Best Shopping & Services

Best Underground Record Shop
Vinyl Dreams
593 Haight St., 415-379-0974 or vinyldreams.storenvy.com

While roaming drunk around the Lower Haight with some friends late one Saturday night, we started to feel the ground vibrate underneath us. It turned out that underground record store Vinyl Dreams was throwing a party. After being greeted by a handful of people grooving to bass-y house music amid shelves of records, we learned there’s always something going down at Vinyl Dreams, which hosts events pretty much every day of the week — even Mondays. Electronic music is the store’s speciality, and there’s guaranteed to be someone spinning tunes no matter what time of day you go.  

Best Place to Get in Touch With Your Grandmother’s Sexuality

Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum

Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum
1620 Polk St., 415-345-0400 or antiquevibratormuseum.com

Vibrators are not a modern invention, and the earliest model is believed to have been invented in 1869. Plug in and take a trip back to the early days of electrified female stimulation at the Good Vibrations’ Antique Vibrator Museum, a free attraction at the back of Good Vibes’ Polk Street location. The late, great founder of the adult toy store, Joani Blank, collected antique vibrators as a hobby, and her collection became a treasury spanning from the late 1800s up to the 1970s. Free docent tours take place at 3 p.m. on the third Sunday of every month, and private tours can be arranged by calling the shop.

Best Place to Buy Obscure Foreign Magazines
Good News
3920 24th St., 415-821-3694

This dog-friendly establishment has been around for more than a decade, and it’s the best place to find foreign magazines and international newspapers. Want to get your hands on that controversial Vogue India issue with Kendall Jenner on the cover? Love the BBC show Top Gear and want to check out its accompanying monthly car magazine? You got it. Good News also has hard-to-find-in-the-U.S. publications, like the Australian fashion magazine Russh, the British monthly music journal Mojo, and the U.K. newspaper Financial Times’ secondary publication, FT Weekend.

Best Place to Perfect Your Stevie Nicks Look
Wallflower Boutique
1176 Valencia St., 415-341-0314 or shopwallflower.com

Famous for her witchy-folk aesthetic, Stevie Nicks is associated with long, flowy clothing and billowing silhouettes, often covered in velvet, lace, or fringe. If this sounds like a look you’re currently into, head to Wallflower Boutique in the Mission. Though the vintage store sells clothes from a range of decades, it specializes in the ’70s. Think of Wallflower as a one-stop shop for all things Nicks, a place where you can buy a sheer, floor-length dress, wide-brimmed felt hat, and a moon-pendant necklace all in the same visit. If you want to extend the ’70s vibe to your apartment, Wallflower also sells crystal candles, succulents, and macrame art.

Best Place to Get 1950s-Style Eyewear
See Eyewear
651 Market St., 415-284-4554 or seeeywear.com

Cat-eye glasses are having a moment, so it’s not that hard to find them — if you’re not picky and only care about having one or two models to choose from, that is. If you prefer quality and quantity, you’re better off visiting See, which has an uncanny knack for sourcing bold, unique 1950s styles. For the minimalist, there are standard, wing-tipped glasses that come in bright hues like orange, pink, and green, and a lot of them have ombre shading and color gradations. True to mid-century fashion, there are also crystal bedazzled cat-eye shades that come in springy pastels like lilac, sky blue, and ivory.

Onsen’s spa, at 466 Eddy St.

Best New Spa, Japanese or Otherwise
Onsen
466 Eddy St., 415-441-4987 or onsensf.com

Who knew that the most gorgeous steam room and cold plunge would be located in a former auto-body shop in the Tenderloin? Or that in front, mushroom dumplings, soft-egg custard, and marvelous sake would be served? Onsen, Caroline Smith and Sunny Simmons’ combined Japanese restaurant and spa, is unique and meticulously detailed, from the glowing Himalayan salt bricking up the windows in the dry sauna to the keys decorating the restroom. You’ve never relaxed like this, maybe ever.

Best Laundromat Name
Get The Funk Out
1901 McAllister St., no website

Haight to Wash, Wishy Washy and Brain Wash were all contenders for this contest, but Get The Funk Out wins for its to-the-point and almost-swear-word title. It’s also located on the corner of McAllister and Lyon streets, which means a great cup of coffee from Matching Half or a burrito from Green Chile Kitchen are only a block away.

Best Analog Camera Shop
Glass Key Photo
442 Haight St., 415-829-9946 or glasskeyphoto.com

Shops for cameras that require film are closing left right and center. The shuttering of Adolph Gasser this year has pushed the city’s remaining analog buffs to the Lower Haight’s Glass Key Photo. Tiny and stacked with boxes of paper, developing chemicals, and camera parts, it’s a bit tough to navigate — but shopkeepers Matt Osborne and Gordon Szeto know where everything is and will always take the time to show a young hipster how to load up her brand-new-but-old 35mm camera. It may be one of the last, but it’s also definitively the best.

