The 2010 N Judah Chronicles Shopping Guide (Good All Year Round, Too)
There's still time to buy things for Christmas and all the assorted winter holidays, and if you're like me, you put this off as much as you can because holiday shopping is never much fun. Fortunately, you can ride the N Judah and get an assortment of Really Cool Unique Things, and you don't have to go look for parking all day either.
First off, any guide would not be complete without a list of places to buy your Muni related gifts. The Market Street Railway Museum and Gift Shop can be found both online, and on Steuart Street downtown. Their calendar is a great gift for railfans or for friends from out of town, and features great photography. Another fun gift can be found amongst the touristy things at the Cable Car Museum - vintage San Francisco street signs which not only look cool, but can be used as weapons should you be attacked by anyone on the way home.
Obviously, you can always find NJC-related items at our Zazzle store. Today (December 14th) there's a 15% off code (enter code JINGLESALE75 at checkout) for everything in the store, and free shipping on orders of $50 or more. If you're shipping to anywhere in the Bay Area, you don't need to order special shipping, as Zazzle is located in Redwood City, so most itmes get shipped fairly quickly.
When you pull into the Irving and 9th intersection, you're within walking distance to a number of cool gift and card shops. Whenever I need unique cards, wrapping paper, or other fun, unique gifts, I head to Wishbone (on Irving and 7th) and Tutti Frutti (on Irving between 8th and 9th). Both offer distinctly different items, and I find they compliment each other nicely.
Right in between these two stores is one of my favorite comic book stores, Amazing Fantasy. They lean more towards the super-hero type comics, but they do have a small assortment of titles from Fantagraphics titles as well. They are always friendly and will help you find the perfect present for you amongst their assortment of comics and toys.
Also nearby on 7th is One Shot Tattoo. Now, this may sound like an odd present, but if you know someone who wants to get a tattoo, this is the place you want to send them to. I know many people who've had a tattoo made here and their work is excellent and the people who work there are super-friendly.
Going west on Irving, if you find yourself in need of a good bottle of wine at a reasonable price for a party, I recommend checking out 828 Irving Market. It's not only a good neighborhood market, their selection of wine isn't bad. And, right across the street is Pearl, which opened up earlier this year, offering an array of impressive photography and jewelry, all locally made and of good quality.
Keep going west another block, and you will find one of the Inner Sunset's semi-hidden treasures, Sakura. Basically it's a Japanese dollar store with everything from Japanese snacks and food, to household items, to just about anything they can fit in this space! The selection is constantly updated, and if they don't have something you need, they can usually try and find it for you. It's always fun to stop in at any time, but for discounted presents, it's hard to beat 'em.
If you walk up 9th, you'll find Urban Bazaar, which opened up earlier this year. They offer a variety of locally made and "fair trade" gifts, and some of the things they sell there are really nice. I like buying things like this for friends from out of town, because I know it will be something they can't necessarily find in their home town. Plus the store itself is quite pleasant and has a really nice back yard.
Finally, up at 9th and Judah, there is a fun little bookstore, the Great Overland Book Company. Now it has the usual assortment of used and new books a store like this will have, but the real find here are vintage newspapers from the 20th Century. Reading through a stash of these (all preserved in plastic) is like reading the blogs of the 1920s or something.
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Many people don't realize how many great options they have for buying food, especially for a party, etc. out here. You don't need to waste your money at Whole Paycheck when you can buy quality products for much less. Over on Irving and 12th we have Cheese Boutique (one of the best in the area) and Europa Express (which has its own bakery on site, and a great deli counter) on Irving and 15th. Fun fact: the space Europa Express occupies used to be a Safeway, back when the Irving Theater was still around (now the site of an apartment block).
Once you get past 19th Avenue, things start to get a bit more spread out. Irving between 19th and 27th is primarily made up of cafes, banks, green grocers and so on, but even out here there are some deals to be had. There's a pair of dueling stores on the block between 19th and 20th, Handy Market, and Lucca's Deli. From outside appearances there seems to be no difference, but that would be a fault assumption.
Handy Market has some of the best prices on specialty beers that I've seen, sometimes beating out BevMo, especially on imported beers from far flung places. Lucca's has one of the best deli sandwich operations in town, and offers liquor in various sizes. This means you can buy your bourbon-loving pal a bottle of Maker's Mark even if you're on a budget. Also, Lucca's has its own line of t-shirts which make for a fun gift too.
Further on down, if you're looking for more San Francisco related apparel, Hard Wear on Irving and 25th has some of the best selections out there. They often have coupons in those Val-Pak things you get in the mail, so don't just send that to the recycler- be sure to check and see if you've got one.
And, as you leave you'll find you're right next door to Sunset Super. Not the most obvious place to buy gifts, I know. But as I've said before, they always have a selection of these little sake bottles, expertly crafted, that not only look great, they make for a nice bud vase afterwards. Best of all, they don't cost too much money. Sunset Super also has a HUGE selection of candy from Asia that are great for stocking stuffers.
Finally, as we head out to the allegedly "bleak" (bite me NYT) Way Outer Sunset, there's a few little places you might want to check out. Of course, after all this shopping you might first want to get a Trouble Coffee, and once you're finished, head on next door to General Store. I've only been here once but I liked what they had to offer, and again, most of it are things I've not seen anywhere else, even all the other stores that sell Unique Things, so that's a good sign. Other Avenues Co-Op also has some gift items (books, etc.) that might be worth checking out too.
If you have other suggestions on what should be included, feel free to post them in the comments. And if you do end up shopping locally this year, make sure to tell the merchants that the N Judah Chronicles sent you! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!