What a wonderfully curious place. Living in San Francisco for 15 years, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of shopping in a city that is literally a treasure chest of interesting, creative and independently owned stores that carry merchandise you simply won’t find anywhere else. And stepping inside their small but warm and cozy shop for my most recent visit on an airy spring day, I was reminded of the thought and heart required to avoid the easy pitfall of mirroring current trends and the businesses that started them. The Curiosity Shoppe, vibrant, colorful and unique, does just that by filling their boutique with items that stay within a particular group of aesthetics that’s entirely their own. Many of them are handcrafted in wood, featuring an arts and crafts motif that is streamlined, modern, functional and quite often with a touch of kitsch. Think pigeon hotels and iPhone headsets made with old school receivers, clock radios with almost entirely wooden faces and dials, an artistic take on a bottle opener, and a beautifully hand crafted fish hook leather belt. In the words of co-owner, Lauren Smith, it’s “hardware store meets mid-century modern.” The Curiosity Shoppe is its own, wonderful little world.
Lauren and Derek Fagerstrom are Bay Area natives who moved to New York City for inspiration, then returned to San Francisco to open The Curiosity Shoppe with a singular vision – to share the art and the products they love with as wide an audience as possible. This speaks volumes to us here at StoreSnaps. As often as possible, Lauren and Derek source locally, from artists to design groups. The initial thinking behind The Curiosity Shoppe, according to Lauren, was featuring “items to admire and inspire”. This idea was hatched during their time in New York when she and Derek participated in a group called the “The Curiosity Guild”, a collective of friends that showcased each of their talents in DIY classes, anything from bluegrass to wine tastings. In fact, they are so smitten with handcrafted beauty that they even offer their own Craft Room, where they invite you to come in and experience the simple but profound pleasure of building and creating your own art and gifts.
The real vision, then, behind The Curiosity Shoppe is to create and collect things that are special. Goods that have heart and inspire. As Lauren put it, things you can see “have had a hand on it”. She and Derek clearly have a keen eye for products that are “utilitarian” but beautifully designed with a sense of humor”. Beyond the more obvious oddities inside the store, there are art books, cross-stitch kits, stencil books, paintings, an artsy bow and arrow set and the entirely unique make your own magpie kit. Everything is very playful. I was immediately transported to my junior high school days taking archery classes in the spring and arts and crafts classes in the fall. I wanted to touch everything and shake it like a little kid. All of these products seem to have the uniform goal of inviting patrons of the store to explore their own inner artist or craftsman, to do it yourself. And not a lot of stores are doing that these days. The Curiosity Shoppe is about the curious in all of us – curious to touch and hold and, most importantly, to make beautiful things with your own hands. We think that’s pretty special.
Visit The Curiosity Shoppe at the heart of the Mission at 855 Valencia Street and be sure to download StoreSnaps onto your mobile so you can keep up to date with info and products.