The Best of the Gays: Shopping

  • by Chris Sosa, BAR Contributor
  • Sunday April 15, 2012
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Best Clothing Store for Men and Women; Best Place to Buy Wedding Wear

When Bay Area Reporter readers think of clothing stores for men and women, one destination stands out: Macy's at Union Square. The flagship store was the winner this year, and Macy's officials couldn't be happier.

Betsy Nelson, vice president of media relations and cause marketing for the Northwest and Southwest regions, told the B.A.R. that Macy's has something for everyone.

"Macy's is honored to be chosen best men's and women's clothing store by your readers," Nelson said in an email.

In particular, the stand-alone men's has been newly expanded and almost completely renovated. It includes a large collection of contemporary sportswear (Impulse) and an expanded assortment of premium denim, as well as expanded tailored clothing, shoes, and active wear.

For the women, the Union Square store has it all: contemporary merchandise in sportswear (Impulse), dresses, handbags, and shoes. There's also Macy's Woman for larger sizes. Its shoe department boasts the largest selection in the city.

Nelson added that the Beauty and Fragrance Department has a brow bar. And the Home Store has everything necessary to furnish every room in your house.

When it comes to shopping for wedding fashions, Macy's tied with Nordstrom.

Macy's has the Wedding Shop, where you can find clothing, jewelry, and gifts. Nelson pointed out that Macy's has a gender-neutral bridal registry, making it easy to select gifts.

At Nordstrom, the Wedding Suite offers wedding stylists, as well as clothing and gifts.

While same-sex marriage isn't legal in California right now, several other states such as New York allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.

Macy's, 120 Stockton Street, San Francisco, (415) 397-3333.

Nordstrom, San Francisco Centre, 865 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 243-8500.


Best Jewelry Store (Tie)
Gallery of Jewels, Tiffany and Co.

Both winners are new to Best of the Gays. Gallery of Jewels, with three San Francisco locations, specializes in representing finely handcrafted jewelry by local, regional, and international artisans. Bill Hoover, who owns the store with his wife, Dona, said that they have over 100 designer collections.

"Our styles are unusual; jewelry that offers something unique and unexpected," he said. Gallery of Jewels, 4089 24th Street, San Francisco, (415) 285-0626.

Tiffany’s exudes glamour. The heritage of the long-standing brand is richly reflected in the signature Tiffany blue. One glance at this well-known hue evokes not only excitement, but also appreciation for a legendary style that was crafted by artisans working in a tradition established 175 years ago. The company supports the communities in which it operates through its corporate giving program locally and its foundation’s global philanthropic activities. Tiffany and Co., 350 Post Street, San Francisco, (415) 781-7000.

Best Bookstore, Best Magazine Collection
Books Inc.

It’s harder to find bookstores in the age of e-readers and tablets. But Books Inc. continues to offer an outstanding selection of books and magazines. It won in these categories last year. The Market Street store has been at its current location for 15 years; the 11-store chain was founded in 1851. The Castro store has the largest stock of gay and lesbian titles and has current author readings regularly. Books Inc., 2275 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 864-6777.

Best Place to Buy Vinyl, Best Place to Buy CDs
Amoeba Music

This longtime music store consistently wins in readers’ polls around the Bay Area. Vinyl is making a comeback and in the age of iPods and CDs, you can find vinyl at Amoeba. It also sells CDs, and movies, new and used. It is the largest and best independent record store in the world. Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight Street, San Francisco, (415) 831-1200.

Best Place to Rent Movies

Located in the heart of the Castro, Superstar is the home of the finest selection of independent, gay-themed and top Hollywood releases, as well as the curator of the world’s best collection of gay adult films. Some titles are only available at Superstar, which also has many of its gay films available for purchase. Superstar, 474 Castro Street, San Francisco, (415) 863-3333.

Best Vintage Clothing Store (Tie)
Buffalo Exchange, Sui Generis

Buffalo Exchange is new to Best of the Gays. It offers new and recycled fashions for men and women at bargain prices. Bring in your former favorites for trade or cash on the spot. The store’s ever-changing inventory includes designer labels, vintage, jeans, leather, current basics, and one-of-a-kind items. You’ll also find new merchandise and accessories. Buffalo is a sustainable, privately held company that helps protect the environment by reusing clothing. The clothing is by the community, for the community. Three stores in the Bay Area. Buffalo Exchange, 1555 Haight Street, San Francisco, (415) 431-7733.

Sui Generis, located in the Castro, specializes in men’s and women’s new and second-hand consignment items. First opened on 2006 on Church Street, the store is coming up on its fourth anniversary at its Market Street location. Staff noted that they love being in the Castro and appreciate customers’ support. Sui Generis, 2231 Market Street, (415) 437-2231 (men’s); 2265 Market Street, (415) 437-2265 (women’s).

Best Place to Buy Eyewear
Veo Optics

New to Best of the Gays, Veo Optics is San Francisco’s hottest optical boutique with 6,000 frames, knowledgeable stylists, and great prices. The company has several San Francisco locations and is known for its customer service. Veo, 2101 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 861-2020.

Best Thrift Store
Out of the Closet

This well-known thrift store has several Bay Area locations. Owned and operated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, 96 cents of every $1 generated at Out of the Closet goes directly back to providing lifesaving care and treatment for those affected by HIV/AIDS. Some locations offer free, confidential HIV testing. Locations offer a variety of clothing, furniture, and other items. Free pick-up of large items is available. Out of the Closet has an active online presence: follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Out of the Closet, 100 Church Street, San Francisco, (415) 252-1101).

Best Shoe Store
De La Sole

Owner Joe Costa knows what it means to find the perfect shoe and he also knows that LGBTs love them. De La Sole, the Castro’s "Official Shoe Store," offers fashion footwear for men and women. The store also has lots of accessories and its buyers are always looking for up-and-coming merchandise. It’s highbrow style without the pomp. De La Sole, 549 Castro Street, San Francisco, (415) 255-3140.

Best Pet Shop
Best in Show

It’s slogan is "Only the Best for your Pets" and this Castro mainstay is a hit with people and their four-legged companions alike. Specializing in dogs, it stocks a wide assortment of food, supplies, toys, and apparel for canines, and also has food and other items for cats. The neighborhood shop opened about 10 years ago and quickly became a local favorite. Best in Show, 545 Castro Street, San Francisco, (415) 864-7387.

Best Quirky Specialty Store
Cliff’s Variety

For the second consecutive year, Cliff’s Varity is the winner in this category, and really, how could it not? Cliff’s has proudly served the Castro for 76 years, supplying its customers with everything they need for their home improvement projects, crafts and hobbies, gift ideas, costumes, Burning Man supplies, seasonal decor, and zombie attack kits. Terry Asten Bennett runs the show, and Cliff’s also gives back to the community.

One thing Asten Bennett wanted readers to know: Cliff never worked there. The store was named after the founder’s son, Cliff, who was a musician, in hopes that he would take it over and "get a real job." The store was taken over by Cliff’s older brother, Ernie. Cliff’s Variety, 479 Castro Street, San Francisco, (415) 431-5365.

Best Pharmacy

Walgreens continues to be the readers’ choice in this category. With its specially trained HIV pharmacists, personal medication consultation, immunizations, and a range of other services. It also gives back to the community through its window display on 18th Street, in which area nonprofits get to use the space to publicize themselves and events. Store manager Sharon Woo and her staff are ready to meet your needs. Walgreens, 498 Castro Street, San Francisco, (415) 861-3136.