My uncle smokes a pipe and cigars on occasion. Everyone in the family hates it, but that's the way it is. When he and my aunt came up to San Fran to see me, he practically begged me to take him to a tobacco shop so he could stock up. I was horrified, because if my aunt found out, I was a dead woman. We dropped my aunt off at a spa for a massage as I 'went to work'. Uh huh. I picked up my uncle and took him to the only tobacco shop I had ever seen, Daydreams Smoke Shop. We walked in and my uncle literally took a deep breath and just inhaled the tobacco smell of the place. I couldn't wait to get out so I had to rush him along. He had gotten in a conversation with the guy behind the counter on the pros and cons of various tobaccos and all I could think of is that I was an enabler. My aunt still doesn't know I took him, but I've had an attack of the guilts ever since. My uncle bought a boat load of things that made him - and the guy behind the counter - very happy. I'll never do that again; my nerves can't take it.
Where can you get all the fun, cheap San Fran tourist souvenirs to send home with family and friends? Why, Only in Chinatown. This is a great store that's full of all the tacky tourist stuff you just have to have if you're a first time visitor. Where else can you get a T-shirt for $4? Their stuff makes good stocking stuffers - something I did this past Christmas. They saved me time and money.
Balloons By The Bay did the balloon arches for our boutique we held last spring. They were able to tie in the colors (sparkly pastels) of our event into the arches. The contact I worked with was funny, friendly and made sure we were happy with the color matches before proceeding. They went out of their way with the color samples and were able to source just the right colors for us.
I took a tour of the Urban Chateau with my aunt and uncle when they were up. They love 19th century French artifacts and were in their hog heaven at this antique store. The proprietors were so good with my family and took the time to show us around and answer their questions. My aunt and uncle were thoroughly impressed and actually very interested in one of the pieces in the showroom.
My aunt wanted to stop into Salve Regina Books & Gifts to pick up a bible. This is an interesting religious store that specializes in Chinese bibles and religious artifacts. I wasn't sure we were going to find anything in English, but they do carry a small selection.
I received such a great basket from Rincon Flowers Candles & Gifts. It was filled with bath products, candles and flowers - a great assortment for my birthday that they delivered to my office. They called to make sure I was in before delivering it instead of leaving it with the receptionist. It was beautifully arranged to the point I didn't want to take it apart!
Our beauty editor loves Japanese skin care lines. She suggested I get some samples from the Han Mi Department Store. I went there and found they carry several lines of Asian skincare products. I asked the differences between the lines and the very nice salesperson took the time to go over them with me.
I was surprised how much I liked Earthtones. I didn't know what they were all about, so I ventured to walk in and do some investigating. They have a wide assortment of furniture, accessories and knick knacks that are in an array of price ranges. I actually bought an ottoman and some coasters that go nicely in my apartment.
I went with some of the girls in my office to La Sirena Botanica to get a couple of candles and get a reading. I take these things with a grain of salt so there was no way I could be disappointed. Some of the girls loved their readings and others thought they were a bunch of hooey. Whatever. It was a fun night out doing something different.
How lucky am I that I get to live part time in San Fran and play the tourist when friends and family come to visit. I bet I get to experience more of San Fran's stores and touristy spots than most residents do. I discovered Asian Styles when a friend of mine from Laguna Niguel came up to see me. He was looking for some Asian inspired artifacts and found some really interersting daggers and sheaths at this store. While he was looking at the weapons, I was looking at their books. This is a diverse shop with lots to look at.