Tuesday, September 27, 2011

News Flash - Leftovers SF talk about Consignment

On the advice of Laura from Off the Racks, I took a trip to Leftovers, the best place in San Francisco to visit to buy 2nd hand furniture or to consign your household goods.  This isn't a glorified garage sale.  Instead, this is a place where you'll find quality antiques and modern furnishings.  Leftover's philosophy is to reuse, recycle and re love.
Photo courtesy of Heels and Sunkissed Curls

Leftover's owner, Kelly took a couple of moments to tell me a bit about what it is that they do, more about the store, and her team, and what trends she predicts will take off.

How did Leftovers get started?

I was an advertising art director most of my career and I was looking for a new way to be creative and make a living. I had just moved to the Lower Polk area in SF and noticed a corner shop for lease. It was a bit run down, but I knew it could be a wonderful spot with a little tlc. My mom had owned consignment clothing shops since I was 12; I decided to try her business model, but instead, the merchandise would be my “true love”: furniture.

I’ve been recommended to visit your store by many bloggers that I’ve contacted.  What do you think lends to your popularity?

A visit to a consignment is an exciting venture. Leftovers receives at least one delivery a day, sometimes three or even five. The inventory changes so rapidly, the store always looks new and is brimming with interesting items. Not to mention, the great feeling one has when they find a unique piece and it’s A BARGAIN. Shopping doesn’t get any better than that.

Can you tell me about some memorable pieces and people that you have come across over the years?

There’s been hundreds of special things that have come into the shop, it’s really hard to mention just a few, but I will… There was this couch once, made by an English designer, that was pretty cool – modern and antique at the same time. Down-filled. Delicious fabric. Beautiful. It was expensive by Leftovers standards  ($1700); it sold in a record-breaking two hours. Also, we had a large, gold gilt cherub from an old I. Magnin christmas window display. We got it when we first opened and had in our front window. I hated to see him go when he eventually sold – perfectly chubby body, nice countenance on his face, great curls in his hair, etc. Some kids bought it for a friend as a joke. Ugh. (It was $500). Lastly, we got a set of six dining chairs that I loved. Came from a gorgeous house in Marin County. They had originally been purchased at Limn. Each one was a smooth piece of walnut. High backed, modern and organic all at the same time. Stunning. ($2400/set)

Have you noticed any trends so far this year?  What are the hot sellers?

This year we’ve sold lots of beautiful small desks (secretaries), big mirrors, unique single chairs and some amazing couches. Anything that is sexy is hot right now. The antique, grandma stuff not so much. You couldn’t pay me to take a big, heavy, oak roll-top desk!

What would you say contributes to the popularity of that era with interior design?

It’s not a “popular era” per se, but more of an attitude of wanting a “wow piece” that our shoppers gravitate toward. The things that come in that are really cool, are just that… and people want it. Revamping used pieces with a new lacquer or upholstery is often done too. Also, people are looking for space-saving pieces. So many have downsized or are sharing spaces; they need to have furniture that fits just right in small spaces and organizes them. That’s what we’ve seen in SF anyway.

How do you price your items?

With the help of the consignor’s information, the internet and our gut.

People in Vancouver find it daunting to go "treasure hunting" in antique stores and consignment stores.  How popular is consignment in San Francisco?  What do you think influences that?

I think consignment stores are hugely popular in the Bay Area, but strangely Leftovers is the only true consignment furniture store in SF. It’s a ton of work to successfully manage a professional, used furniture business; It’s not for the weak at heart, but I love it. So, I guess, consignment shopping is popular, but opening a consignment furniture store is not. I think what influences the popularity of our store is that San Franciscans pride themselves on being unique and creative. Since most of the housing in our city consists of old, Victorians and Edwardians, they have a lot fun decorating their abodes and love coming to Leftovers to do it.

What advice would you give people who don't know where to start?

First take an inventory of what you have. Get rid of things you don’t like or have outgrown. Donate if they are still viable items. Don’t throw in the garbage. And if you leave it on the street, it may be me who will be picking it up! Make some decisions on how you want the feeling of your space to be when you have finished your remodel or update. Buy some design magazines too – tear out pages of what appeals to you. Try to emulate what you see. Look for pieces to fill in what you need. Then sprinkle in a few things you don’t and you are golden.

