San Francisco is a vintage clothing lover’s shopping paradise with an enormous selection of unique stores throughout the city. While there are many choices for shopping for a classic poodle skirt, knee-length wool coats, 40s-style rayon dresses or cat eyeglasses, there are two San Francisco neighborhoods, particularly in the historic Mission District and the legendary Haight-Ashbury District, where more than 20 stores can be found, some literally next door to one another. While some local favorites might seem to be missing from this list, special consideration was taken to avoid national chain stores. Because parking can sometimes be at a premium in the second most densely populated city in the country, public transportation is always a good option, with a handful San Francisco Muni bus lines serving the Haight from downtown and elsewhere and BART and Muni serving the Mission District. The following are five of the best vintage stores in San Francisco.
Related: See our previous version of Best Vintage Stores In San Francisco here.
1543 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
Located in the heart of the Haight-Ashbury District, Held Over has been selling hip retro clothing and fashion accessories for 35 years. The fabled intersection of Haight Ashbury made famous during the 1967 “Summer of Love” is just a few steps away, with many storefronts still proudly reminding visitors of the counter-cultural movement influenced by the Vietnam War. Featuring a wide selection of men’s and women’s clothing from primarily the 50s, 60s and 70s, store items from Held Over are neatly categorized by decade, making browsing easy for the continuous flow of shoppers venturing in from the busy neighborhood. Held Over is “The Original” store of a group of local recycled clothing stores known as Retro City Fashions, including the brightly colored Haight Ashbury Vintage and another popular longtime vintage store, La Rosa, a few blocks away at 1711 Haight Street.
Related: Best Bedding Stores in San Francisco
389 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
A recent visitor to No Shop, located in the city’s busy Mission District, described the clothing store as “a model for all other vintage shops.” Like any other top-rated vintage clothing store, the clothing racks at No Shop are well organized, with many styles, particularly from the the 80s and 90s, with some items featured from previous decades. Prices tend to range between $10 and $50, although some items may be priced above $100. Opened in 2009, by co-owners Amber Nicole Gavin and Leah Edwina Martin, No Shop also sells clothing by consignment, as well as quirky eight track players and tapes, a common form of recorded music from the 70s, that frequently paused in the middle of a song from one “track” before reemerging on the next “track.” The store is located next to one of the most popular coffee shops in the Mission District, Four Barrel Coffee, making No Shop a popular destination on Valencia Street, known for its trendy coffee shops and an eclectic array of clothing stores.
1360 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Painted Bird is a small, charming boutique store known for a nice selection of clothing and a better value than some competitors. Located just a few blocks from the 24th Street Mission BART station, Painted Bird first opened in 2005 and due to its popularity, added a second store in Los Angeles on busy Santa Monica Boulevard six years later. The store sells both men’s and women’s clothing, in addition to handbags, boots, scarves and other fashion accessories. The store buys, sells and trades clothing, offering 35 percent in cash to potential sellers and 65 percent in trades. New visitors to this Valencia Street business, between 24th and 25th Streets, will instantly notice its brightly colored banner gracing the storefront.
1605 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
Located about a minute’s walk from Held Over in the busy Haight Ashbury District, Relic Vintage is among the top-rated retro clothing stores in the city despite being in business less than 18 months. With a visually impressive storefront and elegantly styled red awning, first-time visitors walking into the store will be welcomed by a multitude of colorful, high-quality vintage clothing, shoes and accessories from the 1920s to the 1980s, carefully arranged on racks, shelves and on the walls. Oran Scott, the owner of the store, previously managed La Rosa Vintage for 10 years before opening up his own business in March 2012. He is widely regarded as extremely knowledgeable in the vintage clothing industry and is often greeting customers, in addition to offering assistance and answering questions on any of his fine quality items.
Retro Fit Vintage
910 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Independently owned by popular local stage performer Steven LeMay, who’s also a talented entrepreneur, designer and journalist, Retro Fit Vintage is known for a wide selection of impeccably arranged, quality vintage clothing and fashion accessories. Upon entering the store, visitors will notice the nice collection of sunglasses to suit just about any occasion, in addition to racks of vintage clothing, necklaces, purses, scarves, gloves, hats, 70s-styled t-shirts and a handful of travel bags from the 60s. LeMay, who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Berkeley Repertory Theater, has appeared in multiple stage productions, as well as movies and television, including an appearance on “Nash Bridges” and “Project Runway.” Just a few blocks from the city’s oldest surviving structure, Mission Dolores, Retro Fit also has an impressive selection of men’s and women’s wigs available for special occasions or events, a makeup counter featuring professional-grade cosmetics and a prosthetic counter, along with a large selection of beards and moustaches.