Best Place to Buy Girl-Power Jewelry
Fiat Lux
3169 16th St., 415-748-2471 or fiatluxsf.com

Fiat Lux recently moved from Church Street to 16th Street, and the bigger storefront means more vintage, homemade, and eccentric jewelry for your perusal. This isn’t your grandmother’s jewelry store: Diamond-encrusted skulls, butterfly-wing necklaces and bold statement pieces are scattered among beautiful, modern opal rings. The staff are all about women buying “power pieces” for themselves, and have even customized a line of jewelry featuring a tiny hand flipping you off. Twenty-five percent of the FU line’s sales go to She Should Run, an organization that helps get women into elected positions.

Best Spot to Buy Cannabis For Your Dog
Animal House
157 Fillmore St., 415-552-0233 or theanimalhousesf.com

Got a stressed-out, anti-social, shaky, or aggressive dog? Head over to Animal House, the pet supply store in Lower Haight that has an entire display dedicated to providing pets with cannabinoids. The non-psychoactive treats are a great natural tool for calming down overwhelmed critters, and come in tincture or treat form. The natural meds are great for flying, long road trips, or crowded backyard BBQs.

Best Wig Shop
Helen’s Wigs
773 Divisadero St., 415-921-4647, no website

The tiny wig shop on Divisadero caters to all types — be they drag queens, Burning Man attendees, or women who’ve lost their hair due to chemotherapy. Helen Kwon has been in the wig business since 1980, and carries around 200 wigs at any time, ranging from $29 Bay to Breakers accessories to $800 wigs made from real human hair.

Best Shop Dog
Spike at Onyx
289 Divisadero St., 415-431-6699, no website

He’s tiny. He’s rotund. He sits on laps. And he can often be found slouched on the sidewalk outside Onyx, basking in the sunshine. Spike the chihuahua is a real cool dude, and he calls the fashion-forward boutique on Divisadero Street home several days a week. In addition to this XS cuddle buddy, the shop has a vintage round sofa and a friendly staff — a perfect place to curl up for a quick doggy snuggle before continuing on with your day.

Best Place to Buy Things No One Needs
Rare Device
600 Divisadero St., 415-863-3969 or raredevice.net

A bundle of tiny wooden spoons. An enamel pin shaped like a taco. A miniature decorative buoy. All of these items (and much, much more) can be found at Rare Device’s Divisadero location. Stepping into the tiny, beautifully curated shop feels like walking into a treasure chest of gorgeous objects, and one can spend 30 minutes just picking up and appreciating all the oddities the store carries. While lovely, almost nothing in the shop is actually useful, except perhaps the $30 Japanese butter dish.

Best New Record Store
Originals Vinyl
701 Fillmore St., 415-660-8779 or originalsvinyl.com

Last October, Originals Vinyl opened in a long-empty corner storefront on Hayes and Fillmore streets. The shop is carefully curated to feature a classic and pristine collection of records, ranging from bluegrass to jazz to rock to rap — but there are a couple key things that set Originals apart. First, about 50 percent of the store is reserved for back stock, so if customers can’t find something in the boxes up front, they just need to ask. It might be floating around behind the counter. Second, Originals offers ultrasonic vinyl cleaning, for $2.50 a record. With such attention to detail, record fans can be sure that whatever vinyl they purchase is squeaky-clean and dust-free.

Best Way to Trip Balls (Without Drugs)
Zazen Isolation Float
2219 Filbert St., 415-806-6899 or zazensf.com

If the idea of floating in pitch-black salt water with nothing but your thoughts sounds terrifying, it shouldn’t! Isolation floats are certainly bizarre, but in a world of group texts, refreshing your inbox, and breaking news, spending an hour in what basically amounts to an artificial womb can be pretty awesome. At Zazen in the Marina, interested parties can reserve time to float in two spacious chambers designed to help you relax. The experience can lead to some crazy thoughts not entirely dissimilar from what psychedelics might offer. Before any hypothetical panic attacks set in, floaters are welcome to open the door or take a break as often as they’d like.

Best Local History Apparel
Paloma/Gangs of San Francisco
112 Gough St., 415-342-2625 or palomahayes.com

Yeah, we know you “Heart SF,” but thanks to Gangs of San Francisco, now you can show it while still looking cool. Available exclusively at Paloma in Hayes Valley, Gangs of San Francisco offers a range of shirts celebrating the city’s past. Dig the Sutro Baths ruins? Grab a Fleishacker Diving Club tee. Did you know Haight Street used to have a water park? Tell all your friends with a Haight Street Chutes shirt. The design work and silkscreen talent of Laureano Faedi, the man behind Gangs of San Francisco, is simply impeccable. Rep your city the right way, and grab some of his gear.

Best Place to Board Your Furry Friend
Mission: Cats
3150 18th St., Suite 103, 415-437-2287 or missioncats.net

No pet owner ever wants to leave a kitty at home, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. If you and your feline companion must be separated, make sure you hook them up with a stay at Mission: Cats. Stocked with climbing towers, nap caves, and prime sunbathing window spots, it’s all about giving kitties a pampered paradise to pass the time until you return to rescue them. For those who simply can’t stand to be away from their furry family member, Mission: Cats has seven webcams where you can check in on your pet from afar. (Seriously, though — go enjoy yourself. They’ll be fine).

 

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