A taxidermy unicorn is stationed at the door of this eclectic den of plants, animalia, and oddities, drawing gawking window shoppers in off the street. The store has an off-kilter, mystical feel inspired by plants and the natural sciences. Anatomical posters and scientific illustrations adorn the walls, and lush plants hang overhead. Glass cases contain jewel-toned entomology specimens, small taxidermy (including tiny stuffed mice dressed as religious figures), fossils, earrings fashioned from butterfly wings, animal bones (red fox penis bone, anyone?) and pocketknives. All are interspersed with an assortment of garden supplies, whether tools or hummingbird feeders and hanging planters. Work your way back, past the humid greenhouse, until you emerge in the peaceful landscaped courtyard. All the plants here are for sale, including flowers, ferns and air plants. In addition to the retail store, the duo behind Paxton Gate—Sean Quigley and Todd McCrea—run a construction and landscape-design company. The team is responsible for building a number of stores and restaurants around the city, including Central Kitchen, Salumeria, Flour & Water.
San Francisco isn't necessarily known for fashion—though the city has its share of great boutiques—but it is recognized for design. These gift shops are inseparable from their owners, as every item—many of which are handmade—seems to have been thoughtfully selected and artfully arranged. From jewelry to kitchenware and art prints to books, these design-focused retailers contain the sort of gifts you might buy with someone else in mind, but end up keeping for yourself. The city’s indie clothing stores and vintage emporiums also yield unique finds.