There hasn't been a moo heard in the neighborhood since the early 1900s, but San Franciscans still refer to the trendy residential and shopping district in the northwest part of their city as Cow Hollow.
The first dairy was established there in 1861, and 30 more followed. But the local milk business dried up as San Francisco spilled over its downtown boundaries and replaced pastures with charming Victorian residences.
Now, San Franciscans who wish to avoid the formality of downtown shopping come to Cow Hollow to buy stylish fashion products, personal accessories, home furnishings and gifts with the trendy touch.
The main shopping area is along a pleasant, tree-lined seven-block stretch of Union Street between Gough and Scott streets. Many alleys lead to attractive courtyard and garden shops that should not be missed.
Among the dozens of shops to be discovered, here are some highlights:
Heffalump (No. 1994) is San Francisco's best-known toy shop, with an exceptional collection of European toys, including expensive French and German doll houses, rocking horses, musical instruments and outdoor equipment. The shop also features a wide selection of children's books and science toys, including telescopes and electronics sets.
L'Herbier de Provence (No. 1728) will cleanse your skin and senses with a large selection of natural beauty products and scents from France, including light and soothing facial creams ($14), floral perfumes ($15) and packaged potpourri ($3 and up).
Made in U.S.A. (No. 1749) offers a variety of amusing Americana jewelry, including handmade necklaces that look like licorice sticks ($25) and pins resembling spark plugs ($20).
Argentum (No. 1750) is an antique silver shop. Exemplary pieces include Old Sheffield plate dish rings (from 1785-1790; $875), silver-plated calling-card cases ($600), a 1781 London tea caddy by Robert Jones ($2,250) and four ornate Sheffield candlesticks by Thomas Blagdon (1821; $10,000). Antique family seals sell for $150 and up.
Amusing contemporary Americana is offered at Smiley Gallery (No. 1750), with handmade patchwork handbags shaped to look like pirates ($300) or beasties ($100 and up), rubber bolos ($18) and neckties with cactus or palm tree themes, surrealistic clocks with fork and spoon hands and spinning baby dolls indicating passing seconds ($475). Hand-painted cotton and linen suits and caftans have fanciful portraits of women and birds (from $150).
Exquisite (No. 1799) makes and sells lamb-hide clothing, including high-waisted trousers ($165), Bermudas ($99), short shorts ($30) and fitted skirts ($165). Its stock includes fine Friitala leather and fur coats (from $1,000) from Finland.
Futur Ancien (No. 1801) features avant-garde European fashions. Blue jeans have black silk flowers sewn all over them ($138), vinyl miniskirts have flounces ($178), pink raw silk strapless dresses have back bustle bows ($580).
Georgiou's two Union Street stores sell modish and comfortable raw silk, cotton and rayon mix-and-match clothes, designed in San Francisco. At No. 1814 there are 50% discounts on stock from past seasons, including tops ($10 to $25), trousers ($20 to $25) and jump suits ($36). Current styles are sold at No. 1725 at regular prices.
Moda In (No. 1840) has Italian menswear at discount prices, including Elio Gatti suits ($449, reduced from $665), trousers in interesting fabrics ($95, reduced from $155), silk ties ($35) and all-leather loafers ($124, reduced from $195). Another shop, Milano Moda (No. 2030), has the same ownership and similar stock.
Oggetti (No. 1846) sells fine Florentine marbleized paper objects. Notebooks ($22 and up) are leather-bound, with blank pages or address blanks. There are picture frames ($14 to $58); square, crescent and heart-shaped boxes ($11 and up), leather-bound portfolios ($185) and other beautiful items.
Flying Colors (No. 1872) has brightly colored and reasonably priced cotton casuals: straight skirts ($30) and flounced skirts ($37) to match with tank tops ($18) or turtleneck tops ($24), and cotton leggings ($20). Tank dresses cost $29, drop-waist dresses $50.
Yankee Doodle Dandy (No. 1974) claims to have America's largest collection of pre-1935 quilts. These are arranged in stacks according to color and pattern and are in good to excellent condition. Prices range from $275 to $1,500. There are quilt bags ($35 and up), handmade teddy bears ($25 and up) and folk art objects.
Earthly Goods (No. 1981) offers cotton tank tops ($12 to $34), raglan-sleeve T-shirts ($32), sleeveless turtlenecks ($24), skirts ($30 to $78) and slacks in bright cottons and washable silks. Trendy footwear, ranging from sandals to boots, are sold at discounts.
Skins and Feathers
Skins (No. 2036) sells snakeskin and eel shoes for $40 and up, plus matching handbags ($45 and up), belts ($8 and up) and bracelets ($3 and up). Peacock feather and leather shoes, handbags, wallets and belts are unusual and attractive.