Haute Shopping: Union Street

Perry's
Perry’s

Online shopping and big box stores have their place, but not on Union Street.

ARTICLES AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY LAURIE JO MILLER FARR

Little else but the neighborhood’s name reflects the fact that Cow Hollow was home to Gold Rush-era dairy farms supplying milk to residents of a young city. Known as Spring Valley during the mid-19th century, the forerunner of Union Street was an unpaved path from the Presidio, cutting across the tall grassland beside small creeks populated with wild ducks, quail, and rabbits.

The Bud Stop
The Bud Stop

A century later, post-Gold Rush elegance blossomed in the ex-cow patch as innovative merchants, stylish antique shops, and home furnishing showrooms moved into converted carriage houses, stables, and barns. Elaborate, elegant Victorian residences followed. Because Cow Hollow survived the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, period architecture remains intact, much of it in use for dining and shopping, offering everything from caviar to lingerie.

Take a closer look at independent Union Street shops with holiday gifts in mind: what’s delicious, what’s pretty, what’s handcrafted, what’s organic, and what’s sexy.

The Caviar Co.
The Caviar Co.

The Caviar Co. is a sister act. Two Texas-bred siblings conceived a sophisticated upstairs shop as both a retail space and a tasting lounge for a range of sustainable caviar in attractive tins. The Emerald Caviar Tasting flight is available as a Christmas gift certificate.

The Caviar Co.
The Caviar Co.

Perfect for navigating the streets of our seven-by-seven pedestrian peninsula, stylish footwear maker Birdies combines three elements: the style of a designer flat, the support of a sneaker, with the softness of a slipper. Choose sparkle flats, velvet slides, or The Starling, a comfy and classic smoking slipper, now available in leather.

Birdies
Birdies

Lingerie and intimate accessories from Pink Bunny come with attentive, personalized service that’s missing from the department store experience. Step into Jo Malone London for a botanical scented candle or cologne to accompany a gift-boxed chemise and a bunch of roses from The Bud Stop, an all-season Union Street constant since 1984. For 70 years, makeup artists and performers have sworn by Kryolan, a professional cosmetics brand created in their own labs and never tested on animals. Go subtle or bold with false eyelashes from their Union Street store, one of just three in the US.

Kyrolan
Rainbow of eyeshadows at Kyrolan

Photo Credit: LAURIE JO MILLER FARR

When it’s time to take a break from shopping, stop in at KAIYO for contemporary Peruvian and Japanese Nikkei flavors and watch passersby at a front patio table warmed by heat lamps. On a sunny afternoon in late fall, Cobb salad and wine served at a cheery, gingham-clothed table is reliably social at Perry’s, the venerable Union Street dining and drinking tradition that just turned 50.

Beautiful dish at Kaiyo
A beautiful dish at Kaiyo
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