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Leisure Birds

Flying Under the Radar in the Mission

A small, chic boutique is nice when you’re looking for personalized service, but it can also be intimidating for some — especially if the intention is to just browse.

For me, when a shopkeeper is intently watching me, I often feel pressured to buy something. I like to call it, the “look and buy or get out” syndrome. There have been times that I haven’t gone in a store because I was pretty sure that I couldn’t afford the clothing. And that’s why I almost didn’t walk into Leisure Birds, a new secondhand boutique on 22nd Street near the corner of Guerrero on the western edge of the Mission. I am really glad, however, that I got over my trepidation and went in the store.

First, the prices are not intimidating at all. Most of the clothes are under $30. But even at these low prices, they are in nearly mint condition and many are recognizable brand names like Banana Republic, BCBG, and Volcom. According to co-owner Yuko Fujiwara, there isn’t a specific style that they carry. It’s more about the quality of the clothes, which are gently used, but look as good as new.

Leisure Birds is inspired by a store that Yuko’s partner, Kioni Cho, visited while she was on a trip in Korea. Upon entering the store, she thought there was no way she could afford anything because everything looked too nice, but in fact, it was all reasonably priced because it was secondhand.

San Francisco’s version of this store carries mostly women’s clothing, a small selection of men’s clothes, and also a limited number of shoes and other accessories, including handmade pins, necklaces, and bracelets constructed of delicate buttons (prices range from $7-$12). The adornments are designed by Yuko, who has a background in fine arts and works as an interpreter when she’s not running the shop.

Yuko’s background in art and Kioni’s experience as an architect is evident in the look and feel of the store. Even though it’s small, it feels quiet, cheerful, and light. The sweet do-it-yourself decorations were created by Yuko and her friends, including a bird mobile incorporating an old yellow umbrella. The clothing hangs on branches instead of racks. Bottles painted in primary colors line a shelf on the wall.

While perusing the men’s section under the aforementioned bottles, I found an H&M paisley button-up shirt ($8), a plaid Volcom shirt ($12), and a striped short-sleeved button-up shirt from Element ($8), to name a few. In the women’s section, I found a black DNKY top ($12), a teal Banana Republic sleeveless top ($13), and a couple shirts from Zara, a long sleeved green shirt with black organic designs ($12), and a button-up white shirt with black piping ($16). Ladies trousers included a pair of Free Soul jeans ($35) and plaid pants from Abercrombie & Fitch ($12). I also spied a long pale peach sweater from BCBG ($22), a blue corduroy skirt from Club Monaco ($15), and a couple of dresses from Express; including a strapless green one ($18) and a black and white graphic print ($15).

There currently is no website if you want to look the shop up online, you can become a fan on Facebook. Go and visit in person when you can. I suggest you step right in, and don’t be shy.