As a big dog fan, I couldn’t help but notice your animal family at your store.  Can you tell me about how they contribute to your store?

All of our adopted animals are so loved here at the shop… by me, my staff and our shoppers. It’s really great to see how open the customers are to having a big, fluffy, three-legged cat sitting in their lap while trying to decide on a certain table to buy. We take in animals that usually have some kind of handicap and weren’t adopted at the local shelter for whatever reason. The cats are happy to be here and we are grateful to have them with us.

Last but not least, I’ve noticed on your website that Leftovers is part of a very special community and fosters a type of culture.  Can you describe that culture?

There wasn’t a conscious decision to cultivate a community as in a formal, business mission statement. Our culture grew out of like-minded people coming together. Employees and clients. I never knew there was such a large subculture of regular people who love buying reused and recycled stuff, even though I’ve done my share of visits to Urban Ore in Berkeley and seen all the scavengers there. The demographic is more far-reaching than just those eclectic types driving around in vintage Ford pick-ups.

My mom told me once that you can find a retail space, sign the lease, paint, set up the computers and all the rest, but once you open the doors, the business takes on it’s own life. It expands and grows in directions you may have not expected and it’s interesting to see what happens. I now know that’s true.

So far as the “animal rescue” vibe goes, having our pets lounging around on the merchandise makes our space warm and cozy. Who couldn’t use a little snuggle pick me up from one of our furry friends during their hectic, busy day?

Come visit Leftovers at:
1414 Van Ness between Bush & Pine

Check out their twitter feed and take a gander at their Flickr album to see what they have in store!

Here are some pics that I took during my visit:

You may also be interested in:
Laura from On the Racks
Roselle and Neil
Trish's Pink Kitchen

MOMA Store in San Francisco

We hopped on the BART to the Financial District of San Francisco to check out the Urban Art Gallery, 1 am (more about this gallery, soon) and MOMA

I've heard from several sources that the SF MOMA Museum store and it was the icing on the cake after viewing the Dieter Rams exhibition.  I felt like skipping through the hallways, even though it was filled with other guests, and grabbing everything I saw to stare at it, touch it and sometimes even smell it.  It was like a gingerbread house decorated with terrific reference books, fun home decor items, toys and knick knacks.

One of the first things I noticed was the whimsically decorated children section. The paper mobiles looked a bunch of hot air balloons had found their way to the MOMA sky.

Here are some of my favourites that took all my will power to walk away from:

Balloon book ends, pretty and colourful carafe and glass, and doll figurines.

Ultra Flat clock
Green Pals

Neoprene Basket

I really wished I had bought this little guy because I adore my scooter:

Check out there online store to see what else they have!

Monday, September 26, 2011

News Flash - Style in San Francisco

Even before I stepped off the plan to meet the lovely folks from the Bay Area, I did my research because I thought that my trip to SF was a perfect opportunity to meet and talk to fellow bloggers.  They were a great source of inspiration and pointed me in the right direction to the best shops.

One such person is Laura, San Francisco's fashionista.  A self confessed fashion fanatic, Laura's popular blog "On the Racks" documents her love of her city and fashion.  She recently hosted the Teen Vogue Blogger Event and has been featured in magazines such as Glamour and Nylon magazine.

Laura in Downtown San Francisco - check out the installation in the background and the purse on her shoulder.  

Laura's style is without fuss but still garnishes lots of attention.  Mixing West Coast Cool with New York Chic, she accents her outfits with the perfect accessories and pops of colour.  Laura took some time before her trip to Chicago to answer a couple of questions:

1.   Three words that describe you.
Silly, friendly, fashion-obsessed

2.   Three words that describe your blog.
Eclectic,  lighthearted, visual

3.   Three words that describe San Francisco.
Diverse, Artistic, Cold!
4.   I’m visiting San Fran at the end of the month and you’ve given me some great advice on some places to visit.  What are some must sees for fashionistas?
Head to the Mission for great vintage/thrift shopping. A couple of stores I love in my neighborhood are LF and My Roommate’s Closet. For vintage furniture, Past Perfect and Leftovers are great! 
5.   What inspires you these days?  Did you see anything inspiring, today?
I find inspiration all over – I love reading fashion and design magazines, and reading lots of style blogs.

6.   What are some trends for Fall 2011?  Is there something anything in particular that you’re dying to get your hands on? 
I think the 70’s inspired vibe will stick around for a while, which I am excited about. Also loving tailored, high-wasted pants and of course chunky knit sweaters for fall. 

