Marina-Cow Hollow Insider

Holiday shopping therapy


We’ve mentioned that charming, historic courtyard a few times here, but no mention is complete without that of Atys (2149-B Union Street), which has thrived for almost 20 years in its corner spot offering a pleasing array of “contemporary design objects” — you know, those items you don’t think you need or didn’t realize existed until you see them and then can’t live without. It’s one of our reliable go-tos when needing a gift, and we’ve scored some fine finds, like the sleek Alessi cocktail shaker, and the olive-oil sampler, cleverly crafted in the shape of an olive sitting on a leaf. Last time we visited, the Missoni home collection caught our eyes as did the Tom Dixon copper French press coffee pot. Be sure to put Atys on your Christmas shopping list — Paul or David will kindly offer you an espresso to make your experience even that much more special.

Also sharing that charming, historic courtyard is Anomie (2149 Union Street). There you’ll find a nicely curated selection of jewelry and other accessories, home decor items, beauty products, and of course, clothing. What’s special about Anomie is they feature “emerging” independent brands, which means those stylin’ styles you won’t find in large retail stores. They are also committed to giving back to the community from dog rescue groups to LBGT causes to supporting DNA testing for those wrongly convicted.

Currently, specific items in the store support the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic (providing supportive integrative cancer care and other services for underserved women), Larkin Street Youth, and Planned Parenthood. Because federal funding for some of these programs may be at peril, your support is needed now, so, shop now.


We love Union Street during the holidays, with all the lights on the trees and buildings, and even the meters disguised as candy canes can make us feel better about feeding them and overlooking (or at least feeling less annoyed) that we got shortchanged for our quarter. In addition to the holiday lighting festival, there are so many more holiday happenings this month, we thought we’d list them so you can take full advantage of the season right here in our neighborhood. And we’re all in some real need of joy and celebration, right?

Fantasy of Lights: Start here with the official lighting, Santa, and good cheer that continues throughout the month. From 3–7 p.m. Dec. 3, from Van Ness Avenue to Fillmore Street, you’ll find entertainment on every block with costumed characters, singers, pony rides, and more. Before Santa makes his photo-op visit from 5:30–7 p.m. at the Cudworth Mansion (2040 Union Street), decorate ornaments or take a ride on a horse-drawn carriage from 3–5:30 p.m. Cap off the evening with some early Christmas shopping — many of the merchants will have extended hours and will validate parking at the Union Plaza Garage (2001 Union Street near Buchanan), 1910 Union Street Garage (near Laguna), and the Lombard Street Garage (Webster at Moulton Alley). And don’t forget to throw dinner in the mix at your favorite Union Street restaurant.

Holiday Elf Hunt: Also beginning Dec. 3 and continuing through Dec. 11, put your sleuth skills to work hunting through participating merchants’ stores for the hidden elf. Finders can then be entered into a drawing for prizes.

Union Street Holiday Wine Walk: For some grownup fun, and to make your holiday shopping even more enjoyable, take a stroll along Union Street and visit merchants offering wine tasting and treats on Dec. 8, 4–8 p.m. (You can do the same thing the following week, Dec. 15, over in North Beach.)

Holiday Caroling: Meet at 1 p.m. Dec. 17 in the other charming Union Street courtyard, at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin (2325 Union Street) for caroling up and down Union Street, then returning to the church for refreshments.

For additional information on these Union Street festivities, visit

Remember, all events are impervious to the weather, so don’t let the rain keep you from joining others to celebrate the season. And by the way, Palm House (2032 Union Street), offers a happy hour anytime it’s raining, providing us shelter to eat, drink, and dry off.

Throughout the season, don’t forget to drop a toy in one of the many collection barrels on Union Street for the SF Firefighters Toy Program, the nation’s oldest program of its kind. We like handing a bag of toys directly to a handsome man in uniform at Station 16 (2251 Greenwich Street), so take your pick, but be sure to pick one to help brighten the season for less fortunate children.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Send to a Friend Print