The Best Gift Shops
In the age of Amazon, it’s completely feasible to cross everyone off your list from the comfort of your desk. That said, so long as you don’t find yourself somewhere too overcrowded, there’s really nothing that inspires holiday spirit more than a day spent picking up special, unique pieces for loved ones in person. Here, our favorite shops for perusing with an armful of shopping bags in tow and Christmas music playing in the background (plus a few online favorites for emergencies).
Mudpie2185 Fillmore St., Pacific Heights | 415.771.9262
Specializing in gorgeous clothing and gifts for babies as well as beautiful accessories, toys, furniture, and make-believe items for kids, Mudpie makes every present feel special. It's bright space is classic and magical feeling, and they also do gorgeous gift-wrapping.
Metier546 Laguna St., Hayes Valley | 415.590.2998
This jewel box of a shop is loosely split into two sections: one dedicated to modern fine jewelry (Kathleen Whitaker, Gabriella Kiss, Arielle de Pinto, and much more) and the other houses a substantial estate selection. The focus here is on unusual, handcrafted one-of-a-kind pieces you wouldn't find anywhere else—specifically, the edit of non-traditional engagement rings and wedding bands is unlike anything we've ever seen. The store itself, though teeny, is so beautifully appointed and so well stocked that you'll need more time here than you might think to really take it all in.
Nest2300 Fillmore St., Pacific Heights | 415.292.6199
San Francisco's francophiles flock to this jam-packed yet tastefully merchandised home shop for everything from antique furniture, to hand-made quilts and silk bathrobes, to colorful Chinese lanterns, glassware, and kitchen accessories. Because of the range in price points, the complaint about this place seems to be that you can't walk out empty-handed.
The General Store4035 Judah St., Sunset District | 415.682.0600
There are two locations of this beloved shop, and the original is here. Set in a big, lofty space that could theoretically hold hundreds of items, the impeccably curated store is an exercise in restraint: You’ll find hand-made ceramics, brass trivets, thread-wrapped bows and arrows, and rare, vintage books. The second location is in Venice.
Heath CeramicsOne Ferry Building, The Embarcadero | 415.399.9284
A true mid-century American icon, Heath has been producing beautiful modern and minimal tableware (with a brief break) and tiles since 1948. In fact, it's part of the permanent collections in New York's MoMA—and graces many a table across the Los Angeles restaurant scape. The store, like the products, is modern and minimal, with wooden shelves, concrete floors and a lot of space to browse. Besides the Heath line, they've selected a handful of designers to showcase. There are multiple locations in the SF area, including a bigger showroom in the Mission and a factory store in Sausalito offering seconds (i.e., subtly imperfect plates and bowls) at big discounts.
Neighbor4200 Piedmont Ave., Oakland | 510.594.2288
A little bit fishing lodge, a little bit mountain ranger, this shop’s aesthetic is a modern take on cozy cabin décor. Carrying everything from Turkish towels to Ace & Jig quilts, to dreamcatchers, it’s fun for anyone with nostalgia for that summer cabin by the lake, whether real or fictional.
MARCH3075 Sacramento St., Pacific Heights | 415.931.7433
MARCH may just be the best kitchen and tabletop store in the country. (In fact, we love it so much, we collaborated with them and Alice Waters on a dinner to raise funds for The Edible Schoolyard.) No, this is not the place to buy a Kitchen Aid, or a Silpat, but instead to discover a beautiful, hand-made mortar and pestle, Michael Verheyden candlesticks, or Billy Cotton glass and dinnerware. We were overjoyed when they finally went online last year.
Bell’occhio10 Brady St., Hayes Valley | 415.864.4048
Bell’Occhio, with its French-y, almost fantastical vibe, looks like a shop you might have walked into, in say, 1895, on a hidden, cobbled street in Montparnasse, Paris. For over 26 years, the shop has enticed customers with antique ribbons and stationery, French sewing supplies, and elegant gift wrap, the gift wrapping services to go with, not to mention calligraphy services courtesy of a former White House calligrapher. And should you want an even bigger slice of the fantasy, they offer interior design services, too.
Mill Mercantile4035 18th St., Dolores Heights | 415.401.8920
Hands down one of our favorite shops to hit up when in San Francisco, Mill Mercantile is essentially Unionmade for chicks, meaning the vibe is timeless with a whiff of tomboy. It's set up like a mini department store with sections dedicated to shoes (Dieppa Restrepo brogues, classic New Balance), clothing (Apiece Apart, Gitman Brothers), plus home stuff and an impressive wellness corner (lots of Aesop, Arquiste fragrances). If you don't have a Bay Area trip planned in the near future, the online shop is the next best thing as it stocks the best of what's in store.
