the opening of its Valencia Street storefront, Baggu held a sample sale in November 2016. The line stretched down the block at 10 a.m., an hour when hipsters can’t even be bothered to brunch. That’s how strong the allegiance to Baggu’s collapsible shopping bags is. The sturdy ripstop nylon shoppers ($8 to $14) fold into tidy squares and come in cheerful colors and prints of things such as watermelons, cherries, and alpacas. The brand has since expanded to make non-collapsible backpacks, travel bags, and leather purses.
Runner-up: Cuyana

Pins: Oriental Art Gallery
1340 9th Ave. (near Irving St.), 415-681-6448
Do you need a pin in the shape of a stegosaurus, spaceman, or motor home? Cluttered in the best way, this store has a Goonies attic vibe. The main draw is a massive collection of vintage enamel pins, many for around $3. Enthusiastic proprietor Su Lee is not above a chuckle if you eventually pick out a bawdy or druggy bauble. Lee’s such a legend that she’s gone meta—a local artist recently immortalized her in pin form.
Runner-up: the Booksmith

Men’s Shoes: Gimme Shoes
416 Hayes St. (near Gough St.), 415-864-0691
With over 30 years in the city, this spot offers men’s shoes that are unrivaled in versatility. Dapper dressers will find upscale European brands like Officine Creative and Del Carlo—handmade leather lines from Italy—alongside staples like Paul Smith and John Varvatos. The store also stocks work-wear classics Red Wing and Timberland, Yuketen sandals, and Adidas. Those on a budget shop twice-annual end-of-season sales during which prices drop by up to 60 percent.
Runner-up: the Alden Shop

Women’s Shoes: Freda Salvador
2416 Fillmore St. (near Washington St.), 415-872-9690
Wander into this cozy store, with its overlapping rugs and plush throws, and you may be handed some complimentary caffeine to fuel browsing of sleek white mules, embossed golden ankle boots, and handwoven oxfords. Designed in Sausalito by cofounders Megan Papay and Cristina Palomo-Nelson, these city-walkable but stylish shoes are handmade in Spain with leather sourced from (mostly) Italy. The bulk of the line clocks in between $200 and $600, with some price points falling above and below.
Runner-up: Lexington Standard

Personalized Skincare: Ayla
1825 Bush St. (near Octavia St.), 415-520-7320
Trust Dara Kennedy, who brings serious beauty-industry know-how (she’s worked at Elizabeth Arden and Living Proof), to expertly stock her beauty boutique. Having launched online, she’s helmed her own store since 2013, focusing on personalized skin programs and nontoxic brands such as the Organic Pharmacy, Olio E Osso, and Ursa Major. She trots the globe to discover gems like MyHavtorn, produced by a Swedish couple on their farm. Customers can answer an online questionnaire to receive a tailored box of samples for $32.
Runner-up: the Face Shop

Makeup: The Balm Cosmetics
788 Valencia St. (near 19th St.), 415-817-1800
Makeovers are great, but trying to re-create them is not always simple. The Balm—known for multitasking products in retro packaging such as the Nude Dude eye shadow palette ($36) and Pickup Liners lip liner ($17.50)—tackles this problem by providing a free video of your makeup application, which you can then access privately on its website. You can try products in the store and partake of beauty services such as eyebrow waxing ($18).
Runner-up: Sephora

Perfume: Tigerlily
973 Valencia St. (near 21st St.), 415-896-4665
This is not your department store perfume counter. Devoted to non-conglomerate brands, the shop carries over 50 independent labels, including a long roster of California and San Francisco lines such as Yosh, Ineke, and Bruno Fazzolari. Also available are far-flung offerings such as Auphorie from Malaysia and Swiss Vault by Zurich’s renowned perfumer Andy Tauer, of which the shop is the only stateside stockist. The store also holds perfume workshops and hosts trunk shows, lectures, and indie showcases.
Runner-up: Le Labo


Menswear: Unionmade
493 Sanchez St. (near 18th St.), 415-861-3373
Picture a design-conscious lumberjack with a Mac and you’ve got the sensibility of this outfitter. Unionmade is for the ruggedly pulled-together. It carries American brands (including every iteration of Levi’s 501s), hard-to-find European and Japanese labels such as TS(S), and others with a long history, like Alden shoes, a Massachusetts company founded in 1884.
Runner-up: Maas & Stacks

