The San Francisco Hipster Guide
While San Francisco is classic to its core, there’s a strong counter culture sensibility that’s always been an essential part of the city—these days, it can primarily be found in places like The Tenderloin, where great new spots are popping up every month.
Gravel & Gold3266 21st St., Mission | 415.552.0112
Dainty hand-beaded accessories by Salihah Moore, pottery by Patricia Yenawine, and Gravel & Gold's house line of print-centric separates make it kind of difficult to stick this eclectic little shop in any one category. Then there's the vintage décor and teeny indie apothecary section which also play to the greater theme: Everything is made by women, for women, right here in California.
Woodshop3725 Noriega St., Outer Sunset
This by-appointment-only workspace and showroom is like a playground for the grown-up surfer dude with scratch to spend. It's a collaborative effort between four artisans: one designs the reclaimed wooden furniture, one builds crazy cool-looking, high-performance surf boards, one specializes in re-making old chairs, and one is an artist and sign designer.
City Lights261 Columbus Ave., North Beach | 415.362.8193
This massive indie bookstore has been around since the '50s (when it served as a meeting spot for the literary-minded beatniks) and is now a bona fide San Francisco institution. Make sure to check the events calendar before your visit.
Esqueleto482 A 49th St., Oakland | 510.629.6216
Everything in Temescal Alley is great but this jewelry store is a definite highlight. It's beautifully merchandised with geodes, bones, stones, feathers, and plenty of other hippie paraphernalia (most of it is for sale). The actual jewelry—some vintage some contemporary—has a witchy, kind of dark-magic vibe to it.
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.
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.
Eden & Eden560 Jackson St., Financial District | 415.983.0490
This awesome shop is operated by a brother-and-sister duo, who do an excellent job of looking beyond the obvious outlets to stock the airy space. The assortment changes regularly, so while there's no predicting exactly what you might find during a visit, great vintage tees, sculptural jewelry, and clothing from under-the-radar European lines are all a sure thing. Most vintage display tables and scattered seating is for sale, so don't be afraid to ask for a quote if you like what you see.
Harputs109 Geary St., Financial District | 415.392.2222
Years ago, the original Harputs was actually a sneaker store. Now, it's a cool, off-beat clothing boutique downstairs and a workshop/design studio upstairs—Gus and Robin Harputs design, cut, and produce almost every beautifully draped, convertible piece on site. The collection isn't particularly huge (they supplement with a selection of Comme des Garcons, Martin Margiela, and Yohji), and if there's something you don't see, or have a tweak or two you'd like made to an existing piece, they'll gladly get the job done.
Temescal AlleyTemescal Alley, Oakland
We can easily write a love letter to each of the 18 local-owned specialty shops lining this adorable, strollable alley. Here you'll find a dreamy florist, an excellent book shop called Book Shop, a vintage store, a handful of galleries, our favorite jewelry store in the city (Esqueleto), a place that specializes in stuffed donuts, and so much more.
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.
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.
Le Point301 Valencia St., Mission | 415.400.4275
This welcome new addition to the San Francisco shopping landscape is the passion project of stylist Pauline Montupet. It's a truly unique concept int he area: The minimal, airy concept space is set up like an obsessively curated Pinterest board with whitewashed walls (and a stark floor to match), plywood fixtures, and pops of color courtesy of the merchandise, which ranges from Whyte to Tibi to Acrimony.
Modern Citizen2078 Union St., Cow Hollow
One of the most streamlined, considered stores we've come across: Modern Citizen stocks women's clothing, accessories and home goods, all at an accessible price point. The aesthetic is minimal, muted, and lends itself to the inventory and the store–we love the wear-with-everything palette of soft grays, olives, and sleek navy. Co-founded by Gap alum Jess Lee and Lizzie Agnew, this is the brand's first brick and mortar store. If you can't make it to SF, the majority of the collection is available online.
Voyager + Revolver136 Fillmore St., Hayes Valley | 415.871.0665
This beautiful store stocks a little bit of everything for men, women, and home—it's literally a one-stop-shop for things that are cool and globally sourced (hence the name). For the girls, there's cotton separates from Japan and slouchy knits from LA-based Shaina Mote, lots of heritage and street-wear brands for guys, and minimalistic wood and brass pieces for the home from under-the-radar designers like Futugami and Akarino Tane.
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.
Veer & Wander6 Brady St, Hayes Valley | 415.864.3012
We love how this streamlined boutique exudes the perfect mix of rockstar edginess and eco-consciousness–the latter being obvious on its shelves that are stocked with some of our favorite natural beauty brands including Vitner's Daughter, Rahua, and our very own goop by Juice Beauty. A full service salon anchors the space, where you can find some of the city's best colorists and stylists.
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.