Reliquary544 Hayes St., Hayes Valley | 415.431.4000
This goldmine of a shop is the work of former Old Navy designer, Leah Bershad. The space is dimly lit much like a museum, which makes sense since the Southwestern-tinged biker rings, folksy wall hangings, and embroidered dresses from Mexico are essentially pieces of art. And it's not all vintage either, as Leah stocks contemporary items from Ace & Jig, Raleigh Denim, and Cinq Workshop, too.
The Future Perfect presidio3085 Sacramento St., Presidio | 415.932.6508
It's about time San Francisco got a proper high-end, design-centric furniture and décor store of its very own—granted, this one's an offshoot of a Brooklyn-born, NYC-based showroom, but still. The stuff here speaks to a clean, modern aesthetic, think: Roll & Hill's geometric lighting fixtures and gemstone-hued Arflex seating. Shopping here is not cheap (a box sofa we fell in love with rang in at a cool 8k), but thankfully you can set up gift and wedding registries.
Atomic Garden5453 College Ave., Oakland | 510.923.0543
This cute, artfully cluttered shop is one of those places where you go to buy one gift, and walk out with all sorts of treasures, whether it's a tiny baking set for kids, a silk-screened linen throw pillow, or beautiful brass hairpins.
The Perish Trust728 Divisadero St., Hayes Valley
There's something of a down-the-rabbit-hole effect when you walk into this magical antiques store. Everywhere you look you'll see collectible curiosities that owners Rod Hipsund and Kelly Ishikawa plucked from antique sales and vintage markets. Particularly impressive are the old-school typewriters and stacks of pre-owned books. Even the contemporary stuff, like the Bonny Doon hand balms and pottery, has a turn-of-the-century vibe.
Rare Device600 Divisadero St., Hayes Valley | 415.863.3969
Packed to the rafters with books, gifts, stationery, and things for the home from all over the world, Rare Device is a time suck, in the best possible way. There's also a gallery space in the back, home to monthly art shows, workshops, and kid-friendly events. There's also an outpost in Hayes Valley.
Birch SF| 415.626.6860
Torryne Choate is a truly talented designer. While she can take on any floral challenge you throw her way, she's especially skilled at handling those way-harder-than-they-look homogenous sculptural arrangements—not to mention crafting flower crowns that put your Pinterest to shame. For our San Francisco pop-up shop, we asked her to put together arrangements to complement the architectural space; needless to say, she didn't disappoint.
William Stout Architectural Books804 Montgomery St., Financial District | 415.391.6757
As the name suggests, the heart of this sprawling, two-story bookshop is architecture, with a vast selection of fine art, design, and décor titles thrown in for good measure. William Stout, who’s an architect by trade, began his vast collection 30 years ago and has since grown it to include close to 20,000 titles. In fact, we tapped him to curate a collection of books for our San Francisco goop MRKT, fittingly set up in the Frank Lloyd Wright building.
Hero Shop982 Post St., Tenderloin | 415.829.3129
The fashion crowd in SF was more than a little excited to find out that Emily Holt, formerly the long-time fashion news editor for Vogue, was bringing her exquisite taste back to her home city in the form of this adorable boutique. In addition to a great assortment of our favorite fashion brands (Paul Andrew Adam Lippes, Miriam Schaffer, and CVC Stones, to start), her shop also carries a great selection of books and greeting cards, plus ceramics and other artisan products from some local makers.
Topo Designs645 Divisadero St., Pacific Heights | 415.525.3749
Topo Designs is a Colorado-based company, and this shop is their first store outside the state. The outdoor brand is best known for their brightly colored packs for hiking, backpacking, bike commuting, or just bopping around town (they also make the best, most durable laptop sleeves), and for the fact that all of their products are made in the United States. In the shop, you'll find a full selection of their offerings, plus favorites from aligned brands like Zeal and Smith Optics, Ursa Major, Wigwam, and Hestra.
Topdrawer1840 Union St., Cow Hollow | 415.771.1108
This shop in Cow Hollow stocks all manner of Japanese specialty goods from slippers and brightly colored pens to bento boxes and washi tape. Prices are reasonable so it's great when you're picking up gifts for a big group.