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Over the years, the most important facet of this charmingly creaky-floored haven has remained the same: an abiding love for all things literary. You can read it between the lines of the handwritten "shelf-talkers"?small, colorful signs detailing the staff's personal recommendations. You can hear it when you speak to the friendly booksellers themselves?according to Frommer's, the store's "extended sections in psychology, cooking, art, and history; collection of modern first editions; and rare graphic comics are superseded only by the staff's superlative service." And you can feel it in the air as you climb the winding staircase to the second floor to explore tucked-away alcoves surrounded by original gaslight fixtures.
The store's carefully curated and ever-changing inventory ranges from categories such as poetry and philosophy to sports and children's books. The enormous selection and the staff?s astonishing command of it all have earned Green Apple numerous awards, including the title of Bookstore of the Year 2014 in Publishers Weekly, Best Independent Bookstore in the San Francisco Bay Guardian's 2010 Readers Poll, and Best Overall Bookstore and Best Used Bookstore in 2011 and 2012. The owners spread the joy of reading beyond the shop?s overstuffed walls by partnering with worthy causes such as the Asia Foundation's Books for Asia program and Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.
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.
Effectively capturing significant moments on film is a specialized art form, which can go unrecognized if not displayed well. To help their clients showcase their treasured memories in sophisticated arrangements, Photograph & Frame’s staff developed a system they call “modular picture framing.” This system cuts on cost, using a premade selection of framing goods. Clients can mix and match standardized museum-quality mats and frames, which are all-wood and locally made, to create design-magazine-worthy photo wallscapes. The staff also preserves photos with custom-framing options, cutting mats and forming frames to fit especially large family photos and snapshots that spill into the fifth dimension.
They’ve also curated a selection of photographs from local artists and archives to help patrons decorate their homes in sweeping seascapes and bustling city streets. To ensure the photos’ quality and level of detail, most of the images are developed in a darkroom on Fuji Crystal Archive papers.
Just like the organism from which it takes its name, Amoeba Music?s stock of tunes has no definite form. At each location, expert music gurus?many of them musicians themselves, all of them record-store veterans and dedicated sonic obsessives?amass thousands of new and used CDs and LPs from the most mainstream artists to the most obscure underground bands around. LPs, posters, and memorabilia surround the musical inventory, which, like Ringo Starr?s pants, changes every day. Amoeba buys goods from customers, meaning that on any given day the store might usher in a rare vinyl LP, DVD, VHS, or even LaserDisc. Visitors can sign up for any number of contests while admiring Amoeba?s enduring dedication to its green practices and community outreach. Amoeba couples its huge selection of entertainment with visits from the artists themselves, welcoming past guests such as Paul McCartney, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords, and Elvis Costello to play in-store.
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.
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.
Mastering an instrument takes dedication, practice, and time, although it also helps to receive some professional guidance along the way. At Exploring Music, the instructors help budding musicians improve by providing personalized direction based on each individual's skill level and musical aspirations. Private and group lessons meet in practice studios that have been insulated and reinforced for sound reduction, helping students to fully concentrate on mastering their instrument of choice, be it the guitar, the violin, the piano, the saxophone, or the five-disc CD changer.
The Hobby Company sells creative possibility. For more than 30 years, the store has helped San Francisco residents unleash their crafting and artistic sides. Inspired to paint a portrait? A collection of brushes and colors waits just a few aisles over. And that's just the tip of the creative iceberg. The staff constantly adds new items, building an inventory that caters to all ages. Available items are a diverse as R/C cars and miniatures, along with yarn, beads, and more.
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.
“Why didn’t they just take their nest egg and corner the market on cassette tapes?” asked a befuddled San Francisco Chronicle reporter upon learning that Christin Evans and Praveen Madan had quit their corporate jobs and purchased The Booksmith, an independently owned bookstore. The answer, as outlined in their own Huffington Post article, is simple—they love books. And they firmly believe in the power of independent bookstores, so much so that before purchasing a store outright, they offered their consulting skills pro bono to many area bookstores. In 2007, they they took the leap and bought their own.
The duo understood the pratfalls of owning an independent bookstore in today’s day and age. But, like Proust and his infamous robot madeleine, they looked toward the future instead of the past. They envisioned a 21st century independent bookstore where the simple art of selling books is complemented by literary-community building programs, enhanced browsing systems, and print-on-demand features. And so far, their vision is paying off. Praveen launched Berkeley Arts & Letters, a new-author event program, and the couple has built a literary haven inside of their bookstore. As a result, the spot has transcended the label of retail outlet and become a place where authors and readers can gather to engage in a literary community.
Just the Way You Like It: Many menu items can be crafted vegetarian or with chicken or pork. And for an added fee, diners can opt for beef, shrimp, or calamari, and even duck or a seafood combination.
While You’re Waiting: Peruse the smart modern decor accented with traditional Thai iconography, including ornate elephants and serene bodhisattvas.
Inside Tip: Stop in during daily happy hour (3 p.m.–6 p.m.) for discounted appetizers, wine, and desserts.
Larb: a Thai salad of ground meat and herbs.
Tom yum: a hot-and-sour soup typically starring shrimp. Seasonings include lemongrass, kaffir lime, fish sauce, and chilies.
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.
Since 1998, Top Video World has been provisioning the Sunset District with rentable videos and tech gadget accessories. The staff is committed to customer service. They've personally tested all products in the store for 30 days to make sure they're durable and reliable, and their stock of smartphone and electronics accessories includes batteries, chargers, earphones, and cases.
The third annual Ceramics Annual of America expo takes over Festival Hall in San Francisco, bringing with it thousands of visitors and a diverse array of ceramics. Dozens of featured artists—who hail from California as well as from farther-flung locales such as Mexico and Italy—offer professional insight via artist-panel discussions and display their wares at personal kiosks. These works range from decorative statues and figures to functional pottery, conceptual art, and recreations of King Tut’s favorite dish set.
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.