The Embarcadero Shops
1519 Grant Ave., North Beach
This homey shop has been taking up the same space in North Beach for 25 years, so it makes sense that owner Howard Gee has had plenty of time to figure out exactly what his clientele wants. And apparently, what they want is really great denim from established (APC, 3x1, Levi's Vintage Collection) and on-the-low (Matias, Rogue Territory brands, Ubi). It's also one of the few stores in the area catering to both men and women.
261 Columbus Ave., North Beach
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.
One Ferry Building, The Embarcadero
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.
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