Recent Comments


    Shop Local in the Castro for the Holidays and Beyond

    When you shop local, such as right in here in the Castro where the San Francisco Bay Times is based, you can accomplish more than just finding great, unique gifts for yourself and loved ones. Shopping local reduces your carbon footprint, supports local jobs, and helps the community by strengthening local businesses that can add security, character, and better service with a more personalized approach.

    Make a day of it, if you can, stopping for breaks at cafés, restaurants, a walk to see homes decorated for the holidays, and much more. Here are just a few recommendations:

    Castro Village Wine Company
    4121 19th Street, SF

    This boutique seller of California wines carries blockbuster reds from Napa Valley, small production hidden gems from Sonoma, exciting blends from Paso Robles, and great new offerings from up-and-coming wine makers across the state. In business since 1980, Castro Village Wine Company is a go-to for hostess gifts, wines for your own home entertaining, and gifts for all budgets for your vino-loving pals. There are well over 180 wines here for less than $25!

    Cliff’s Variety
    479 Castro Street, SF

    We cannot imagine the Castro without Cliff’s. It is part of the heart and soul of the neighborhood because of its mixture of quirky, elegant, and functional items, but more importantly, because of its dedicated team led by Terry Asten Bennett, who deeply cares about her staff, the Castro, and Cliff’s customers. The store is like an extension of her family and home and that resonates warmly throughout.

    Crossroads Trading Company
    2123 Market Street, SF, and multiple locations

    At Crossroads, customers sell their current, on-trend clothing and accessories for cash or trade credit. If you need more $ for holiday shopping, consider then doing a closet clean-out and heading to Crossroads. You can also find stylish items there for yourself and others at great prices.

    Crystal Way
    2335 Market Street, SF

    It is little wonder that Crystal Way has a near-perfect rating at Yelp. From one review shared by “Audrey H.”: “This is by far my favorite shop. John and Patrick are so friendly and helped my friend and I understand different properties of stones and how they can be combined together for an elevated experience. I was so happy to find some new pieces to add into my collection and work with. Their shop has a welcoming ambiance with soft music and an aroma that is so soothing. I especially loved how Patrick carefully wrapped each stone, and even added a clay piece to protect the point of my bloodstone pillar. It’s the little details that make this shop stand out among the rest. Crystal Way is a true gem! Pun intended. Thank you for a wonderful learning experience and playing a part in my spiritual journey!”

    Crystal Way’s team shared that they wish Bay Times readers “Deep Peace and Uncontainable Joy in the New Year. Check out our sales on Instagram #CrystalwaySF.”

    Equator Coffee
    Multiple locations

    Lesbian-owned Equator Coffees was the first-ever LGBTQ business to be named a Small Business of the Year in the U.S. (2016). Co-owner Helen Russell told the San Francisco Bay Times:

    “It’s important to gather with loved ones during these dark winter months. Holidays give us an excuse for this connection. We hope that coffee can be a part of shared meals at home, sweet mornings on vacation, and meeting up with old friends at our cafes.

    Our holiday blend is a celebration of the art of roasting and made to pair with rich winter meals and desserts. This year’s holiday collection design is an expression of local artist Ayca Kilicoglu and I love the joyful way she’s represented our tiger, café, and baristas.

    We are donating a portion of proceeds (5% of all sales) from the holiday collection to the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA(. As a woman-owned and led company, we want to do everything we can to lift up and support women along the supply line. IWCA does this through their international chapters.”

    Fabulosa Books
    489 Castro Street, SF

    Step into a great neighborhood bookstore such as Fabulosa and you can feel the stress melt away. Browsing their offerings is a pleasant pastime in and of itself, and then there is the anticipation of reading your purchases, and then the actual act of reading, which several studies show can reduce stress levels by up to 68%. Buying books as gifts is also a worthwhile pursuit, leading to happy recipients as well as gift givers, since books are easy to wrap!

    Owner and Proprietor Alvin Orloff is an out gay man who has worked hard with his team to keep a bookstore going in the Castro. Check out his column in each issue of the San Francisco Bay Times.

    Kokak Chocolates
    3901 18th Street, SF

    A favorite of The Gay Gourmet (David Landis) of the San Francisco Bay Times and other members of our team, Kokak Chocolates offers beautiful and delicious candies made with chocolate that is single origin, sustainable, and fair trade. Owner and Head Chocolatier Carol Gancia shared with the Bay Times: “Our Kokak Chocolates Merry Holiday Tree Tradition is a six-inch Chocolate Tree Centerpiece made from a rare cacao variety from Ecuador called Nacional. It comes with a wooden mallet. You can start a fun family tradition ringing in the holidays by cracking open your Merry Holiday Tree on Christmas Eve or morning!

    Also, our Merry x 3 Lolly is a single origin 65% chocolate lolly with yummy 64% ganache filling inside and cocoa nib inclusions on the back. A set of 4, 6, or 8 is a perfect edible insert for your holiday place setting. Thank you for supporting our LGBTQ Asian woman-owned and operated business.”

    Local Take
    4122 18th Street, SF

    Owner Jennifer Meyer shared with the Bay Times: “Local Take is a gallery gift store featuring all local artists and designers. With an ever-changing collection of products, Local Take currently showcases over 130 Bay Area artists and designers.

    Local Take is our love letter to San Francisco. All the beauty and creativity naturally occurring in the Bay Area is forever captured in the many creations of our amazing local artists and designers.”

    ZGO Perfumery
    600 Castro Street, SF

    From owner Claude Gratianne: “At ZGO Perfumery, we are all about scent journeys. And there’s no better time than the holidays go give a gift that sets the right fragrant tone. The two featured gifts here are perfect for the holiday season and are sure to be pleasing to that special someone. Come by and let us help you find that perfect scent.

    The Marriage Freres Holiday calendar sends a message of Peace and Love with a journey of 25 tea sachets for each day leading up to Christmas.

    The Boy Smells Broken Rosary candle sets the mood with its warm light and fragrance notes that recall an old-world monastery. Notes of cinnamon, rose, oakmoss, and cedar arouse a sense of spiritual reawakening and grounded mindfulness.”

    Gift Guide
    Published on December 1, 2022