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Noe Valley Shopping

Strollers, Labradors and More

Noe Valley is one of the few neighborhoods in San Francisco where you’ll find more boutiques and gift shops than eateries. Nestled in the heart of the neighborhood are five flat blocks, stretching down 24th Street from Church Street to Castro Street, packed with places that are perfect birthday gifts, wedding present or a personal treat. Barring the occasional battle with the stroller brigade, shopping Noe Valley can be a pleasant shopping experience.

Everything about Wink, at the west end of 24th Street near Castro Street, is cheerful: the name, the soft lemon yellow sign out front, and all the goodies inside. The store is little but it packs in a variety of home décor, kitchen and bath accessories, tea pots, jewelry, shirts, bags, travel kits, and hand-printed cards. There’s a variety of offerings from mostly local and Japanese designers, including Gama Go!, Koziol, Tokidoki and UglyDolls.

Two Birds
Right off the main drag is a relative newcomer to the neighborhood, Two Birds. Opened just this past year, it is a clothing and accessories shop from Susanna Taylor and Audrey Yang, former buyers at HeidiSays boutique in Pacific Heights. They emphasize versatile basics that can take you from work to weekend, and sunny San Francisco days to foggy Noe Valley nights. You’ll find Vince sweaters, Elizabeth and James blazers, tops from Joie and Theory, jeans from Mother, and dresses from San Francisco designer Amour Vert. Accessories include Rebecca Minkoff bags, We Are Owls silk-and-cashmere scarves and jewelry from local designers Jennifer Tuton and M. Stone. Come by and say “hi” to Maile, the resident black labrador.

Just for Fun and Scribbledoodles
If you don’t get your dog fix at Two Birds, walk over to meet the mutts Rabadash and Tommy at Just for Fun and Scribbledoodles. This store is essentially two shops in one. The Just for Fun part is just that: kooky games, gag gifts, joke cards, board games and party supplies. Though Scribbledoodles is a silly name, it’s the more serious side of the store and it specializes in stationery. InScribe machines can create personalized stationery from any design, custom artwork or photographs and it can often be done in less than a week. For something more personal, handmade invitations on natural papers are printed with elegant calligraphy.

Urban Nest
Follow the sounds of birds chirping (yes, really) across the street to Urban Nest for its French inspired housewares, baby gifts, stationery and bedding. Your little wolf can dress up like a lamb in a wooly animal coat and booties and glasses come decorated with bees, gnomes or goldfish. Then carry it all home in a tote made of woven polypropylene and decorated with a collage of birds. If you like the merchandise, but find the prices a tad high, check the sale shelf in the back where you can always find a few deals.

Common Scents
Tucked into a narrow nook across the street from Urban Nest is one of the neighborhood’s retail veterans, Common Scents, a bath accessories shop. Common Scents’ little space is crammed with every type of bath and body potion and lotion, including toothpaste from Tom’s of Maine, facial creams from Kiehl’s and cleansers from Alba. The store even offers its own line of house-brand lotions and creams. There’s also a selection of candles from Pacifica in scents like lemon, verbena, almond, and jasmine.

Ladybug Ladybug
Unique greeting cards aren’t hard to find along 24th Street, but Ladybug Ladybug has the bulk of them. Every sentiment can be expressed in cards that range from cute and sweet to silly and bawdy. There’s also a selection of gift wrapping paper, toys, mugs, baby socks, onesies, and more.

The Ark
There are a lot of places you can find kid’s toys on 24th Street, hence the massive number of baby buggies, but you can’t beat The Ark. There’s no plastic Disney garbage here. These are creative, old-school toys, imported from all over the world, that will spark a child’s imagination. It might be a little more expensive than your average play items, but these toys are the kind that can be passed down for generations.

Near the corner of Church Street, Isso features local designers like Nopal, Nicacelly, and She-Bible, but the store also has in-house designed dresses and tops made from recycled fabrics, as well as vintage apparel, clutches, shoes, jewelry and scarves. A few 60s and 70s era dishes and glasses are thrown in for good measure.