Shop Local in San Francisco
Small boutiques, fragrant bakeries, serious bookstores, and flea markets make up only a tiny portion of the tempting shopping opportunities you can find on the streets of San Francisco. This city takes its local wares seriously!
2900 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
While Heath Ceramics is over 60 years old, having been founded in 1948 in Sausalito, their colorful bud vases, dinnerware and tiles have enjoyed a boom in recent years. Straddling the line between a rough, hand-crafted aesthetic and an elegant, understated quality, their pieces are hard to miss in the pages of design magazines as well as at the homes of some of your most tasteful friends. The new retail location on 18th Street includes a workshop alongside a café serving Blue Bottle coffee. There is also a smaller location in the Ferry Building.
4519, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
In an age when many independent bookstores have surrendered to the advance of chain stores and Amazon, City Lights is a true survivor. Since it was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1956, it has served as a gathering place for San Francisco’s literary communities. Everyone from beat poets to left-wing critics of America have found a welcome here. City Lights is also a publishing house, with Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems being perhaps the single most famous book it has put out, though it counts scores of other works by some of America’s leading contemporary literary figures on its list. You can drop in anytime to find an unexpected tome, and the store also has a crowded calendar of readings.
1400 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Formerly called ‘Jammin’ on Haight,’ the beloved tie-dye boutique rebranded and reopened in 2017 as Love on Haight in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. It’s still a hippie fashion emporium and the place to pick up colorful clothing for men, women, and kids, as well as necessities like jewelry, glitter, sunglasses, hats, books, and all things tie-dye. Love on Haight is one of the few artisan shops on the street, bringing customers psychedelic creations made by locals and friends of the owners. One thing that hasn’t change at all: It’s still all about love. Check out the “peace, love, and kindness” wall, that lets buyers know that a portion of all sales is donated to a charity devoted to homeless youth, Taking It to the Streets.
1621 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109, United States
There are plenty of fancy doughnut shops. You know the type, the ones that count bacon or basil in their ingredient list. But if you’re looking for an old-school bastion of fluorescent lights and pink boxes full of fried dough, this is the spot. A family-run joint that has supplied prework breakfast and postbar bingeing since the 1960s, Bob’s draws a crowd day and night for the fresh doughnuts made from scratch. Bob’s bakes all the nostalgic favorites: glazed, chocolate, sprinkles, sugar, and fresh apple fritters, and crumb-topped doughnuts. You might also notice a giant doughnut in the window. Like a dare, this doughy beast invites you to take Bob’s Big Donut Challenge. Finish the beast within three minutes, and you’ll get your money back plus a Bob’s Donuts T-shirt and bragging rights, not to mention an inevitable stomachache.
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110, United States
With no sign above its unassuming storefront, Tartine is most easily recognized by the line that snakes out its door and down Guerrero Street. People patiently wait for flaky pains au chocolat (the best outside Paris, in my opinion), decadent banana cream tarts, and hot-pressed sandwiches stuffed with fillings like smoked sheep cheese and quince jam. The bakery’s James Beard Award–winning pastry chefs also turn out loaves of stone hearth–baked bread, available every day after 4:30 p.m. Nurse a coffee and nibble on a croissant at the communal table, or take picnic provisions to nearby Dolores Park.
500 Avenue N, San Francisco, CA 94130, USA
Along with a great view of San Francisco, Treasure Island is home to a popular flea market, formerly Treasure Island Flea, and now called TreasureFest. Each month around 400 curated vendors set up and peddle their wares. Stalls offer antiques, originally designed art and clothing, and vintage curiosities. You will also find about two dozen food trucks, live music, kids’ games and activities, and some local wine sellers to fuel your shopping fire. The two-day flea market takes place the last weekend of every month. Launched in 2011 to support local artists and entrepreneurs, Treasure Island Flea is now a must-do Bay Area event.
740 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
When you think of a chocolate factory, a hip and airy space in the heart of one of the city’s hottest neighborhoods may not spring to mind. But therein lies the surprise that is Dandelion Chocolate: part factory, part café, part boutique, and located in the heart of the Mission. Like beans for coffee and grapes for wine, Dandelion brings the idea of single-origin sourcing to each bar it creates. Rather than add strange ingredients to alter the flavor of the chocolate, Dandelion uses just two ingredients—cocoa beans and sugar—which allows each bean’s unique flavor and terroir to shine. Drop in for hot chocolate (with handmade marshmallows) or a chocolate dessert created by Dandelion’s pastry chef, shop for gifts, and take a twirl through the factory, where beans are roasted, cracked, sorted, winnowed, ground, and tempered before being molded. Each bar is wrapped by hand in gorgeous paper and ribbon and affixed with a label that tells a story about the cocoa bean’s origin. For a deeper dive into chocolate, Dandelion has a schedule of classes for adults and kids, and even leads trips to cocoa farms.