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Business Briefing: LGBTQ merchants make holiday shopping a breeze

Assistant Editor

Kenneth Wingard San Francisco has a cheerful holiday display of stockings, pillows, and more. Photo: Matthew S. Bajko
Kenneth Wingard San Francisco has a cheerful holiday display of stockings, pillows, and more. Photo: Matthew S. Bajko  

Headlines for months have warned that retail store shelves would be barren this holiday season due to a plethora of problems hitting the country's supply chains. Yet nothing could be further from the case at locally-owned stores in San Francisco's Castro and Noe Valley neighborhoods.

In the commercial corridors of the adjacent districts, LGBTQ merchants have plenty of options for shoppers this year. Not only have they survived two years of a global health pandemic to keep their doors open, the storeowners have stocked their shops with gift items at various price points to assist their customers in making sure their yuletide is gay.

Shopping locally not only supports the small businesses but funnels revenues into the city's coffers to help address myriad budget needs. And after a day of retailing, shoppers can treat themselves with a special holiday delight, such as a hot buttered rum beverage ($8) from the Twin Peaks gay bar at the corner of Castro, 17th and Market streets.

Kenneth Wingard San Francisco, going strong since 2006 at 2319 Market Street, is a perennial favorite for those looking to cull their list of presents to purchase. The flagship store from the home furnishings designer and television star carries everything from clothing to home accessories.

Holiday-themed pillows have been a popular purchase this year. The store is carrying various handcrafted designs from the 20-year-old Chandler 4 Corners based in Manchester, Vermont.
A 14x20 pillow features a VW bus sporting a peace symbol and transporting a Christmas tree on its roof ($86). Smaller pillows sized 8x12 feature themes of the season such as "Cheer," "Naughty," and "Believe" ($29).

For dog owners there are stockings in green or red that feature canines of various colors adorned in scarfs ($38). Fans of pop culture are likely to enjoy Paul Rogers' game book "Name That Show 100 Illustrated TV Show Puzzles" ($14.95) to test their knowledge of popular sitcoms and other programs.

Candles are an ever-popular gift this time of year, and the store stocks a variety of types. Particularly eye-catching are ones playing off the designs of religious candles that instead of featuring Roman Catholic saints deify the leads of the sitcoms "The Golden Girls" and "Schitt's Creek," or pop music stars Cher, Dolly Parton, and Madonna ($22).

The store is also known for its fun T-shirt designs ($34) that riff on politics, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-San Francisco) famous clap back, or Americana, such as a gay play on words with the Disneyland entrance sign. It also carries shirts by Ben Sherman ($79) and Jachs washed flannel shirts ($99).


Ornaments are available at Stag & Manor. Photo: Matthew S. Bajko  

Down the street at Stag & Manor, which opened at 2327 Market Street in 2018, an array of whimsical ornaments made in Nepal from natural fibers are on sale. Designs include an owl ($9), the magician Merlin ($12), and a unicorn ($16).

Handmade baskets with 100% South African cotton by women-owned business Mia Melange come in various sizes and colors ($58-$219). Special for the holidays are ones in a pink and yellow color scheme.

The store will also work with shoppers to customize gift sets for each person on their list. They can be themed around cooking or at-home day spa pampering ($80-$100).

In addition to the various novels, biographies, and other titles on hand at Fabulosa Books, the bookstore at 489 Castro Street, are fun stocking stuffers like stickers. They come in numerous designs, from a wind-up toy robot ($4) to a witch flying on her broom accompanied by her cat and magic wand in hand ($5).

With the closure of the Castro's Best in Show pet store, shoppers in need of canine or feline presents can head to the Noe Valley Pet Company at 1451 Church Street for their gift needs this season. The 22-year-old mom-and-mom shop has everything from specialty treats in yuletide designs like cookies resembling Christmas trees and Santa hats ($2.99) to holiday adornments like a candy cane scarf ($18) to ties and bowties that attach to dog collars ($7.99-$9.99).

Dog cardigans featuring Santa or reindeer, and sweaters sporting moose or snowmen, ($34-$38) come in various sizes. For cats, there are toys stylized as candy canes or stockings ($2.99) to a house resembling a Christmas tree ($90).


The Noe Valley Pet Company is stocked for the holiday season. Photo: Matthew S. Bajko  

Down the street is Maxwell's Pet Bar at 1734 Church (between 28th and 29th streets), which carries more than a dozen brands of fresh natural pet food as well as supplements, including ones made with CBD to quell anxiety in dogs and cats, as noted in the Bay Area Reporter's Bay Area Cannasseur column in February. This time of year it offers special holiday boxes ($40) for dogs and cats that feature dried items such as turkey wings, duck feet, persimmons and Fiji apples.

The Castro will be particularly inviting for holiday shopping December 9 when the monthly Castro Art Walk returns following a 20-month hiatus because of the COVID pandemic. From 5 to 8 p.m. more than 100 artists will be featured at more than 20 businesses in the neighborhood, including at Stag & Manor and Fabulosa Books.

A map of all of the locations can be found here.

Got a tip on LGBTQ business news? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail m.bajko@ebar.com