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Shopping in San Francisco

While boasting the large-scale facilities and international names you'd expect in a major city, San Francisco's shopping scene is low-key and unpretentious. This means prices are slightly lower, and shopping here is a pleasant, relatively stress-free activity.

Shopping in San Francisco
Worth a good few hours of shopping time!

If you want to run the gauntlet of designer labels, or just watch the style brigade consume, Union Square is the place to be. The heart of the city's shopping territory, it has a good selection of big-name and chic stores - Neiman Marcus, whose prices have earned it the nickname "Needless Markup," Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Gump's and a completely redesigned Macy's - worth a few hours if you're into serious dollar-dropping.

An area of 'Shoppertainment'.

SoMa is home to the new Sony Metreon mall at Fourth Street and Mission, a form of "shopper-tainment" with its technology-driven stores and state-of-the-art movieplex.

Renowned for Books and Music.

Although the shops in San Francisco cater for all tastes, it is well renowned for a diverse selection of book and music stores, a few of which are featured below: -

The Booksmith.

1644 Haight St tel 415/863-8688.
Good general Haight-Ashbury bookstore with an excellent stock of countercultural titles.

Borders Books and Music.

400 Post St tel 415/399-1633.
Massive, emporium-style chain stocking over 160,000 book titles as well as a music department with over 60,000 choices. It's a day's work getting through this lot, but there's a café within the store to refresh yourself.

City Lights Bookstore.

261 Columbus Ave tel 415/362-8193.
America's first paperback bookstore, and still San Francisco's best. The range of titles includes house publications.

Good Vibrations.

1210 Valencia St tel 415/974-8980.
A comfortable, decidedly unsleazy place to buy sex books and erotica, specializing in women's sexuality. Also sells a bewildering array of sex toys, condoms and the like.

Modern Times.

888 Valencia St tel 415/282-9246.
Alternative community bookstore in the Mission. Good selection of Latin American literature, women's issues and hard-to-find contemporary cultural studies.

Amoeba Music.

1855 Haight St tel 415/831-1200.
A massive, independent record and CD store with one of the largest and best used collections you'll ever find (over one million new and used). They also host live performances within the store.

Aquarius Records.

1055 Valencia St tel 415/647-2272.
Small neighborhood store with friendly, knowledgeable staff and a good range of indie rock, jazz, and things experimental and obscure.

CD & Record Rack.

3897 18th St tel 415/552-4990.
Castro emporium with a brilliant selection of dance music including a few 1970s 12-inch singles.

Mission Music Center.

2653 Mission St tel 415/648-1788.
Mission store selling music from all over the continent, but especially South America.

Streetlight Records.

3979 24th St tel 415/282-3550.
A great selection of used records, tapes and CDs. The perfect opportunity to beef up your collection on the cheap.


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