Designer Boutique: Le Point
301 Valencia St. (near 14th St.), 415-400-4275
Pauline Montupet stocks her light-filled store like a stylist because she is one—with years of editorial and advertising experience. The boutique is home to international selections of emerging and contemporary women’s and men’s clothing, including labels such as Tibi, Creatures of Comfort, Token Surf, and You Must Create. Pared-down choices stay fresh because she cycles in new finds every two weeks.
Runner-up: Legion

Basics: Alternative
424 Hayes St. (near Gough St.), 415-400-5011
In a city serious about being casual, Alternative’s relaxed garb—made from soft materials such as pima cotton and jersey—fits right in. Basic crew T-shirts ($18 to $24), sweatshirts ($31 to $88), and pants ($38 to $78) in a mostly monochromatic palette fill out the line, but it’s the interesting cuts, such as swingy open-backed women’s tees and sleeveless men’s hoodies, that elevate the brand above big-box basics.
Runner-up: Modern Citizen

Outerwear: Aether
489 Hayes St. (near Octavia St.), 415-437-2345
The shipping-container facade of this store reflects what lies within: sturdy outerwear with sleek lines. Made with high-tech fabrics, these jackets are for outdoorsy city dwellers. Think polished but functional, like the high-necked women’s Arden jacket ($250), made of waxed cotton, or the Badlands motorcycle jacket for men ($895), with perforated panels for ventilation—perfect for rides the shop organizes to spots like Paso Robles and the Russian River.
Runner-up: REI

Vintage Clothes: ReLove
1815 Polk St. (near Washington St.), 415-800-8285
The store dog here, Amanda, is an unusual mix: half pit bull, half Chihuahua. The items for sale are impressively varied, too. You might find strappy Prada platforms ($95), a polka-dot Marimekko sundress ($62), or a vintage David Bowie tee ($57) in addition to funky circa-1990s apparel and items from Isabel Marant and Comme des Garçons.
Runner-up: Painted Bird

Women’s Wear: Mira Mira
3292 22nd St. (near Valencia St.), 415-648-6513
Mira Pickett is a real San Francisco story. She was a software engineer, then a VP, and now owns a sunny Mission boutique. Her shop specializes in rainbow-colored but still chic items from lines like Ace & Jig and Mara Hoffman. Pickett and her team offer lots of personal attention, and after picking out the perfect Dolores Park dress, you may get to hang around for a political letter-writing party, something they instituted after the 2016 election.
Runner-up: Mill Mercantile

Baby Clothes: Fiddlesticks
540 Hayes St. (near Octavia St.), 415-565-0508
Baby Gap this isn’t—unless that milquetoast temple now carries drop-crotch pants for boys or winged metallic sandals for girls. The store is filled with offbeat prints of things like cacti, pigeons, and sticks of dynamite. Kids congregate at play tables while grown-ups shop, and staff have been known to text images to remote shoppers desperate to gift a romper that says, “I’m your cool uncle.”
Runner-up: Aldea Home + Baby

Costumes: Costumes on Haight
735 Haight St. (near Pierce St.), 415-621-1356

Whether you need a Bay to Breakers outfit that might wind up discarded in the Panhandle or an elaborate Mad Hatter ensemble, this is the place. The store beckons with its elaborate window display and holds attention with a dizzying array of masks, wigs, and accoutrements. Vegetarians can grab a bunny in a bag ($8), carnivores a detailed T. rex getup ($80). There are also elaborate costumes available for rent. No bored party-store teenagers here: The staff will help you find the perfect outfit for your sister’s Victorian-themed vow renewals.
Runner-up: A.C.T. Costume Rentals

New Jeans: AB Fits
1519 Grant Ave. (near Union St.), 415-982-5726
Howard Gee knows jeans: He opened his high-end North Beach denim shop over two decades ago. He eschews department store brands for sturdier offerings including Raleigh Denim, vintage-style Levi’s 501s, Bridge & Burn, and Cotton Citizen. The store also does repairs, hemming, and—more recently—tapering, for folks who want their jeans just a bit more fitted.
Runner-up: Denim & Soul

