With the end of midterms and the beginning of the new season, Spring-cleaning can take on a whole new meaning. Getting out of Berkeley and roaming through the Mission District proved to be a unique experience as Catriona Lewis and I walked down what could have been a mall, a flea market, a bazaar or a gallery, all beautifully amalgamated into one afternoon’s stroll. Valencia St. is littered with cozy, little boutiques that feature one-of-a kind trinkets that can revamp your room’s decor. From minimalist designs to intricate vintage lace and florals, these knick-knacks introduce a fresh perspective to spring.
The boutiques and thrift stores weave in and out of each other throughout Valencia St. providing subtle glimpses into the chimeric hand of the work of San Francisco locals. With every item imaginable on a spring wish list made available, the assortment of shops invites conversation between collectors, artists, designers, or whoever you aspire to embody in your search for the ultimate Spring collection.
Here’s a little guide that Catriona and I put together to help navigate the myriad of shops on Valencia St:
Aggregate Supply: Embracing a Southwest desert vibe, Aggregate Supply sells a variety of jewelry from the more traditional looking silver with turquoise inlay statement necklaces to more modern stone and clay geometric necklaces. It also features beautiful desert tapestries and wall decor, vases, and potted succulents and cacti.
The Community Thrift Shop: Straying away from the curated flea market-ish boutiques we walked into The Community Thrift Store. Normally when I go thrifting I stick to buying men’s outerwear and graphic t-shirts, but this community thrift shop features a large home section with well-worn, yet beautiful antique furniture. I immediately fell in love with a set of blue wooden chairs. The thrift shop also featured a home-kitchen section, and if I had more space in my room I definitely would have purchased some of the old-fashioned glassware and adorable teacup sets.
As we stepped out of many of these thrift stores, which are in themselves sorts of pseudo flea markets, we happened upon dozens of legitimate flea market booths sprinkled throughout the district. The booths featured a variety of items for sale from old toys, knick-knacks, artwork and even clothing. The booths are sprinkled throughout the Mission District at the corner of almost every block showcasing budding artists and antique collectors, and they are an established aspect of the area—ironically one of the most sure things in the District despite their ephemeral nature.
Therapy: Representative of its name, this boutique featured a wide variety of minimalist decorations that could set a peaceful tone to welcome the new season. From candles to pillows, to miniature garden plants, the store set the tone for a fresh and clean-cut spring.
Serendipity & The Little Paper Plane Shop: These two stores further down on Valencia are as cute as their names. Serendipity is cradled at the corner of 19th and Valencia St., a couple shops down from Boba Guys if you need a little pick-me-up as you’re making your way down the district. The Little Paper Plane Shop featured jewelry by local artists featuring simple delicate pendant jewelry, with fine, geometric designs and neutral tone stone inlays. It proved to be the perfect gift shop selling everything from small trinket jewelry, coffee table books, nail polishes, natural beauty products, and even natural handcrafted chocolates all simply and beautifully packaged and designed. Serendipity also had plenty of candles, cards, hand painted silk scarves and decorative sheets, jewelry and art by San Francisco locals. And as sweet as both of the stores are, the prints on the cards and decorative items are bold and unapologetically liberal, classically Berkeley and SF, and reminiscent of The Sockshop on Telegraph Ave.
The Apartment: This sunny little store is brimming with vintage decor and furniture. The mismatched pieces range from furniture redolent of Victorian styles that are modernized with the muted, pastel colors and art by locals that juxtaposes the furniture with an abstract and grunge-y touch. A sign hanging behind the register reading, “This is NOT a museum, this junk is for sale,” wholly describes the feel of the shop. Walking into The Apartment was akin to walking into your grandparents’ storage garage. Bins of postcard and old photos scavenged by the owners fill boxes on one wall. The store is cluttered but in a homey way, as if every item has a story to tell.
Campfire Gallery: On our way to the 24th St. BART station we happened upon Campfire Gallery. A cute little gallery space featuring an exhibition titled “No Self” by local artists Eli Casiano and Colin Francigetto. Described as pop-surrealist the exhibition features canvas paintings that mirrored much of the mural street art we found throughout the Mission, with psychedelic colors and dreamlike images, transforming familiar shapes and objects into something alien. Read more about their artistic inspiration at http://www.campfiregallery.com/current-exhibition/. Campfire Gallery also features smaller artisan sculptures and jewelry from wood centerpieces, incandescent bulb sculptures, simple, geometric, fine jewelry, books, and the cutest owl candles you will ever see. It perfectly captures the vibrancy and beauty of San Francisco’s street art within the comfort of a gallery directly across the street from the 24th street Bart!
This alleyway, formerly known as “Cedar Lane” is ensconced in between four intersecting streets, however, it is far from being enveloped by the crowds rushing between Valencia St. and Mission St. This alleyway is an unexpected and remarkable addition to the District. It creates a space bursting with vibrancy and creativity that creates a safe haven that is interestingly distinctive yet still connected to the community amidst the clamor. The murals adorning the walls of the alley are striking in their ability to voice the beliefs of San Francisco’s artists. The artwork is singular in its ability to create a space that invites the entire community to participate in viewing the works and the voices of a select few group of individuals. What started out as a space for the Clairon Alley Mural Project evolved into space that eternalizes historic social issues from the city and allows new artists to preserve their own perspectives from the experiences of today.
We hope you check out all that the Mission has to offer and explore other SF neighborhood styles!
And if you’re in the mood to add to your wardrobe this season, check out the guide Catriona and I put together for all of the clothing stores on Valencia St.!