Where to Shop Small in San Francisco
From retail to record stores to home goods, there are plenty of SF spots that deserve your support on Small Business Saturday and all year long.
We have some feelings about seemingly made-up holidays (looking at you, International Avocado Toast Day, or whatever), but one we are very on board with is Small Business Saturday, which encourages us all to support the local, independent businesses in our city (instead of, say, blowing dollars at a world-dominating online behemoth). San Francisco, being a city filled to the brim with stunningly creative folks, is a most excellent place to support a small business, particularly if you have holiday gifting on the mind (yes, gifting yourself is absolutely a thing). From NoPa to Chinatown, here are 15 of our go-tos for clothes, jewelry, records, plants, books, and more.
The biggest problem we have with General Store, a sun-filled oasis of lovely things out by Ocean Beach, is that we want pretty much everything they sell there. From leather goods and art books to unique jewelry and home goods, plus on-point, minimalist apparel and meticulously sourced vintage items, it’s all a good choice. At the very least, good luck not leaving with a scented candle that will both center your spirit and have you longing for a beach in Indonesia.
We’ve never met a record store we don’t like, but we love Tunnel Records, the self-described “Western-most record store in the world.” We don’t know about that, but their selection of new and used vinyl is tops, their recommendations are consistently on point, and they also have a great collection of vintage concert posters, cassette tapes, merch, and other ephemera. You can even buy a turntable if you’re looking to get started on your analog music journey.
Black Bird Bookstore
This sweet little bookstore by the beach has made a name for themselves by focusing on a carefully curated selection of books versus straight-up quantity, and we love them for it. Where else can you find hot new fiction hardcovers, beautiful chapbooks from local poets, a gorgeous array of cookbooks and DIY guides, plus a truly dreamy children’s section complete with a back garden? They have Four Barrel coffee and treats, too, should you want a caffeine and sugar rush to go along with your literary swoon.
Body Philosophy Club
A vintage shop that only sources clothes from within 50 miles of San Francisco, Body Philosophy Club is all about helping you find the pieces that will make you feel amazing. We also seriously appreciate that they prioritize natural fiber clothing… but that they make an exception for particularly standout polyester pieces (our ‘70s-loving hearts beat wildly at the thought). Sounds like the kind of club that we’re actually down to join.
A gift shop and screenprinting studio, Fleet Wood is our go-to for schwag with serious San Francisco pride—from sweet SF Giants baseball tees to Ocean Beach hoodies, we love showing love for our city with local goods. But that’s just the beginning. Fleet Wood should be your destination for all kinds of clever, irreverent apparel (a “Good Grammar is Sexy” t-shirt? Yes, please!), accessories, and other outside-the-box stocking stuffers. They do custom screen printing, too.
Soon & Soon Souvenir Shop
Not only are the good people at Mister Jiu’s really, really good at food, they’re also highly creative and whimsical designers. Check out their goods at Soon & Soon, a pocket-sized souvenir shop in Chinatown, where you’ll find apparel, bike and skate gear, stickers, and more, plus coffee and snacks. Shopping is always better when there are snacks.
This whimsical gift shop and gallery on Divisadero sparks joy pretty much the moment you enter — bright pops of color will draw your attention to a wonderfully curated selection of art prints, textiles, jewelry, stationary, and more. Even better, Rare Device hosts rotating art shows that feature independent creators, along with regular trunk shows and community events. For Small Business Saturday, if you spend $150 or more you get a gift, and any purchase will earn you a chance to win a Divisadero Merchant Mystery Bundle, a whole pile of gift cards from nearby businesses like Souvla, Gamescape, Loving Cup, and The Mill.
We could easily fill our shelves to the brim with the works that come from this woman-owned ceramic studio and shop in the Lower Haight, from stunning serving platters and candle holders to mugs that are just begging to be filled with coffee. They also have a lovely selection of apothecary goods, not to mention some seriously sweet Christmas tree ornaments.
Omnivore Books on Food
There’s always someone on your list who goes gooey at the prospect of a beautiful new cookbook (hi, it’s us). Omnivore is a veritable narnia for the culinarily inclined—the legendary bookstore is completely dedicated to cookbooks, books on food, and magazines. They have a jaw-dropping selection of vintage and antiquarian tomes, too, plus vintage menus. Keep an eye out for author events and more.
Gemini Bottle Co.
When in doubt, a bottle of something is almost always a good gift. Especially when that bottle is filled with unique natural wine, bracing mezcal, local whiskey, or far-flung amaro. Enter Gemini, one of our favorite bottle shops in the city, which we love for both their stellar selection and wonderful, knowledgeable team. They have gorgeous barware on offer, too, and a wine club. You know, if anyone needs hints on what to get you.
You may not think that going out for wine is a productive way to buy gifts, but you would be incorrect. Arcana, otherwise known as our dream come true, is a natural wine bar (with bites and live music) that’s also a bottle shop and also—wait for it—a plant shop! So go drink some delicious drinks and go home with a new plant baby for yourself or someone you know.
The Scarlet Sage Herb Co.
A go-to for holistic health for 25-plus years, Scarlet Sage is a must-visit for herbs and essential oils, plus crystals, tarot decks, talismans, and more. They’re also a home for various classes on herbalism and divination, and offer a bevy of tarot reading services, too.
You might think that you’re not that into taxidermy, but that’s probably because you haven’t been to Paxton Gate before. What started as a home for unusual gardening gear has become a full-blown house of beautiful oddities, from animal skulls and crystals to yes, taxidermy of all shapes and sizes, all of which is ethically sourced. If you have a love for and fascination with the natural world, we are confident that you will find yourself enchanted.
Clothes from Nooworks feel kind of like a fever dream—in a seriously amazing way. The woman-owned, women-run business partners with amazing artists to make limited-edition textiles, which come to life in the form of dresses, jumpsuits, bodysuits, jackets, and more, all of which are comfortable and designed to show off a wide range of shapes and sizes. So, if you like your garments to be rainbow-colored and/or feature flying tigers (yes and yes), this is, undoubtedly, the spot.