Where to Find the Chicest Gifts in San Francisco
In a world where convenience is king and spare time seems about as scarce as rain in California, many of life’s simple pleasures, and social graces, are on the brink of extinction. Case in point: the art of gift giving. The once gratifying process of finding the perfect, heartfelt token for a loved one is now often reduced to picking up a gift card in the impulse section of your local grocery store—next to chewing gum and batteries. The 2016 version of the old adage, “a gift from the heart” might as well be replaced by the more flippant (and more accurate), “a gift I picked up on the way to your party, LOL.” But in San Francisco, a city where even the cracks in the sidewalk tell a story, it’s no surprise that there’s a thriving community of artists, visionaries and makers opening shops bursting with carefully curated finds that are perfect for gifting—and keeping.
You can’t leave town without hitting up these shops and filling extra space in your suitcase with thoughtful pieces for everyone on your list. Whether you’re on the hunt for handmade paper goods for your bestie, fine cured meats for your dad, or gorgeous, locally crafted ceramics for your favorite bride-to-be, these four stops are filled with great goods for even your hardest to shop for pals. The loot you’ll find will no doubt be as unforgettable as the city it hails from.
Situated along the Embarcadero, the Ferry Building is a bustling hub for merchants of everything from farm fresh produce to high-end kitchen goods. You’ll find tons of local vendors such as Blue Bottle Coffee, Cowgirl Creamery cheese shop and Heath Ceramics pottery, just to name a few. Pro tip: The Ferry Building is an actual transit hub. You can easily kill two birds with one stone and take the ferry across the Bay to the Marin Country Mart, which is also filled with tons of high-end shopping and dining options.
1 Ferry Building; 415-983-8030; ferrybuildingmarketplace.com
This whimsical gift shop houses a diverse collection of handmade items from local and international makers alike. You’ll find unique beauty products like Animus Perfume from San Francisco’s vegan perfumery L'Aromatica, in addition to an array of beautiful and useful pieces for yourself, your friends and your space. Be sure to stop by the gallery within its Diversidero storefront for monthly art shows and community events that often showcase up-and-coming artists.
2 locations in San Francisco; raredevice.net
Ferme à Papier
Located just a few blocks from San Fran’s famed Lombard Street (aptly dubbed “the crookedest street in the world”), and next door to Parlor Mini Spa, this Russian Hill shop is the quintessential French-inspired stationer. It touts a hefty assortment of paper goods, all hand illustrated by artist and founder, Cat Seto. In addition to the fan favorite greeting cards and wrapping paper, you’ll find a highly curated selection of clothing, candles, jewelry and other bespoke goods by independent designers. On any given day, you can find the Ferme crew plugging away designing, assembling and packaging the beloved goods in the production space, tucked into the back of the store.
2406 Polk St.; 415-749-1988; fermeapapier.com
Dogtown meets casual-cool in this Outer Sunset storefront. Husband-and-wife duo Serena Mitnik-Miller and Mason St. Peter opened the first of two General Store locations (the second outpost is in Los Angeles) in 2009 with thoughtful, functional design in mind. You’ll find staples like Big Sur Country Soap and Earth Tu Face apothecary products, in addition to everything you’ll need to step up your home décor game (we’re looking at you, Heather Levine wall hangings!). Fun fact: that archway in the middle of the store looks extra round, because it is. It was actually inspired by a skate-ramp and St. Peter’s love of skateboarding and surfing. It just doesn’t get more California-cool than that, folks.
4035 Judah Street; 415-682-0600; shop-generalstore.com