The NJC Holiday Shopping Guide! UPDATED!
In the frenzy that is holiday shopping, we often don't realize how many wonderful things are available to us right in our own neighborhood as we set out to Buy Stuff, usually locked in a pattern based on years of experience. So this year, I thought I'd create an N Judah Holiday Shopping Guide for you to consider as you decide what to get everyone on your list. Just about all of them are locally owned and offer you, the consumer, a good value for the money.
It is by no means an all-inclusive list - mostly made up of places I tend to end up at during the holiday season, so if a store you like isn't mentioned it isn't meant as a slight - post something in the comments about places you enjoy as well!
Also, note that from December 7th through February 1st, you can get an all-day pass on MUNI on Sundays. For $1.50 you get a transfer that's good all day (until 6pm.) That's a great deal!
But first, the self-promotion of our two T shirts - the famous "N is Near" and our new "80th Anniversary" shirt which we offer for sale via Zazzle.com. The quality of these (and our items at sister site Adama For President are of dependable quality. I've bought a few for myself and so long as you hang them out to dry, they do not fade or "chap" like other shirts did in the past.
Likewise, if you have a local history or transit fan among your friends and family The Market Street Railway's online store (and their store/museum on Steuart Street downtown) offer some really fun items. My favorite is their calendar, which features some really nice photography.
Also, I wanted to give a special shout-out to my friend Z who has a new online blog+store at FoxyMonster. She was one of the people who encouraged me to start this site, and her jewelry and other items (offered through Etsy.com and Zazzle.com) are unique. If you have a friend who likes unique products, or likes zombies, go check it out!
Now let's start, first in the Irving/9th shopping zone. If you are looking for holiday cards that will stand out amongst the many your friends and relatives will be getting this year, I recommend Wishbone on Irving and 6th Avenue as well as Tutti Frutti just a few blocks away. Whenever I need to get a birthday card, it usually ends up coming from one of these places. Wishbone also had this really cool MUNI themed kids wear a while back.
Right in the same block of shops is another favorite of mine - the Amazing Fantasy comic book shop located next door to the Rain Tree Cafe on 8th. It is one of my favorites in town, the other being of course Comix Experience on Divisadero (which is a short walk via Duboce Park from the N). AF tends to lean more towards mainstream comics (superheroes, Star Wars, etc.) while Comix Epxierence has more alternative/independent titles, in addition to a good mix of Marvel/DC comics as well.
Now, after some shopping, and potential MUNI FAIL, you might need a drink, and of course you have to go to the Blackthorn for a Guinness. However, if you ever find yourself needing to bring a bottle of wine to a party, don't forget to check out 834 Irving Market's selection which is fairly good, and very reasonably priced.
They (as well as several other stores) are now selling 21st Amendment Brewery's beer. I like to get out-of-town friends a present that they might not get back home, and this will be one of 'em along with the obligatory sourdough bread.
Lucca's Deli on Irving and 20th has a nice selection of high end spirits, in a variety of sizes. Want to get a nice bottle of Maker's Mark, but can't spring for the full size? Well they have many sizes to choose from so you dont' have to sacrifice quality for price.
If you're planning a party of your own, I can't recommend enough two places that will give you high quality meats and cheeses for a good price - Cheese Boutique at 12th and Irving, and Europa Express at 15th and Irving.
Both offer a wide array of great food, often the exact same thing you'd find at Whole Paycheck, but for less money. There is no honor in blowing extra cash on the same exact item you can get at a locally owned shop, and you don't have to drive or take the bus to the Outer Rim Territories to pick it up, either.
Most notable, of course is the Sniper Vodka, which comes in an AK-47 shaped bottle. If you're looking for a nice booze-related gift, Europa Express has some great finds you can't easily get elsewhere.
Once you pass 19th Avenue, more of the stores are grocery stores, banks and the like. However, if you haven't been to Hard Wear on Irving at 25th, you should check it out. They have a great selection of jeans and shirts and so on, and they have great hats as well. Since the accident I have been looking to buy a few, and they have a wide variety of sizes of baseball hats, Kangol caps, etc. They also have a complete line of work clothes as well - while I was in there the other day one of the owners told me how every so often someone will walk in off the job with a torn pair of pants and get a replacement at their lunch hour. They also stock those really cool "Avenues" and "Sunset" shirts (the ones that have a logo that looks like an SF Street Sign) so if you want to add to your local wardrobe, this is a great place to go.
Finally, I have found some really fun finds just a few doors down from Hard Wear at Sunset Supermarket, on Irving St. It's not all canned meat and live fish - they have a lot of unique items that you can use to dress up a present with something the recipient might not have seen otherwise.
One thing in particular I found this year were these really nice bottles of sake from Japan - they only cost about 6 dollars and the bottles themselves would make a nice bud vase. They have an array of these little painted bottles of sake and other Asian spirits, and none of them are super pricey.
They also have a heck of a lot of candy from all across Asia so if you're looking for something unique to put in the stocking this year, you might want to see what they have.
These are just a few places I like - if you have other suggestions, please email me or post in the comments! Times may not be spectacular, economics-wise these days but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality for value. Many times there's a great place right in your neighborhood you may have missed in your day to day routine
UPDATE (again, yes I know): I forgot to mention Mobile Fix on Irving and 12th. Not only will these guys fix pretty much any cell phone you can toss at 'em, they also have some cool phones and accessories. I got a great iPhone case I've not been able to find ANYWHERE in town (and usually would have to pay more online). It's unique because it not only encases the iPhone, it also covers the glass screen with a plastic shield that STILL allows you to access the touch features. It has some sort of thin film of fluid in between the screen and your finger.
Anyway, my phone is safely kept away from dirt, grime, finger smudges, drinks and whatnot, and this is the place to find such a great case at a great price!