Sunday, October 26


Hi friends! My name is Lisa Congdon. I am a working artist and illustrator and co-owner (with the amazing Rena Tom) of the design shop Rare Device in San Francisco. I used to have a blog, but now I do not, which makes blogging for Victoria so much more fun. If you like my work, you can visit my art shop here, where I sell prints and original works.

Today I am going to take you on a walking tour of my neighborhood. I live in the north end of the Mission District in San Francisco. I'll post it in two parts: one today and one on Friday, October 31 (boo!). This tour will feature all of the places I like to frequent within walking distance of my apartment (minus restaurants and bars, save one). Please know: it's not intended to be a design tour or a comprehensive "best of" neighborhood tour. There are lots of places in the Mission that are fantastic that I will not talk about here. Some of them were not open on the day I took the walk (which was a Sunday) and yet others are not on my regular walking paths. The Mission is a diverse neighborhood of storefronts. I will feature everything from high end design shops to second hand book and clothing stores. I hope you will come along.

So, without further ado, shall we walk??

First stop: Thrift Town

Okay, so I happen to live around the corner from this the mother of all thrift stores, so I feel quite lucky. In this place once lived half my vintage wardrobe and about a quarter of my extensive vintage kitchenware collection. The loot here is always good, and the prices are right. Allow at least an hour if not more to peruse. Open late on most Mondays. 2101 Mission St at 17th.

Next, a lunch break at Taqueria Cancun. I wasn't going to feature any restaurants (there are just too many), but I set out on my walk at about 11:30, and thought I should get some fuel. I stopped about a block down from Thrift Town at 2288 Mission between 18th and 19th.

Pictured are my two tacos and my Negro Modelo. Yum.

With some fuel I left Cancun for another favorite haunt, Mission Thrift.

Mission Thrift is what we call a "curated" thrift store. I love this place because even though the prices are a tad bit higher that your average thrift store, you get amazing organization of clothing (even a section for sequined tops and dresses). Located at 2330 Mission Street near 19th. I've never left this place empty handed.

Next up, around the corner on Valencia Street is my favorite independent stationary shop, Little Otsu. Filled with the littlest paper gems, calendars, journals, tiny art, posters and t-shirts, Little Otsu is your one stop shop for cute by mostly small run, alternative presses, independent designers and emerging artists and illustrators--including their own line of Little Otsu products. Even though this shop is only a mile away from Rare Device, we stock up on Little Otsu address books and planners from their wholesale line every year to sell on our own shelves. Little Otsu is located at 849 Valencia Street. Window display by the brilliant Jeremy Tinder.

Two doors down from Little Otsu is the Curiosity Shoppe, run by the famed do-it-yourself icons (and just plain nice people), Derek Fagerstrom and Lauren Lee.

Insanely cute, this shoppe is filled with a perfectly curated array of well designed, unique stuff that, well, you don't actually need (in most cases) but absolutely have to have because it makes your life more interesting and joyful. The Curiosity Shoppe also has a fantastic little gallery space that features the work of emerging artists. Watch for my show there with the prolific Mati McDonough in July of 2009. Located at 855 Valencia Street near 19th.

Who doesn't like an independent bookstore? Cross the street from Curiosity Shoppe and you will find my favorite on Valencia Street and where I buy most of my periodicals: Dog Eared Books.

This independent bookstore is celebrating its 16th birthday at a time when internet book buying has destroyed thousands of small book stores across the country. It's because this place (along with many other independent book stores in San Francisco) has an amazing following of San Francisco patrons. Along with a fantastic selection of remainders, new and used books and periodicals (including small run zines), this shop features an ever changing display of original line drawings by San Francisco artist Veronica de Jesus in its windows. That alone is worth seeing. Located at 900 Valencia Street.

Right up the block from the bookstore is a new shop that I've quickly grown to love called Room 4.

I knew when I walked by this place as they were setting it up to open that it would be a regular stop. Part junk shop, part vintage clothing shop, part kitsch shop, part furniture shop, part museum, I could (and have) gotten lost in this place for quite some time. I love seeing quirky places like this in my neighborhood. I hope Room 4 gets to stay for a long time. Located at 904 Valencia.

It wouldn't be a proper walking tour of my fine neighborhood without a visit to 826 Valencia, the baby of writer Dave Eggers, and fast becoming a Mission District institution, not only for it's pirate shop, for for the work they do with San Francisco kids.

Located at, er, 826 Valencia, just a block down from Room 4, this place features a "pirate supply store" in the front and a writing workshop for kids in the back. I made a treasure chest of pirate booty for my nephew from this place two years ago and it was a total hit. At this place, you can get everything from iron locks to eye patches to glass eyes. Take a gander.

Last but not least on today's leg of the walking tour is the favorite shop of many, Paxton Gate.

You are not actually allowed to take pictures in this place--that's how cool it is. I took the one above from the doorway outside. Filled with animal skulls and taxidermy and weird plants and cool books and dead bugs and sea urchins and every manner of completely interesting and freakishly beautiful things from our natural world, this place is worth a stop even if you have no need to actually buy any of the aforementioned things. It is so finely curated (do you get that I like curated shops??) a showplace and shop, that people come from miles around to see its wonders. They frequently also display the artwork of folks who draw, paint or make things from the freakish types of things they sell. LOVE. 824 Valencia.

Coming Friday: 9 more places on my walking tour (which I did in one afternoon, but am splitting into two posts for you so you don't get overwhelmed.) Until then, goodbye and have a happy week! Thank you for coming along.



Bmist said...

WOW! I get to love all of those places just through your writing, Lisa!
Thanks for sharing... I wish i could live in SF each time I stop by Victoria's blog, but I live 3 hours away from Paris, in a lavender and olive-trees land.


curious girl (lisa) said...

mission thrift! I have very fond memories of hours and hours there with my daughter. miss sf.

Sarah said...

We were just in the Mission District so I was worried I had misssed some great places but luckily I visited most of those! :)

Kirsten said...

Your post reminds me why I love visiting your city. My husband and I are planning another trip back very soon and I can't wait to revisit the Mission District. Thanks for the awesome walking tour — can't wait for part two!

A Print A Day said...

thrift town and community thrift are two of my fave thrift stores in sf :)

mayaluna said...

I live in upstate NY, but grew up in your neighborhood. What a huge treat to take a walk with you! I love that Thrift Town is STILL there and STILL so cool! What I would give to have a real burrito from one of the many spots right out your door:)!

lisamarie said...

Yay! My neighborhood too! Can't wait to see where you take us on Friday.

jenniferz said...

What a great tour Lisa! I miss your blog but really enjoy the Rare Device blog. I loved getting to visit your shop when I was in SF in the spring and can't wait to get back for another visit soon. My sister lives in your neck of the woods and the store's become one of her favorites. I look forward to checking out the Curiosity Shoppe and your other recommendations when I next visit her!

lookwhaticando said...

OMG...Lisa you are such a talented human being and after my own heart. You should consider writing a walking tour book on San Fran with all your favorite spots. I so heart your walking tour. I think it is awesome with a huge bunch of awesome sauce on top. It made me want to go visit so badly. Man what a great neighborhood you live in. Thanks so much Lisa. :)

Banana-head Pancake said...

I was so sad to be in SF the day both the curiosity shoppe and little otsu were closed!
But I peered into with windows for my fill and then had few laughs at the Pirate shop.

Thank you for sharing all this!

Anonymous said...

wow you hit every one of my favorite places! :)