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Union Insider

What’s happening at the west end of Union Street

Union Street is constantly evolving — entrepreneurs moving in to realize their dreams; others shutting their doors, deciding it’s time to move on. In one block alone — between Fillmore and Steiner Streets — there have been a handful of changes during the past few months.

Gala, a retail clothing boutique, opened its doors in late August, taking over the former Meggie space. The owner, Gayle Recuerdo, a former preschool teacher, had always dreamed of owning a shop like this. But it was her dad who pushed her to do it. “Be your own boss,” he advised. So when the opportunity to sublet a space fell into her lap, she took it.

Gala is filled with clothes from designers in Paris, New York, London, and of course California. Gayle describes her collection as a mix of modern and vintage-inspired. And the average price point — $75 — is easy on the pocketbook. She also offers a large collection of jewelry, scarves and clutches. You’ll find Gayle in her store every single day — stop by and say hello (2277 Union Street, 415-988-1777).

Just a few days after Gayle opened shop, a new neighbor moved in — Wrecking Ball Coffee. Husband-and-wife team Trish Rothgeb and Nick Cho launched Wrecking Ball four years ago, after moving to San Francisco from the East Coast. Union Street is Wrecking Ball’s first solo permanent location, and Trish and Nick were excited to settle in the Cow Hollow/Marina neighborhood. “There’s not a lot of boutique specialty coffee in this part of the city, compared to what you’ll find in the Mission,” explained Nick.

Wrecking Ball’s beans are sustainably sourced, and their roasting method aims to balance sweetness, brightness, and deep flavor development. And the look and feel of Wrecking Ball is different than many coffee shops. It’s not rustic with reclaimed wooden tables. Instead, it has a modern vibe — with white counters and benches for seating. Wrecking Ball has already built a following and now also sells its beans online at wreckingballcoffee.com (2271 Union Street).

Across the street, Pincushion said goodbye after opening shop one year ago. Owner Melissa Li hoped to give people a new way to unwind at the end of the day, by inspiring them to learn the old-world art of sewing, knitting, and needlepoint. “We live in a creative area, full of the smartest people in the technology world, and at the end of the day the innovation doesn’t need to stop, it can just be done in a more peaceful way,” explained Melissa.

And Melissa’s plan worked to an extent — people enjoyed learning how to knit and make quilts. But she quickly faced a couple obstacles: too many people wanted the Pincushion staff to create and finish projects for them, rather than do it themselves; and the neighborhood was too family driven — parents came in looking for classes for their kids, but then weren’t willing to support the business beyond that. In the end, Melissa decided it wasn’t enough to justify the high rent costs. “People want better choices on Union Street, but they’re not shopping there enough,” said Melissa. “You can’t have this if you don’t support it. ”

Melissa plans to rethink her business and may relaunch it another way. Until then, you can find some of her products in her Etsy store, PincushionCraft.

We’ll keep tabs on who’s coming and going in the neighborhood, but always feel free to tell us about someone we may not know about!

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