Specialty Shops, San Francisco
Lush sells bath bombs, block soaps, shampoos, perfumes, made with natural ingredients (like bath bombs full of flower petals) and not tested on animals. I have been mail-ordering from them for awhile and I was excited to finally visit their store. The staff was really nice and threw in a free soap :)
What to buy: Lush has some really unique items like bubble bars (bubble bath in block form, just break off a piece and throw it in your bath), massage bars, and scented waters that are great to mist on your face on a hot day.
What to pay: $6-10 for blocks of soap, $5 for bath bombs, $15+ for bottles of shampoo or lotion. Pricy, but you can make them last a long time.
If you're looking for a unique piece of jewelry, you've come to the right place. Gallery of Jewels has semi-precious and costume jewelry by many Bay area (and other) designers. Prices are inexpensive to moderate for most pieces; the selection is huge.
This shop is PACKED with feather boas, stockings, sparkles, sunglasses, funky sequin outfits, wigs, costumes, etc. They had so many different kinds of stockings that they had them on hangers that lined an entire wall. You choose the design you want and they get you your size. It was a bit overwhelming after shopping all day.
What to buy: I was too overwhelmed to buy anything.
Really cool shop with lots of stuff. If you like Lip Service and Tripp clothing, this is the place for you. They also have independent label clothing for men and women.
What to buy: funky postcards,
denim skirt with red-stitched flames on the back pockets,
hand-crafted leather purse that looks like a vinyl record,
pink/black skull & crossbones wristband
What to pay: $106
This is a cool little accessory shop. They have funky shoes and stockings. Lots of different types of punk jewelry, some bondage stuff and a small selection of clothing for men & women.
What to buy: I bought a really funky pair of geometric patterned stockings and almost a pair of boots, but they didn't have my size. I also bought these really cool knee socks that are pink and have skulls on them.
What to pay: $28
The most recent outpost of Cowgirl Creamery is located in the newly-renovated Ferry Building. The store is bustling with activity as customers line up, particularly during the lunch hour. They are open seven days a week, and also ship cheeses. If you wish to sample any of their cheeses, they are most accommodating.
What to buy: Not only do they sell artisan cheeses (goat, cow, and sheep), but figs in Barolo, fig cake with almonds, Laguiole cheese knives, and honey, to name a few of their other offerings. Try the Humboldt Fog -- it's divine!
What to pay: Prices vary.
This tiny shop has the best selection of decorator and upholstery fabrics I've ever seen, plus natural-fiber material suitable for clothing. It's NOT cheap, and many of their fabrics require knowledgable handling -- this is not where you go to pick up a couple of yards of material for your kid's Halloween costume. But for many years (and they've been there 25 years or more) I've been purchasing half-yards for throw pillows and chair cushions, and I've always been pleased with the results.
In my humble opinion, this is THE best bookstore anywhere -- a terrific selection of new and used books, funky but friendly atmosphere, long hours, knowledgeable staff, and extremely cool customers (heh!).
The Ten Ren Tea shop is a little oasis for those walking through Chinatown. Stop in and order one of the magnificent teas or a different refreshing beverage.
They sell tea by the box or loose and also sell various tea related items. Take the time to try some tea before you buy it and smell the dried tea leaves.
What to buy: I love their green oolong tea although they sell a dozen or so various types of loose tea.
What to pay: Their teas are sold by grading (from 1 to 5). A grade 1 tea can cost as much as $120/lb!!! I stick with the grade 3 teas and spend around $17 for a quarter pound. Expensive, yes. But once you taste it, it is well worth it.
Britex Fabrics is a wonderful, large fabric store downtown, selling all manner of fabrics, buttons, trim, and related items for sewing and the like.
What to buy: Fabrics and related items.
New and used books, records and CDs as well as lots of local music and author events. Check the web site for details and dates---cool shop to visit if in Glen Park.
What to buy: books
What to pay: good prices