When it comes to holiday shopping, some people are planners. These are the types who keep an eye out for potential gifts all year long, who spend long, leisurely hours trekking through shopping districts and browsing through stores for that perfect gift in June. But most of us are the other type of shopper: the oh-my-god-it's-almost-Christmas, I-only-have-two-days-to-get-everything, it's-too-late-to-order-online kind. For these people (you know, the rest of us), we've compiled this neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to holiday shopping. Because as much as we'd all love to spend an entire week seeing what every little nook and cranny in the city has to offer, most of us need to get our gifts sometime before, oh, Easter.
Running the gamut from the cheap to the extravagant, Clement Street is an ideal place to do a bit of digging at stores whose owners sell what they like. On a gray afternoon stroll, you're certain to come across at least a couple of rare finds, the sort that will meet the high-design expectations of both the classy and the kitsch-cool San Franciscan on your list.
Donald Gibson buys a lot of his antique dining ware from Eastern Europe or "wherever the dollar is strongest," he says. The store runs on the model of highly organized chaos expect to find collectible plastic napkin rings from the 1930s, mod place mats, and postcontemporary cutlery all hiding between colorful displays of centuries-old china. Check out the walls too.
7 Clement, SF. (415) 752-1900
Fleurt occupies an impressive, breathable space. Its focus is on interior decor and unexpected gifts, most of them from Europe. But don't overlook the tres chic flower selection. Fleurt also provides on-site installations, so stop in and ask about custom wreaths and table arrangements.
15 Clement, SF. (415) 751-2747, www.fleurtstyle.com
At Derek Song and Jamie Alexander's art and design shop, you're welcome to pick over bunches of slick T-shirts, hoodies, underread zines, and original artwork, most of it created by the owners and their friends.
220 Clement, SF. (415) 386-7275, www.parklifestore.com
6TH AVENUE AQUARIUM
Good, clean fun. The 6th Avenue Aquarium presents a dizzying array of fish and flowers, and everything inside is bathed in superpop blue. It's worth a stop just for the hyperstimulation your kid will love you for it.
425 Clement, SF. (415) 668-7190, www.6thaveaquarium.net
GET THEE TO THE NUNNERY
A dress-casual boutique for the discerning madam, the Nunnery will help you find a smart, lively ensemble for your mom that promises not to outlive its wearability after New Year's Eve. Owners Gerry and Billy Sher keep things interesting with an eclectic, mix-and-match approach to filling the racks.
905 Clement, SF. (415) 752-8889
CHEAPER THAN CHEAPER
The hilarious sign says, "Smile, your saving a lot of money." And dismal grammar aside, this place lives up to its awesome billing. You wouldn't know it on first glance, but this shop stocks big, cheap, decent rugs in the back, next to the aging paper goods and the empty boxes of Manischewitz.
626 Clement, SF. (415) 386-1896
Mission and Haight
Everyone knows about Therapy and 826 Valencia in the Mission, and about Shoe Biz and Fluvog in the Haight.