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Surprising Gifts Unfold Around Every Corner

So many times I rode by the store Dandelion on the corner of Potrero Ave. and Alameda Street right on the edge of the Potrero Hill neighborhood but never stopped. I often made a mental note to myself to visit someday but never felt the urgency to because I thought Dandelion was just another gift shop.

Upon entering the store I found out quickly that I was very wrong. It’s not just another gift shop. As I made my way through the store, the space opened up much like a big gift box with a plethora of presents inside.

Dandelion, which is the retail sister of wholesaler Tampopo (which means dandelion in Japanese) has been around since 1968 and has made its home on Potrero for the last 11 years. The focus of the store is on contemporary designs for the home. The inventory is selected from suppliers around the world and is set out on over five thousand square feet within two floors. The first floor is stocked with dining ware and hobby and kids items. The second floor is dominated by home décor, travel and design.

My challenge to you if you go to Dandelion is to not find a gift for everyone you know.

As you wind your way through the store, items are arranged thematically. Let’s start with the wee ones. For your budding gardener, you can pick up knit cuff garden gloves ($5), a red bucket ($5) and a yellow metal shovel ($4). To give a kid new ideas for play, there’s The Wonder Book of Things to Do ($19). Fun diversions can also be found in the Little Dino Finger Puppet Book ($7) or the beautiful photographs in Discovering Nature’s Alphabet ($16). The selection includes the educational, like the mini globe from Hema Maps ($12) and the stand-bys such as the stuffed animal stork from Hansa Toys ($33).

For animal lovers and the dogs and cats that love them, there is a section of pet gifts and books like Everything Cats Expect You to Know ($18), the Rita durable, non-toxic rubber ball with a hollow core for treats ($13), or the ceramic pail for dog treats ($26).

Tucked in a back corner is the section for the golf, boat, motorcycle and game enthusiasts. There’s an old black-and-white sailboat photo ($85), a metal retro toy motorcycle ($15), a wooden cribbage board ($55) and a bag of chocolate golf balls ($6).

For the relaxing gift of a home spa, there are the elizabethW bath and body supplies like the Neroli Chamomile bath fizz ($7), the Sapone Alla Zucca pumpkin soap ($8) or an entire teak deck with porcelain basin ($1910).

For foodies there is a wide assortment of implements, cookbooks and more, like little Bee House Teapots ($28), The Zuni Café Cookbook ($35) or a set of four Les Fromages de France cheese plates with images of vintage French cheese labels ($43).

To accompany your gifts, there is a good selection of classy, fun and humorous ones, like the blank note cards with the vintage San Francisco scenes ($3).

Make sure not to miss the second floor. The upstairs strongly reflects the interests of the owners Steve Fletcher and Dell Kirby. Steve grew up in Oregon and his upbringing on a cattle ranch is shown in the western items. Dell’s tastes are Asian influenced and you’ll see that in the sake sets, dishware, and iron teapots from Japan. You’ll find books and décor to inspire and add to your own home design. There are travel books, Japanese vases, and western style tchotchkes, just to name a few. The selection on the day I visited included a Duval pastis bottle ($39), The Best American Travel Writing 2008 ($28) and a Frank Lloyd Wright book ($15).

I could go on forever and name all the other items throughout Dandelion, like the wine glasses, bartender shakers, and serving trays, but then this article would go on for about ten pages.

Even though Dandelion’s is located on a busy street right near the freeway, the set up of the store seems to shut out the chaos of the outside world. Maybe it was the influence of the mellow music and mood lighting, but the vast amount of inventory didn’t seem overwhelming. Overstuffed stores can often make for an uncomfortable shopping experience. I felt like I could browse for hours.

If you can’t make it to the store, though I really think you should, a portion of their inventory will be available on the website soon.

As an added bonus, during the holiday shopping season of November and December, Dandelion is open daily.

55 Potrero Ave
Cross: Alameda St
San Francisco, CA

Sunday Closed
Monday Closed
Tuesday 10 am – 6 pm
Wednesday 10pm. – 6pm
Thursday 10 am – 6 pm
Friday 10 am – 6 pm
Saturday 10 am – 6 pm