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Backed by more than seven decades of dedicated services, FLAX supports the local art community. The store boasts a massive, expansive interior stocked with a pupil-widening 40,000+ items—including paints, brushes, canvasses, calendars, blank bound books, age-appropriate art kits, and practically anything related to stroking, sketching, molding, framing, journaling, revolutionizing, and mind-caressing. Students and pros alike can open up the art box and toss in a few glossy Montana paint tubes ($6.75 each), industry-standard Copic Sketch Markers ($5.89 each), and oil-based DecoColor Paint Markers ($2.79–$2.99), while fashionista artisans remix essentials with inspired Cavallini 2011 planners ($13.95) and cute, inedible yet enviable KOKO 2010 lunch bags ($24–$29.50).
For Books Inc., it's been a long road, and if you trace the lines back to its origins, it's California's oldest bookstore. After striking gold?literally?back in 1851, Anton Roman set up shop as a bookseller. Although the shop moved, was sold, burned down, changed hands again, and was rebuilt, the spirit remained intact, and today, multiple locations of the indie bookstore have sprouted up across The Golden State. Staff members keep the shelves lined with classic and contemporary tomes in all genres, and a myriad of book clubs help keep the love of literature alive. They also run a vibrant event program featuring author events and readings where patrons can enjoy an experience they can't download.
General Beads overflows with brilliant beads, gems, and sparkling rhinestones, patiently waiting to bring dreamed-up craft projects to fruition. Whether looking to create a one-of-a-kind jewelry piece or a beaded taxicab, hand-crafting artists will discover a wide selection of suitable beads and adornments, such as Swarovski crystal rhinestones ($1 for 12 pieces), Czech bugle-seed beads ($5.50 for a hank), and Czech 4mm round beads ($2.75 for 100 pieces). String bold beads and gleaming gems together with a variety of materials, such as gold-plate cable chain ($1.65/ft.), Soft-Flex beading wire ($9.60 for 30 ft.), or tasty cinnamon dental floss. With an attentive and informed staff on hand to answer questions and give advice, bead buffs will have no problem locating the supplies and inspiration needed to create memorable gifts and name-brand counterfeit moccasins.
We are a locally owned independent record store. We have tons of music and movies, and if we don't have it we can probably get it for you.
With thousands of frame and mat samples, The Great Frame Up can satisfy any and all framing fantasies. The expert framespeople can make diplomas radiate (most diplomas can be framed for around $100–$200), personalized jerseys glisten (most for less than $300), and dorm-room movie posters sparkle (many 24" x 36" pieces are less than $100). The design wizards can also find a home for any prized possession, such as shoebox photos, baby booties, ticket stubs, medals, and really good pot roasts. The Great Frame Up’s no-hassle guarantee and assurance that all work is done on-site means your frameables won't be subject to mistreatment at underground commercial framing facilities.
FastFrame first germinated in Europe before spreading to Japan, Brazil, Australia, and the United States. A trained local helms each of the 300 locations, and guarantees every design for 30 days and the craftsmanship for a lifetime. Artisans crown original works of art and prints with ornate mouldings. They also store historical artifacts and three-dimensional memorabilia in shadow boxes. FastFrame’s team has even been known to frame sports equipment, plasma-screen televisions, and childhood homes.
Get your music where plenty of San Francisco deejays get theirs: Rooky Ricardo’s Records. Music snob-approved since 1987, yet refreshingly judgment-free to this day, this den of vinyl in the Lower Haight is a fantastic place to fritter away an afternoon, combing through the racks or listening to audiophiles argue about their beloved obscurities. Specializing in – but by no means limited to – funk, soul and disco, this is the record store for those who know the difference between an LP and a 45. The expansive and eclectic shop was recently profiled in GQ, and honored with a drink named for him at Virgil’s Sea Room. Owner Dick Vivian periodically purges his stock at street fairs, but his shelves are always full of gems and rarities. Patrons frequently walk out beaming, having found the album they were looking for at last.
Self-described as “the oldest black bookstore in the country”, Marcus Book Stores remains as vital as ever. The narrow storefront in the Fillmore has seen more than half a decade of business come through its wood and glass front door, and has long been home to student pamphleteers and a strong activist tradition. While time has largely quieted the colorful shop, the long-running bookstore remains a must for any book tour author from across the African American diaspora. Speakers and patrons have included James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, August Wilson, Bell Hooks, Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey, as well as hundreds of fledgling authors chronicling the African American experience. A stop into Marcus reveals a calm, intelligent oasis amid a neighborhood in perpetual flux.