Eco-Fashion: Marine Layer
498 Hayes St. (near Octavia St.), 415-829-7519
Who would have guessed wearing a tree could be so comfy? Homegrown label Marine Layer has built a brand around softness, particularly its Signature tees ($39), made from the pulp of sustainably harvested beech trees. It also uses responsibly farmed trees for its catalogs and donates unused fabric. No longer limited just to T-shirts, the brand now includes dresses, denim jackets, and even reversible swimwear. The adventurous can try their luck at the Mystery Tee vending machine—for $20, you pick a size, push a button, and get served a wearable surprise.
Runner-up: Amour Vert

Vintage Jeans: St. Lightning
1813 Polk St. (near Washington St.), 415-400-4579
You could hardly find a more rigorously assembled collection of vintage Levi’s than St. Lightning’s. Owners Jenni Witt and Sita Lindner started out stocking the store with her own thrifted collection (gone in a couple weeks) and now acquires vintage dungarees from many sources, including estate sales and flea markets. (She’s learned to thrift near places that have rodeos, like Reno.) The store typically has around 100 pairs of 501s, 517s, and 505s, and sometimes 512s or 550s (a women’s iteration she calls “foxy mom jeans”). Most are priced at $89.
Runner-up: No. 


Garden Supplies: Sloat Garden Center
2700 Sloat Blvd. (near 45th Ave.), 415-566-4415
San Francisco’s microclimates can be tough on a plant. That’s why the location of this green mecca—the damp and foggy Sunset—makes it the perfect place to pick one up, along with advice on keeping it alive. Emphasis is on care requirements and environment, with plants organized in categories such as low-light, full-sun, and air-cleaning. With a large outdoor area and benches, it’s not a bad place to pass a Sunday afternoon, either.
Runner-up: Flora Grubb

Sustainable Home Goods: Urban Hardwood
434 Post St. (near Powell St.), 415-397-9663
For those who like to bring a bit of the outdoors inside, this shop (the only showroom besides the Seattle flagship) sells furnishings made from salvaged wood—trees that have died before being harvested. Handmade slab furniture, benches, and tables are all made from Pacific Northwest walnut, maple, and redwood, sourced mostly from Washington. Intended to last a few lifetimes, they’re priced accordingly—a table for four can cost $4,000 to $7,000.
Runner-up: William the Beekeeper

New Furniture: Dzine
128 Utah St. (near Alameda St.), 415-674-9430
Bleeding-edge European furniture makers (with some stateside and local labels mixed in) dominate this Design District space. Many lines are family owned and, with a few exceptions, manufactured in Italy. Notable brands include sleek Boffi kitchen and wardrobe systems, unusual leather furnishings from Baxter, and colorful outdoor furniture from Paola Lenti. This is a one-stop shop for high-end interiors, including lighting and art: The store’s walls function as a gallery for Bay Area artists.
Runner-up: Zinc Details

Home Decor: The Future Perfect
3085 Sacramento St. (near Baker St.), 415-932-6508
Eclectically stocked, this Williamsburg/Manhattan–born shop features unexpected furnishings and a highly curated decor program. There’s Lindsey Adelman’s sculptural lighting, bright and modern glass objets d’art from John Hogan, and Eric Roinestad’s quintessentially Californian ceramics. For the walls there are gallery-worthy wallpapers and mirrors, like Ben and Aja Blanc’s creations, which feature fringes of wool, silk, and mohair.
Runner-up: Anyon Atelier

Art Prints: 3 Fish Studios
4541 Irving St. (near 47th Ave.), 415-242-3474
You’ve probably seen Annie Galvin and Eric Rewitzer’s work before, even if you couldn’t Name That Artist. Galvin is famous for her spin on California iconography, like takes on Rex May’s 1955 “49 Mile Scenic Drive” sign—the one with the seagull on a sky-blue background. Rewitzer also makes homages to the Bay Area, such as a dramatic linocut of Godzilla zapping the Transamerica Pyramid. They sell their artwork out of a spacious Outer Sunset studio, where you can pick up a reproduction for as little as $25.
Runner-up: the Aesthetic Union

Candles: ZGO
600 Castro St. (near 19th St.), 415-692-6511
Step into this fragrant store and you’re enveloped by a volley of interesting scents, quirky wallpaper, and shelves of delicate things to investigate. This perfume and candle center carries something for every nose and budget: You can make your home smell like Santiago Huckleberry with a $10 Voluspa candle or opt for a $300 Fornasetti candle in a ceramic vessel emblazoned with pop-culturally tweaked lithographic imagery. Other brands include Diptyque, Skandinavisk, Votivo, and K. Hall. 
Runner-up: Foggy Notion

