But for more unusual gifts from the usual shopping spots, try one of these new, off-the-beaten-path, or simply off-the-radar spots.
This boutique's owner wrote the book on San Franciscostyle indie design literally. The local couturier was chosen as the author of Reconstructing Clothes for Dummies (Wiley Publishing), and for good reason: her well-made, imaginative creations have helped define recycled fashion.
485 14th St., SF. (415) 355-1900, www.mirandacaroligne.com
No underachiever, Caroligne also has her hands (and designs) in this collaborative art and retail space in the Lower Haight. The brand-new co-op (its grand opening was, ironically and intentionally, on Buy Nothing Day) features gorgeous, one-of-a-kind items by local designers, who can be seen at work in their on-site studios.
544 Haight, SF. pandorastrunk.com
FIVE AND DIAMOND
Holsters for your rock 'n' roll sis. Leather computer bags for your fashion-forward beau. Tribal earrings for your burner BFF. This circusWild Westpostapocalypticglobal wonderland (or weirderland?) in the Mission has something for everyone all designed by Phoebe Minona Durland and Leighton Kelly, the dynamic duo who've helped make the Yard Dogs Road Show and Black and Blue Burlesque some of the city's favorite exports.
510 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-9747, fiveanddiamond.com
THE CURIOSITY SHOPPE
You know that creative uncle or artsy aunt who always gets you the coolest, most interesting gifts anyone in your family has ever seen? The ones you love but your grandparents don't quite understand? This is the place to find something for them. In fact, the wooden mustache masks or stackable ceramics are exactly what you would've known would make the perfect gift if you'd known before you visited the shop that they even existed.
855 Valencia, SF. (415) 839-6404, www.curiosityshoppeonline.com
This charming Mission boutique is cute-little-paper-items heaven: it has creative address books, miniature note cards, adorably funky journals, and much, much more. You'll also find one-of-a-kind wallets, sweet magnets, and McSweeney's T-shirts. In short? Stocking stuffers galore.
849 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-7900, www.littleotsu.com
You can cruise the Haight for yet another hippie tapestry or stick of Nag Champa, or you can find something truly original for the alt-culture lover in your life. Ceiba stocks a dizzying array of inspired, fanciful clothing and accessories for men and women. Yes, some of the prices can be steep (though well worth it), but the smaller, cheaper items are just as gorgeous and just as unusual.
1364 Haight, SF. (415) 437-9598, www.ceibarec.com
This neighborhood isn't just for tourists and locals pretending to be tourists. It can be perfect for gift shopping if you know where to look.
This is the place for cool mah-jongg and chess sets, opium pipes, and pretty little jewelry boxes. It even has clean, cute imitation designer bags good to know if your giftees swing that way.
456 Grant, SF. (415) 397-4848
This place is just fun to walk into. Plus, if you're in the market for brocade photo albums or scrapbooks, interesting wall scrolls, or unusual night-lights, a stop here is all you'll need.
800 Grant, SF. (415) 398-2602
CHINATOWN KITE SHOP
There's a reason this store is a legend: it has every kind of kite you can possibly imagine.
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