From the street, it might look like Multikulti is a glorified locksmith, but inside, things could not be more different. A deliriously silly “dance supply store,” Multikulti is stocked with metallic leggings, fishnet tops and skirts with pizza-slice print. More costume-y than truly a place for apparel, this unpretentious shop fills a unique niche by appealing to free spirits, tweens and drag queens in equal measure. While it’s all at a discount, among the hoop earrings and disposable-seeming thigh-highs are objects a woman with an eye could easily incorporate into a well-crafted look. You’d have to travel to L.A.’s Garment District to get a broader selection – and curiosity-seekers might just walk out with socks that depict a fire-breathing Godzilla or a Chinese opera performer.
Local bookstores are increasingly becoming an endangered species, but in a perfect world, every neighborhood in America would have its own Browser Books. As a beloved and unchanged San Francisco institution since 1976, Browser provides just enough eclectic disorder to give it a well-loved appearance. It’s the kind of place where you could probably read an entire novel deep in the stacks somewhere, without anyone bothering you. The psychology, Eastern religion and cookbook sections are especially treasure-laden, but a peek at the vintage titles in the children’s section will leave any adult transfixed with nostalgia. Or, better yet, inspire a lifelong love of reading in any budding bookworm. Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights might be lined with upscale boutiques, but unpretentious Browser Books remains as cozy as a sweater and a cup of tea.
Located in the sometimes risky but definitely blossoming tech-friendly mid-Market area, Blick Art Materials is a large, student-friendly location of the national art supply chain. The creatively idyllic store features an approachable layout, competitive prices and helpful service from knowledgeable staff. Customers should be prepared to check their bags before filling their baskets with quality art supplies of all kinds, including DIY goodies; quality paper and stationery; paints and brushes; art books and kits; and gifts for artists of all ages. For finished works, custom framing is also available, as are finished prints to be purchased as-is and hung in your own home. Students from the nearby university can take 10% off of their total bill, and parking for everyone is validated with a $25 purchase.
Whether it’s through their coffee or some unidentifiable means, the Mission’s café/sci-fi-fantasy bookstore Borderlands Café has not only stayed afloat through the reign of the e-book and third-wave caffeination shops, but actually expanded its cultural reach. From Philip K. Dick to Lord of the Rings, Borderlands is a paradise for every tribe of self-described nerd, and the adjoining café is the perfect spot to tear into an out-of-print horror anthology paperback from deep in the stacks. With a calendar bursting with readings and author conversations throughout the year, Borderlands acts as a hub for a vibrant community of San Francisco fanboys. And with their dedicated following, pleasant atmosphere and strong preference for quality works by some of the science fiction genre’s greatest names, it’s likely that Borderlands Café will continue to weather the dwindling book economy for years to come.
As the layout can feel slightly vortex-like, Dog Eared Books is one of the best places to let an afternoon spiral away from you, browsing and thumbing through well-loved copies of used books. An ever-chatty staff serves as a nice rejoinder to all the usual book snobbiness, making even causal readers feel right at home. Dog Eared is a Mission institution, complete with the classic discount shelf cart parked out front that acts as a honeypot for erudite idlers. Being such staunch supporters of the writers and authors who live in the area, a purchase at Dog Eared feels more like arts patronage than a mere commercial transaction.
Though some might argue that four years old is too young for a biography, four year olds might disagree. That’s where MyChronicleBooks’ fully personalized books come in. Decorated with a child’s name, favorite color, and photo, each book connects with children like no other by making them the star of the story. Kids unleash their imaginations as they devour pages of storybooks by authors and illustrators featured on The New York Times best sellers list. Personalized tales describe their daily life as a princess, pirate, or simply a big brother or sister. Beyond books, the online store can also personalize other children’s gifts, such as lunchboxes, notebooks, growth charts, and school supplies.
These days, most video rental stores are the subject of more curiosity than anything else. The museum-like hush of Lost Weekend Video, with its threadbare carpeting and Asteroids arcade game and foreign films playing nonstop on a non-flatscreen television, reinforces its aging position as one of only a handful of places in the Mission to rent a DVD. Chock-full of auteur directors’ passion projects, black-and-white obscurities and out-of-print sci-fi flicks, this is not the place for first-run big budget rental flicks; it’s where cineastes bump into film fetishists, fighting over a copy of Berlusconi or Kurosawa. Lost Weekend also plays host to several comedy nights every month in its “Cinecave,” a stage and screening room in the back. This is a treasured remnant of the Valencia Street’s pre-restaurant-paradise days, alive and kicking no matter how anachronistic it might appear.