Vintage Furniture: Stuff
150 Valencia St. (near Duboce Ave.), 415-864-2900
Be prepared to sacrifice a couple hours to this wonderland of mid-century vintage and a bit of everything else. With two floors and over 70 sellers, you can find a pastel rotary phone ($52) and an Arne Vodder desk ($1,295) mixed in among records, costume jewelry, and dishware. Schedule some time and open yourself up to the possibility that you might need an iron pterodactyl objet d’art ($195).
Runner-up: DeAnglis

Gifts: Rare Device
600 Divisadero St. (near Hayes St.), 415-863-3969

Treats abound at this colorful shop. There are bike repair kits and pocketknives, jewelry, Bee House ceramics (starting at $24), P.F. Candles (starting at $18), and a selection of pencils and pens that includes cult favorites such as the Blackwing. A nook in the back contains children’s toys, books, and clothes. The store also sells a solid collection of cards and offers gift wrapping, leaving no excuse to skimp on presentation.
Runner-up: Gravel & Gold

Tableware: March
3075 Sacramento St. (near Baker St.), 415-931-7433
This pristine Pacific Heights outpost specializes in elegant but unfussy kitchenware, including bronze and sterling hand-forged flatware from Ann Ladson (starting at $1,100), Boxwood table linens (starting at $35), and Italian “splatterware”—which has the rustic look of enamel camping plates but is made of glazed earthenware, not metal (starting at $34). For cooks, there are Attiva casserole dishes ($380 to $490) and an in-house pantry line that includes oil, vinegar, and spices.
Runner-up: Heath Ceramics

Discount Store: Ichibahn Kan
22 Peace Plz. (near Post St.), Ste. 540, 415-409-0472
Tucked inside the Japan Center Malls, this discount store (many offerings are just a little more than a dollar) is a temple to cute. Why buy regular Post-its when you can buy Post-its shaped like smiling kitties? Stickers, notebooks, and erasers are a strong draw, but you’ll also find skincare and housewares in playful iterations. Try to resist the selection of snacks on the way to the registers, including a wide array of Pocky flavors.
Runner-up: Daiso Japan

Stationery: Lavish
508 Hayes St. (near Octavia St.), 415-829-2941
Birthdays, new babies, holidays—Lavish has all your celebratory bases covered. A wall of design-forward cards (most for around $5) spills over to a rack, and it always has robust seasonal offerings. The store carries several local brands, such as letterpress wizards Papa Llama and the playful Yellow Owl Workshop, and is also home to a Rifle Paper Co. station that carries cards, prints, notepads, and wrapping paper from the popular, floral-obsessed Florida brand.
Runner-up: Bell’occhio

Frames: Frame
1926 Lombard St. (near Buchanan St.), 415-563-1700
Doug Cawley has been in the frame business for more than three decades, and his Lombard store stretches fine art canvases, builds shadow boxes, and provides display solutions for everything from diplomas to sports memorabilia. The bulk of his business is custom framing (most projects cost $250 to $500), and he strives to stock interesting offerings, such as Atomic’s industrial, welded metal fare and USA Salvage’s repurposed barn wood frames.
Runner-up: Artisans of San Francisco

Flowers: Ampersand
80 Albion St. (near Guerrero St.), 415-654-0776
What’s not to love about a gorgeous flower shop with an egalitarian attitude? (It calls its modern-rustic vibe “barn and mortar.”) While Ampersand offers restaurant and office subscriptions, wedding arrangements, and same-day deliveries, it also sells each flower by the stem and will pull together bouquets for any budget. Most buds are California grown, but the crew here will source from farther afield to bring in something weird and cool.
Runner-up: Mission de Flores


Newsstand: Fog City News
455 Market St. (near 1st St.), Ste. 125, 415-543-7400
Adam Smith strove to create what he calls an “elegantly old-fashioned” atmosphere at his newsstand, which he accomplished with chandeliers, carpeting, and distressed yellow paint. Smith’s paean to print carries thousands of publications, including more than 700 foreign titles. A sampling of wares includes esoteric food, design, and fashion publications, British rock magazines, and a plethora of cat titles. The store also stocks more than 200 kinds of chocolate bars, plus Maltesers and Aero candies for Anglophiles.
Runner-up: Juicy News SF

