San Jose/South Bay: Where to shop outside of the big box?
September 30, 2006 10:42 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for fun/funky one-of-a-kind type places. Places that you take a visitor because they don't have a shop like that in their town.

Despite living in San Jose for all of my 35 years, the only place I can think of is Affordable Treasures in Los Gatos, and maybe A Step Back in Time in Campbell (is that place still around?). Thanks for your help in my very first AskMeFi question.
posted by deedeep to Shopping (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Power Exchange? I mean, come on, you're a half hour from SF or Berkeley.. or Santa Cruz.. or Gilroy.. do your visitors have garlic toothpaste on hand? Most people don't have those types of cities in their states.
posted by kcm at 11:02 AM on September 30, 2006

Most of my guests have been deeply impressed by the Sunnyvale Fry's and shopping at the Apple Company store.

Assuming that your guests are a little less techheaded than mine, I would take them down to Los Gatos and walk up and down Santa Cruz Ave. There's no one shop that stands out for me, but as a collection of high-end boutiques Los Gatos is a relatively rare phenomenon in most parts.

For dinner, take them to La Fondue in Saratoga.
posted by tkolar at 11:10 AM on September 30, 2006

It might be worth it to drive down to Santa Cruz for the day. Walking down the main drag (dangit, what's it called?) is really fun, all the shops are cute, and the food is great.
posted by radioamy at 11:17 AM on September 30, 2006

Thanks, kcm, but umm... I was looking for more shopping-type places, although you did remind me that I never took them to Leather Masters... At any rate these people are artsy-craftsy types, and they like (and I do too) the kind of places that have weird fun stuff. We've done Telegraph and Chinatown, and I was hoping that MeFi-ers could help me come up with some non-techy places in SV. Thanks, tkolar though, for reminding me that I haven't been to downtown Los Gatos in a while- they have that fun stuff-for-your-dog store.
posted by deedeep at 11:58 AM on September 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

The Rosicrucian Museum.
The main drags in Los Gatos and Santa Cruz both have some interesting little indy stores.
And if you're willing to go as far north as SF... the choices grow dramatically.
posted by browse at 12:14 PM on September 30, 2006

Artsy-craftsy... hmm, it's still a bit tech-y, but my favorite warehouse stuffed with creatively stimulating bits and bobs is Triangle Surplus in San Jose.

Not appropriate for the sweaters and scrapbooking artsy crowd, but if they're into industrial art at all, the place will be heaven.

Oh, and don't forget East West Bookstore on Castro in Mountain View, as well as the i-forget-the-name large import shop across the street from it.
posted by tkolar at 12:56 PM on September 30, 2006

Forget about Telegraph avenue. I guess the street vendors might still be worth visiting, but really, it's pretty much washed up as a destination. If you're visiting the East Bay, I recommend Fourth St. in Berkeley especially to visit the Vivarium, Cody's Books, Castle in the Air, and truitt & White Lumber (but that's just me, I have an unhealthy obsession with great hardware stores). I also like to browse San Pablo ave, lots of good food choices as well as nifty stores like Kiss My Ring, Juniper Tree and Hida Tools (yeah, sorry. Hardware again. Japanese knives and gardening tools!). Rockridge (Body Time, second hand stores) and Piedmont ave are also far more worthwhile than half- empty Telegraph, IMO.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:28 PM on September 30, 2006

If you happen to end up visiting San Francisco again, there's always 826 Valencia, also known as the Pirate Supply Store. You can pick up some glass eyes, message bottles, flags, and (of course) lard while supporting a very good cause. A few other nifty shops on Valencia St. and in the Mission that make it worth checking out as well: Paxton Gate for home, garden, entomology, and taxidermy, Therapy for trendy clothes and novelties, Bombay Ice Creamery for saffron ice cream (and Indian goods galore at Bombay Bazaar), Needles and Pens for zines and other diy endeavors, etc. There are tons of other clothing, furniture, thrift, book, and boutique types shops to be found there as well.
posted by Aster at 2:13 PM on September 30, 2006

Ugh, don't go to the Power Exchange, or Telegraph for that matter, though Good Vibrations is always cool. I second oneirodynia's and Aster's suggestions. North Berkeley is cool for a visit -- the Cheese Board, Black Oak Books, rose garden, is Lobelia's still there?

PS to Bay Areans -- In the four or five days I'm going to announce a meet-up on MetaTalk; the meetup will be in late October, in SF, and will be at a place with food and drinks (probably the 21st Amendment or The Rite Spot). I'm trying to decide between a Thursday after-work thing versus a Saturday or Sunday 4-5:00 p.m. kind of thing. I'll also try to email people who have emails in their profile.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 3:00 PM on September 30, 2006

Definitely plan a trip to downtown Santa Cruz.

Wear a pair of good walking shoes, and you can easily spend hours going up and down Pacific Avenue. The number of unique, one-of-a-kind boutiques and shops are too many to name, and what's even better, is the endless people-watching you can do while window-shopping and browsing - Santa Cruz has a lot of interesting characters, and the atmosphere alone is far more unique than any shop.
posted by invisible ink at 8:03 PM on September 30, 2006

Space Cat and Time Tunnel on Bascom in Burbank? -- with Big Al's Records nearby if you do vinyl.
posted by Rash at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2006

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