7.   Name some people who have inspired you and influenced your style.    What is about these individual(s) that helps move you in a certain direction?
Some of my “style icons” include Edie Sedgwick, Kate Moss and the Olsen Twins! I love how creative and edgy they all are – they do things differently. I like that.  

8.   I can only imagine how much clothing, accessories and shoes you must have.  How do you organize it all?  Do you have any advice for people whose wardrobes are full of lovely clothes that are housed in very sad conditions?
It is difficult to keep organized, and I must confess, I am not always great about it. I have a pretty small closet and a lot of things I have collected over the years! I think having storage space is important – those under the bed/couch/etc. bins are great for putting aside your off-season items.

pic name

pic name

pic name

pic name

Check out Laura's blog about style and substance in San Francisco:

You may also be interested in:
Trish's Pink Diner

Type A Ramblings in San Francisco

Closing out the tail end of the summer, I took a mini trip to San Francisco -  a city of diversity, food, culture and grass roots activism.

One of the things that I noticed about SF even before I arrived in the Golden Gate city was how friendly the peeps were.  I had sent out a number of emails to bloggers to get some tips on where to visit.  Immediately, I received emails from Lauren, from On the Racks, Jennifer from The Bold Italic and Jordan from Oh Happy Day pointed me in the right direction.

San Francisco is all about being unique and doing it ethically and responsibly. What I love about SF is that everything is done from their heart - damn what other people think is cool and trendy.

One of the uber fab people I met on the street while waiting for Chicken and Waffles described Vancouver as San Francisco lite - which funny enough, was the perfect description.

Soul Groove Waffles and Chicken Pop Up at 18th and Mission

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be detailing my SF trip by sharing with you the highlights, food, art, spaces and people that I had the pleasure of experiencing.

Rainbow hills tucked away from Haight Street

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Girls Who Wine - Quailsgate

"More cheese... more wine!"

After escaping the crowd at Mission Hill Family Estate, we decided to head down the hill to Quails Gate Okanagan Valley Winery.   This winery differs from Mission Hill in the way that the estate is warmer and lush with trees.  

While Mission Hill Family Estate uses stone and clay-like surfaces, Quails Gate Winery uses warmer tones and materials.  The use of wood and building on different levels give the estate a more welcoming feel.  It's breaktaking,  yet quaint - more like vineyard rather than an estate.

Our initial experience was not good.  We made the decision to sit on the patio in the restaurant and we were given a lovely table in the sun.  However, after taking a couple of pictures and taking a couple sips of water and making a decision on what to order, we were told that we had to be moved so that they could make room for a larger party. Rather than move to a shaded table with a poor view of the vineyard we decided to leave - and I was steamed.  I was determined to march back and give the maitre d' a piece of my mind but Katie and Stefanie suggested that we just enjoy ourselves and do some wine tasting.

Girls Who Wine on the patio before being told we had to move.

Thankfully, the sommelier was a terrific host and certainly saved the day.  He was patient, personable, friendly, and sympathetic.   As a result of his hospitality, we each bought at least one bottle of wine, bought some cheeze and crackers, and had our own little party on the show room patio.  Though reserved for private wine tasting, the sommelier invited us to make ourselves at home.  
Look at all those empty glasses!

Not one for restraint, we enjoyed our wine so much that it left us giggling like teenage girls.  We were waving at random strangers enjoying the tour of the vineyard and documenting all our antics using our various social media tools.

In addition to the wines that we had tasted, earlier, we polished off a bottle the 2009 Pinot Noir and a terrific bottle of the 2010 Chasselas-Pinot Blanc-Pinot Gris.  I really enjoyed the later.  It was a lovely blend of three wines and had such strong pear-like flavour.  It went so well with the goat brie.  I was craving toasted walnuts, endive and dried apricots to accompany this wine.

Turn the clock forward one hour and we've bought more cheese and Amy has bought a bottle of ice wine, which we drank out of chocolate cups.  Girls Who Wine finally decided to stumble out of Quails Gate, with stares following all of us - but we were grinning and walking less than gracefully away from a visit that left us in a giddy state.

You may also be interested in:
Mission Hill
The Bench Market
Sleepy Giant
Dirty Laundry
Girls Who Wine