Books: Alley Cat Books
3036 24th St. (near Treat Ave.), 415-824-1761
This highly browsable store stocks new and used books, including bestsellers and up-and-coming local authors such as Lauren Levin and Tongo Eisen-Martin. Need a break from the page? The shop hosts book clubs, art classes, and, at least once, a Trumpian aerobics class in which participants pantomimed the president’s most common physical tics. Not sad! 
Runner-up: City Lights

Art Supply: Artist & Craftsman Supply
555 Pacific Ave. (near Montgomery St.), 415-931-1900
With two large floors of supplies, this store caters to every kind of artist. Painters, knitters, ceramicists, calligraphers, and crayon doodlers will be satisfied by myriad rows of materials. There are even toys, stickers, and masks for good measure. It offers a 10 percent student discount and hosts some classes, including a monthly figure-drawing session with a live model.
Runner-up: Flax

Surf Shop: Mollusk
4500 Irving St. (near 46th Ave.), 415-564-6300
This spot feels like a kid’s clubhouse—with a diminutive boat parked on the showroom floor and a submarine-like loft accessible via a winding staircase. Home to a casually cool eponymous clothing line (designed just up the street), the shop is attuned to the needs of both those who like to look beachy and those who actually have sand in their shoes. The store sells skateboards, wetsuits, wax, and a selection of unique surfboards made by respected shapers such as Gary Hanel.
Runner-up: Aqua Surf Shop

Camping Gear: Alite Outpost
3376 18th St. (near Capp St.), 415-626-1526
This designed–in–San Francisco line specializes in playful, easy-to-use goods such as pop-up tents ($120), sleeping bags with armholes and legs ($169), and collapsible chairs in bold colors ($100). For those who need a little help, the store keeps nine “camping kits” on hand from May through October. Stocked with tents, sleeping bags, and other necessities, they’re free to use, with a refundable $40 deposit.
Runner-up: REI

Comics: Isotope
326 Fell St. (near Gough St.), 415-621-6543
Forget the stereotype of the grumpy, elitist comic shop proprietor. James Sime (who co-owns the store with Kirsten Baldock) says the whole reason Isotope exists is to “find little treasures I can put in people’s hands.” Isotope is a laser-focused store that stocks comics, graphic novels, and mini-comics; no toys, stickers, or T-shirts here. Dubbed a “lounge,” the store encourages hanging out. Make sure to look up, where you can see the Comic Rockstars Toilet Seat Museum—a collection of, well, toilet seats, decorated by comics luminaries such as Brian K. Vaughan (Paper Girls, Saga), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), and Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim).
Runner-up: Comix Experience

Board Games: Gamescape
333 Divisadero St. (near Oak St.), 415-621-4263
Offering diversions that do not require an in-app purchase, Game-scape is a welcome respite from electronic entertainment. The shop has everything from Bananagrams to role-playing games, jigsaw puzzles, and backgammon sets—you can even find a multi-platform chess set modeled after the ones on Star Trek. If you’re looking for a match, check out an item from the game library for Monday-night “open play,” or attend one of several weekly themed gaming nights, including Pokémon, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic: The Gathering.
Runner-up: Versus Games

Hardware Store: Cliff’s Variety
479 Castro St. (near 18th St.), 415-431-5365
Few are the places where you can get most of your household needs met and have some campy fun while you’re at it. At Cliff’s Variety, you can buy hardware, browse Le Creuset, and purchase everything you need for a child’s birthday party—even if that child is turning 36. The main shop has the feel of a packed-to-the-ceiling general store (with more sparkle and style), while a next-door annex offers cute bathroom accessories, craft supplies, and—naturally—masks and sunglasses. At Christmas the store stocks oddball and traditional ornaments; come Halloween, (even more) costume gear.
Runner-up: Cole Hardware

Yarn: ImagiKnit
3897 18th St. (near Sanchez St.), 415-621-6642
With walls of yarn cubbies, plus buttons, notions, and books, ImagiKnit doesn’t skimp on choice. It carries yarn of all different weights and hues and a Noah’s ark of fibers including camel, yak, and llama. For the adventurous, staff curate mystery boxes (prices range from $27.99 to $55) in themes such as Cashmere Crazy and What’s New in Needles? Classes ($40 to $120) are offered on a regular basis, and the shop participates in several fiber-focused charitable efforts, such as Knitted Knockers—knit prosthetics for breast cancer survivors.
Runner-up: Atelier Yarns

