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10 Shops for Unique Gifts in the San Francisco Bay Area

10 Shops for Unique Gifts in the San Francisco Bay Area

At these highly original Northern California stores, the hunt for the perfect present is half of the fun

Posted 4 years agoby Jessica Sebor

The San Francisco Bay Area, often cited as the birthplace of the maker movement, is home to some of the most dreamily beautiful stores in the world. From custom-made clogs to hand-fired ceramics, you can find passionate artisans creating one-of-a-kind pieces all across San Francisco and the surrounding cities. According to Erica Chan Coffman, Oakland resident and creator of the lifestyle blog Honestly WTF, “There are so many designers based here… it’s a really exciting time for the Bay Area when it comes to style.”

Shopping for gorgeous goods is a delightful pursuit any of year, but the holidays provide the perfect excuse to browse. This season, explore the Bay Area’s shopping hot spots and hidden gems—as recommended by Coffman on a recent episode of the California Now Podcast—to find well-made gifts your loved ones didn’t know they needed.

1. Bryr Studio

What you’ll find: the perfect clog

Located in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, this little shop, run by designer Isobel Schofield, specializes in Linden wood clogs. Coffman explains that you choose the exact size, leather, and style you’d like—and in a few weeks, your new favorite “insanely comfortable” shoe will be ready to wear.

2. Heath Ceramics

What you’ll find: heirloom-worthy dishware

On the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge sits the artist colony of Sausalito, home of Heath Ceramics, a mecca for lovers of kitchen décor. Hand-crafted with a classic, mid-century aesthetic, Heath sells timeless pieces, perfect for anyone on your list. The brand has two additional shops in San Francisco proper as well.

3. Freda Salvador

What you’ll find: thoroughly San Francisco footwear

According to Coffman, Freda Salvador, founded by friends Cristina Palomo-Nelson and Megan Papay, is partially responsible for “putting San Francisco on the fashion and style map.” With a mix of masculine and feminine aesthetics, this shop offers beautiful footwear with a “cult following.”

4. Métier

What you’ll find: antique-meets-modern jewelry

This tiny Hayes Valley shop feels, appropriately, like walking into a precious jewel box. Search for the perfect piece among a mix of Old-World jewelry alongside sleek items from contemporary designers.

5. Tail of the Yak

What you’ll find: international treasures

“You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairyland,” Coffman says of her “favorite store in the world.” This Berkeley institution sells highly-curated handmade items like vintage Oaxacan blouses and jeweled patches from India crowded around a cage of two live doves.

6. The Cushion Shop

What you’ll find: you guessed it…

Stuffed to the rafters with colorful throw pillows, this little Marin County shop is as cozy as it gets. Visit the Larkspur store to come home with a completely custom-cushion made from the very best artisanal fabric.

7. Crimson Horticultural Rarities

What you’ll find: a plant lady’s dreamworld

Oakland’s Temescal Alleys are filed with sweet little shops occupying the former stables of the city’s trolley horses. Coffman recommends stopping in Crimson to search through succulents, candles, and more. “It's where I go to buy gifts,” she says.

8. Mudpie

What you’ll find: super-chic children’s clothes

Founded in 1976, Mudpie has been bringing European-style children’s clothes to San Francisco’s Fillmore District for more than 40 years. Explore the store to find adorable toys, blankets, and more for stylish tots.

9. Atomic Garden

What you’ll find: potions fit for a good witch

Part home goods store, part apothecary, Atomic Garden in Oakland focuses on sustainable, organic, high-quality goods. Beautifully packaged essential oils and sprays sit begging to be stuffed in a girlfriend’s stocking.