It’s never too late

Pub date December 17, 2008

My dad was a fan of last-minute shopping. As in: he’d go to the mall on Christmas Eve an hour before closing and park in the red zone. Though it drove my mom crazy, it seemed to work for dad — thanks in equal parts to his ability to manage anxiety (he didn’t seem to have any) and the one-stop-shop-iness of the mall experience.

But what if you’ve slacked on your shopping this year and you want to shop locally? Whether your idea of "last-minute" is a week before Santa comes or Christmas morning before the kids wake up, here are some shopping ideas that’ll help make your last-minute mad dash less, well, maddening.


Delisa Sage is as much curator as owner of this charming Potrero Hill shop, which features a mix of vintage and locally-made items with a focus on female designers and hand-made objects. From clocks to cameras and jewelry to housewares, you just might find something for everyone here.

1345 18th, SF. (415) 282-4401,


These sister stores are an ideal stop when shopping for kids and their parents. Owner Elizabeth Leu carefully chooses toys, clothing, stationery, and books that are stylish, environmentally friendly, and often made by local designers. Both stores have extended holiday hours, and if you sign up for the mailing list, you’ll get a coupon for 20 percent off.

540 and 508 Hayes, SF. (415) 565-0508, and


Focusing on unusual styles from small-production shoe companies, Delirious is an ideal stop for your shoe-loving friends and family. Plus, owner Amy Boe has stocked up on socks, tights, bags, and slippers for holiday gifts and stocking stuffers.

317 Connecticut, SF. (415) 641-4086,


Come for eco-consciousness, stay for style and selection. Spring always has a variety of gorgeously designed tableware, candles, bath and body products, linens, and often children’s dolls, all sustainable and non-toxic. Think hippie values with Dwell aesthetics.

2162 Polk, SF. (415) 673-2065,


If there are any holes in your gift list, you can surely fill ’em here. Cards, hats, gloves, jewelry, tchotchkes, home décor, joke gifts … you name it, Therapy carries it — and the Mission District favorite is open Christmas Eve.

541 Valencia, SF. (415) 621-5902,


Fun, funky, and oh-so-cute, this tiny store is chock-full of winsome delights, from wooden mustaches to Russian doll–style stackable bowls. Though usually closed on Mondays, they’ll stay open Dec. 23 for last-minute shoppers.

855 Valencia, SF. (415) 671-5384,


An easy hop, skip, and a jaywalk across from Curiosity Shoppe is this weird and wacky favorite where rare stones and plants are as easy to find as taxidermied animals. Plus, they’re open Christmas Eve!

824 Valencia, SF. (415) 824-1872,


Sure, beer is a niche gift. But there’s no better place to find a unique, imported, hard-to-find brew than this delightful basement shop. Plus, you can drink while you shop.

1168 Folsom, SF. (415) 503-1033,


Stuck at home with the kids? In bed with the flu? Sometimes shopping online is your only option. But if you’re going to do it, why not shop an SF-based business? The Branch warehouse on Van Ness Street is stuffed floor-to-ceiling with sustainable, adorable gifts, including toys, furniture, housewares, and clothing. Order by Dec. 19 to send gifts by Christmas. Or, if you’re later, simply send a card with a photo of what you’re buying so your giftee knows you weren’t that late.

(415) 626-1012,


What could be easier than a gift certificate, or more welcome than a massage? Purchase an affordable session ($65–$130) with Potrero Hill-based Jennifer Bryce ahead of tiem and let your giftee make an appointment. Bryce is trained in Swedish, shiatsu, hot stone, deep tissue, and many more massage styles, so everybody (and every body) should benefit from her touch.

(415) 215-6205,


When it’s the idea of a gift that’s more important to you than the object itself, why not donate to your favorite cause — or that of your loved one — in your giftee’s name? is an interesting option for those who want to know exactly where their money is going. On this site, teachers ask for classroom materials and donors choose which projects to support. Check out the main site at or City Editor Steven T. Jones’ personal choices at Support two-wheeled travel by giving to the Bike Kitchen (, a do-it-yourself resource run by volunteers, or the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (, an alliance promoting the bike for everyday transportation. Other organizations we like are Western Regional Advocacy Project (, which seeks to expose and eliminate root causes of civil and human rights abuses; Coalition on Homelessness (, which initiates program and policy changes to promote social justice and create exits from poverty; and Nature in the City (, which seeks to restore wildlife and connect urbanites with the nature where they live. And perhaps the cause closest to our hearts this season is overturning Proposition 8. There’s been some controversy over which of the big marriage equality organizations or smaller grassroots efforts have the tools and resources to affect change, so choose carefully when donating. We like the 10-year-old Equality California ( Other organizations we trust to support equal marriage rights, as well as other issues of importance to the LGBT community, are the National Center for Lesbian Rights ( and Horizons Foundation (

Need even more ideas? Check out the special deals on the SF Convention and Visitors Bureau site, Also see our staff gift lists on our Pixel Vision blog and our 2008 Holiday Guide. And don’t forget to let us know how you spent your money locally this year at, where you’ll enter to win $500 in gift certificates to local businesses.