Residing in the northeast part of San Francisco adjacent to Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf and Russian Hill is North Beach. A iconic neighbourhood that is rich in Italian heritage boasting gastronomic delights. It is also home to some of San Francisco’s electrifying nightlife and where the mid-1950s literature group The Beat Generation was founded. It is undeniably a multi-faceted neighbourhood and we loved exploring the shopping in the area.
Shopping in North Beach is mostly located mostly along Grant Avenue. An indie strip that starts at City Lights Bookstore (where Columbus meets Broadway). Follow the road along until you reach Union Street for a asmorgasbord of local goods, indies stores, hidden gems and unique spaces.
After shopping, sip on espresso at one of the sidewalk cafes or head to the Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill for some picturesque views of the city.
A vinyl treasure trove
Take a moment away from the digital world and enter yesteryear (ahem… last century for most). 101 Music is your destination when you want to find a record, LP, or vinyl. You know the thing we used to play music before CDs were invented. Remember them? Discover a rich stockpiles of every vinyl record imaginable. Beyond all time best sellers like Thriller (Michael Jackson), Back in Black (AC/DC), The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) and The Bodyguard (Whitney Houston), you’ll be able to search for some more under the radar releases and some super cool memorabilia. Put aside some idle hours and you’ll find some real gems.
The denim connoisseurs
AB Fits is raved by locals for its quality denim and great fit. When we met founder and denim connoisseur, Howard Gee, what struck us was his welcoming approach and ability to make you feel like you are purchasing tailor-made denim – talk about the perfect fit! What we love about AB Fits is that most of the denim brands are less known like 3×1, APC, Freenote, Notify, Civilanaire, DL1961 and Jean Shop. And they are suppliers of rare Levi lines – Levi’s Made & Crafted and Levi’s Vintage Collection. You’ll have to visit to see the full list of brands that span across denim and women’s and men’s outerwear.
The coolest bespoke tailor
A favourite for many locals and international visitors, Al’s Attire is one stunning bespoke tailor. Why? Their process is simple. Pick your favourite fabrics from their collection of the finest fabrics from all corners of the globe. Go for at least 2 fittings to ensure that the garment complements your body type. And finally, as you collect your apparel, they make sure to keep your patterns, measurements and detailed notes so it’ll be a breeze the next time you visit. Quality pieces accompanied with quality service? Yes, please.
The king of bookstores
City Lights Bookstore is an iconic bookstore. It has been around since the 50s. You know those bookstores where you are not sure whether you are welcome to sit and read… this is the complete opposite. Filled with pockets of natural light, spare an afternoon to take a seat and get lost in the rich collections of this three-story store. Expect to flip through pages of rare and out-of-print books, classics and a heap of indie magazines. The staff have even stuck little notes of their recommendations to the shelves and are always organising cool events. A San Francisco institution indeed.
The window display will be enough to lure you into Maskha. Then once inside you will be welcomed by artisans at work, creating beautiful pieces of wearable art. Just when you think you’ve seen enough you will start to take in the beautiful interiors – undoubtedly one of the prettiest stores in San Francisco. The artisanal jewellery pieces vary in semi-precious stones, wrapped in uneven sterling silver pods. All ages are sure to find something at this workshop come boutique.
Antique maps dating back to the 14th Century
If you’re an aspiring map aficionado or hold a soft spot for antiques then you may have heard of Schein & Schein. Dating from the 14th to 20th Century, the collection is commendable. Antique maps from San Francisco and California Wine Country, vintage books, illustrations, prints… the list goes on. Take a little piece of history with you as you leave the store or have a chat with founder Jim Schein if you’re looking for anything in particular. Find out more about Jim Schein and his Insider’s Guide to North Beach.
Guide to shopping in North Beach, San Francisco