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Street Beat

Designer consignment on Union; “clean” eating on Chestnut

If you’re looking to add some high-end pieces to your wardrobe — without paying high-end prices — drop by Sui Generis, the new women’s designer consignment boutique on Union Street.

Owners Miguel Lopez and Gabriel Yanec have worked in fashion for 22 years for companies like Ralph Lauren and Max Mara. Nine years ago they left their jobs to open a men’s consignment store in the Castro. A few years later, they opened a women’s shop as well. And in November, they moved their women’s collection to this new Union Street location, which is tucked away in a small courtyard a few doors down from the Coffee Roastery. They say it’s exactly what they’d been looking for.

“I always wanted a women’s store in this area,” said Miguel. “And we didn’t want just a little box, we wanted personality. So we found this little hiding place. It has charm. And it gives customers a private experience, so they feel comfortable.”

The design of the boutique is airy and elegant, which complements the collection. Racks are filled with glamorous specialty pieces from designers like Chanel, Prada, Givenchy, and Stella McCartney.

The store also sells handbags and shoes. Miguel points out that most shoes have only been worn a few times. The shelves are stocked with Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin.

“We really take pride in the merchandise we select and how we display it,” said Miguel. “We want customers to have the same experience as downtown. It’s second-hand clothing, but we want it to feel like you’re buying it from a retailer.”

And that includes top-notch customer service. Miguel said if he and Gabriel aren’t in the store to help customers, a seasoned staff is — experts who know fashion well and enjoy connecting with customers. They’re also often working to fulfill customer wish lists, which often begin with vintage Chanel.

But if you’re in the mood to sell instead of buy, make an appointment with Miguel. He’s currently offering a promotional rate — a 50/50 split. He holds all pieces for five months, and starts markdowns after two (2147 Union Street, 415-800-7584, suigenerisconsignment.com).

Down on Chestnut Street, another entrepreneur is giving customers what they want — clean, wholesome food.

The owner of Seed + Salt, Mo Clancy, had no plans of entering the restaurant business, but she ended up there based on a personal need.

“I really try to eat clean, but I was having trouble finding things to eat,” said Mo. “Restaurants were vegan, but not clean. They still use things like cane sugar and gluten.”

So Mo wondered if she could develop a full menu of “clean” recipes — no sugar, no gluten, no dairy, nothing fried, nothing processed, and plant-based. And two years later, with the help of a chef from Brooklyn, she did.

“We spent a lot of time researching and thinking about what kind of food we wanted to serve,” said Mo. “We held ourselves to the ‘OMG standard’ – unless we were like ‘OMG, this is amazing,’ we weren’t there yet.”

And what are customers OMG-ing about? The beet burger is the number one seller. (“Get it with caramelized onions,” suggested Mo.) Runners up are the kale Caesar and eggplant BLT. The chocolate chip cookies are a huge hit, as is the vanilla milkshake (made with real coconut meat and almond milk).

Mo has been surprised by the cross section of customers. Women are loyal, as she had suspected they would be. But so are seniors … probably, guessed Mo, because of their restricted diets. And men have become huge fans, too.

“They walk in a naysayer and leave really happy,” said Mo. “Our food is satisfying and filling. And they appreciate that.”

Mo is now targeting an even younger customer: She’s soon unveiling a kids’ menu.

After that, she’s tackling Marin. Business has gone so well, she’s scouting locations to expand (2240 Chestnut Street, 415-872-9173, seedandsalt.com).

Back up on Union Street, on the end less traveled (near Gough), two women are providing the young, professional “Marina Girl” with “fun fashion at affordable prices.”

Nancy Rooney and Kristin Ducharme opened Current Clothing after realizing many 20- and 30-something women didn’t have much money left after paying rent and other bills. So they sell trendy pieces from designers in New York City, Los Angeles, and Quebec, and the average price is only $47.

“We try to get you out the door with a top and bottoms for under $100,” said Nancy.

Current Clothing sells everything from jeans to dresses to jewelry — whatever the young professional needs.

“These girls go to work, to happy hour, and then they’re off on their Tinder date — we dress them for that,” said Nancy.

Since opening last summer, Nancy and Kristin have learned something unexpected about many of their customers: They need friends.

“I hear it all the time — a girl just moved here for work and wants to make friends,” said Nancy.

So she and Kirstin started hosting monthly cocktail parties at the store, and have helped many women form new friendships.

“We just want you to leave with a smile on your face and money in your purse,” said Nancy (1738 Union Street, 415-400-5517, facebook.com/currentclothingsf).

E-mail: [email protected]

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