Toys: Tantrum
248 Clement St. (near 4th Ave.), 415-831-4115
Amanda Weld (who co-owns this bubbly boutique with her husband, Richard) is a trained illustrator, which probably accounts for the store’s refined storybook-meets-mid-century sensibility. Tantrum specializes in toys that won’t depress parents when left out: classic Fisher-Price items like the Chatter Phone ($22), sweet plush mice from the Danish company Maileg ($20 to $26), and gently glowing duck- and rabbit-shaped lamps from the German company Heico ($68 to $76). Weld also stocks locally made hula hoops, wooden Brio pull toys, and (of course) picture books.
Runner-up: Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids

Smoking Accessories: The Apothecarium
2029 Market St. (at Dolores St.), 415-500-2620
Named one of the best-designed dispensaries in the country by Architectural Digest, the Apothecarium isn’t going to let you go home with a cheesy piece. Shop here for design-conscious wares like Miwak Junior pipes ($80), which resemble river stones; mid-century-style bongs from Summerland ($175); and Haciendaware’s ombré pipes ($90). Many offerings are ceramic, but the store also carries glass lines such as the minimalist Brothership (starting at $100) and the sleek Jane West Collection ($215) by scientific glass manufacturer Grav Labs.
Runner-up: Medithrive

Running-Shoe Store: A Runner’s Mind
3575 Sacramento St. (near Locust St.), 415-800-7575
All good running-shoe stores are staffed with fitters who assess your gait with a jog across the carpet. At A Runner’s Mind, the fitter takes you outside and films your jaunt down the block with an iPad. After analyzing the video in slo-mo, your guide recommends the right fit—then checks that advice with another round on the iPad. Staffers go through a month of training before they begin helping customers; the videography helps them avoid overcorrecting. After all, what runner wants to be weighed down by a heavier-than-necessary shoe? 
Runner-up: On the Run

Pet Store: Black Nose Trading Company
342 Divisadero St. (near Oak St.), 415-503-1004
Walt Bell is a dog owner who wouldn’t stock anything he wouldn’t use with his own pets. (His chow-Lab mix Gretchen is a “cute little ginger.”) For instance, he eschews retractable leashes (doesn’t like them) and certain harnesses that he doesn’t think are safe. Among the brands he does carry are several local ones, including For Your Dog Only pet beds, made in Berkeley, and Dog Patch SF leashes, made in San Francisco from recycled climbing rope. Bell also stocks a comprehensive selection of premium pet foods, such as Taste of the Wild and Natural Balance, and offers dog walking and day care.
Runner-up: the Animal House

Records: Originals Vinyl
701 Fillmore St. (at Hayes St.), 415-660-8779
Everyone knows Amoeba is a great record store. But as a new wave of small local vinyl shops will attest, you can still be a contender even if your sales floor isn’t a former bowling alley. Originals Vinyl, recently relocated to the fertile digging grounds of the Lower Haight, is our current favorite, offering up an eclectic selection (although jazz is a particular strength) and regularly refreshed new arrivals. You can also find some sweet deals in the lower bins: On a recent trip, a scuffed-looking but perfectly playable original copy of Miles Davis’s Live-Evil ran us all of five bucks. And for $2.50 a pop, you can bring in your crustiest records for an ultrasonic cleaning that’ll really make them sing.
Runner-up: Amoeba Music

Bikes: Huckleberry
1073 Market St. (near 7th St.), 415-484-6575
It’s no secret bicycle shops can come with an attitude. And for the uninitiated, trying to buy something they don’t normally buy while bumping up against cliquey culture can be fraught. But that’s exactly the environment the owners of Huckleberry Bikes want to avoid. When hiring, they place as much of a premium on non-snootiness as on mechanical know-how. Located on the bike thoroughfare that is Market Street, Huckleberry specializes in commuters. You’ll find folding bikes from Brompton and a robust selection of electric bikes that includes Stromer and Faraday. The shop also caters to the cyclo-cross scene and touring cyclists. A bike check-over runs $30; a complete tune-up is $95.
Runner-up: Valencia Cyclery 


Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

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