Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Unique and useful stores around the Moscone Center in San Francisco

Posted by shannonclark on March 31, 2009

In this post I will highlight a number of my favorite little hidden gems of stores in SF which are a short walking distance from the Moscone Center and/or near to hotels where people often stay when in SF for a conference. This is a sister post to my post yesterday about where to eat, drink and entertain around the Moscone. I have also included a number of stores which while not exciting are useful to know about for last minute needs when in town for a conference. This post is not intended to comprehensive nor does it highlight the dozens of great stores in the various neighborhoods of San Francisco

Of course I will have missed many great stores, please add your favorites and your experiences in the comments below

Useful stores to know where they are located

Near to the Moscone Center are two great resources for last minute computer emergancies. For Mac users, the large Apple Store San Francisco (1 Stockton at the corner of Market near 4th St, Mon-Sat 10-9, Sun 11-7) is one of Apple’s flagship stores with well trained Genuis bar staff, frequent events and most importantly for conference attendees with last minute tech needs a deep inventory.

For PC users Central Computers (837 Howard St between 4th and 5th, Mon-Fri 9-7:30, Sat-Sun 10:30-6) offers a good selection of PC hardware and parts at competive, if not always the absolute lowest prices. But if you need a replacement monitor, an extra hard drive, a PC cable or the like they are just a half block from the Moscone Center. 

Cole Hardware (70 4th St between Mission and Market, Mon-Fri 7-7:30, Sat-Sun 8-7) is a local San Francisco institution and a great local resource for hardware. If you need last minute hardware or items to fix your tradeshow booth they are just a block away from the Moscone and have friendly and knowledgable staff.

Utrecht Art Supplies (149 New Montgomery between Howard and Mission, Mon-Fri 8:30-7, Sat 10-6, Sun 12-6) ) is small national chain, based out of NYC which offers a range of art supplies catering to the needs of San Francisco’s art schools and local artists. For a conference attendee they are a great alternative to an office supply store for last minute needs at a conference. I recommend the small leather bound Rhodia notebooks they stock, I carry the reporter’s notebook size in my back pocket at conferences for when there is no substitute for a pad of paper. For last minute booth needs they can offer a wide range of useful items. 

Fun, unique independant stores of San Francisco

Blocks from the Moscone Center is Union Square and Grant Street which are the heart of San Francisco’s tourism and high end retail shopping, all of the major national chains, luxury stores and retailers can be found either around Union Square, along Grant St, or in the nearby large Westfield Center. However scattered nearby are a few local and more unique gems which I would recommend checking out over the stores and retailers that can be found in any major city (and indeed many small suburban malls). 

While the long time San Francisco institution Stacy’s has now closed, a few blocks from the Moscone Center is a truly wonderful new San Francisco store Fog City News (455 Market St between 1st and Fremont, Mon-Fri 8-6, Sat 12-4, Sun closed) offers 1000’s of magazines from around the world and hundreds of carefully chosen premium chocolate bars. When I travel and stay with friends I nearly always stop in at Fog City News first and purchase chocolates to bring as gifts, nearly always also picking up a new magazine or two to read on the plane. 

Gumps (135 Post St, Mon-Sat 10-6, Sun 12-5) is a San Francisco retailer with nearly 150 years of history as a purveyor of luxury goods. Shopping at Gumps is a small piece of San Francisco history updated with highly modern works. This is luxury goods shopping with many one-of-a-kind items and designer goods. I enjoy browsing for inspiration, though my budget hasn’t allowed me to buy at Gumps frequently. 

In my last post I mentioned the Ferry Building, if you are at all interested in great food a visit to the Ferry Building is well worth it. If you can get there on Saturday morning during the Farmer’s Market (Sat 8-2, with a much smaller market Tues 10-2) you are in for a treat. While nearly every store in the Ferry Building is worth a visit a few of my favorites are: Frog Hollow Farms – amazing jams, world renowned orchard; Far East Fungi – I buy mushrooms from among the some 40+ varieties of fresh, many wild, mushrooms they sell for non-locals they also have a great selection of dried mushrooms; Cowgirl Creamery – one of the best cheese shops in the world. Be sure to ask to taste a few cheeses and get recomendations then go next door to Acme Bakery and pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread then go to Boccalone Salumeria and pick up a selection of locally made (pork based) cured meats. 

The result is a nearly perfect picnic lunch. 

And if you need wine, the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant offers a wide selection of wines for any price point or need. They also have a great wine bar with snacks provided from nearby merchants.

For your speciality drink needs I recommend Cask Spirits (17 3rd St between Market and Mission, Mon-Sat 11-7, Sun Closed) They are the retail branch of the rather unique Bourbon and Branch and offer a carefully currated selection of small maker distillers and bar equipment. I am not a drinker so there isn’t much for me personally to buy here but as an example of a store run with passion and with a very carefully selected inventory they are a great and unique to San Francisco new retail store, worth a visit by anyone interested in how great retail can and should work. 

There are many other great stores in San Francisco, many in the various great neighborhoods of San Francisco. In particular if you have some time I recommend exploring the small shops of Hayes Valley, most of which are unique and local to San Francisco. Scattered throughout the Mission District are also many great and also uniquely local stores and there are many others in other neighborhoods. 

Have I missed any great retail shops in SOMA (near the Moscone) or just across Market? Shops which are unique to San Francisco or which are great resources to know about if you are here for a conference? If so, please leave a comment below.

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