how to travel in the city of San Francisco with sustainability at the forefront.
1. TAKE TO THE STREETS
When it comes to the topic of sustainability, I think we need to rejig the way in which we think about its accessibility. It sometimes isn't financially viable when travelling, for people to stay at the latest hip hotel or eat at the finest restaurants, which is why we 'take the streets', on the rare occasion, I myself, get to take a vacation. I find I learn so much about the city I'm in by walking every block, entering different stores and catching public transport. Some of the best conversations I've had in cities abroad have been with people whilst at the bus stop or in line waiting for food. And you'll never be short on connecting with people if you're planning a trip to the U.S as Americans are some of the friendliest and accommodating people I've met whilst travelling. When we visited the US last year it was juts after the trump election, and it was great to hear firsthand how people thought and felt about the newly appointed president. This is also one of the best ways to learn more about local communities and what a city really has to offer away from mainstream tourist attractions. This is the second time I've visited San Francisco - I decided to stay in a different location to my first trip. It was a completely different experience, where I was apart of a more diverse and ethnically rich community. As usual I stayed at an Airbnb in the Mission District - the city of San Francisco is pretty pricey, so this part of the tommie USA road trip was a private room in an apartment.
2. TO MARKET, TO MARKET...
THE ALAMEDA MARKET
I am, through and through, a true carnie at heart - a trait that I think is in my DNA now, given the sheer amount of flea markets, garage sales, auctions and thrift stores I visited as a child. And so, my mission for this tommie USA road trip was to visit as many markets - big and small - starting from the Pacific North West in Portland to the west coast of California, just to really earn my carnie gold star!
This here is the Alameda Point Antiques Fair, it happens on the first Sunday of every month and is located at 2900 Navy Way, Alameda.
If you live in San Francisco, or are moving there and looking to furnish your home with unique, quality vintage pieces - I can't stress enough - this is the place to do so! I was ready to phone home to tell my husband we were moving from Sydney to San Fran because of the sheer beauty and rarity of the pieces I came across at this market. I wasn't sure what to expect, but there was definitely an array of great vintage clothing finds as well.
If you're super eager, I'd recommend arriving early to get first dibs whilst vendors are still unpacking from their vans and trucks. We arrived at about 5.30am with a trolley in tow. Here are some other tips on how to tackle the market if you're a collector or vintage lover like us:
- Arrive early, there was a long line even for the Early Bird 6.00am entry.
- If you are going to visit as an Early Bird entrant, make sure your phone is charged so you can use the headlight on your phone, or better yet, try and get your hands on a headlight that you can wear around your head so your hands are free to sift through the racks. It's still dark at this time and almost impossible to see anything if you don't have a light.
- Wear warm garments that are easy to strip off if you're wanting to try on clothes.
- Because the location is near the harbour I recommend wearing gloves, a scarf, a beanie and socks - it's very chilly in the morning!
- Take snacks with you so you don't have to stop and eat when it is prime time viewing. Bananas, nuts, homemade muesli bars and protein balls are good things to take along so you can scoff them down without too much packaging garbage to have to hold onto when all you want to do is shop!
- Make sure you have exact change when you're purchasing your ticket so you can move swiftly from the ticket booth to the market line.
- Take a trolley with good wheels so you can easily manoeuvre from one stall to the next, a lot of people have trollies that look the same, so I tied a red bandana around ours to differentiate it from the rest. You can use ribbon or anything else you'll recognise.
- It's ok to negotiate prices at this market, market sellers welcome it, especially if you have cash.
- Wear comfortable shoes, this is so important - if you're like us we were here for about 6 hours and wearing sneakers was the only way to get through the day.
- If you're a real collector, you'll want to have a thorough scan at all the stall holders, make sure to wear a tshirt or singlet underneath your warm layers, as it gets quite hot when the sun comes out. You may even need to take sun screen and a hat.
3. VINTAGE + THRIFT STORES
The city of San Francisco definitely isn't short on vintage + thrift stores, here are a few of our favourites we discovered on popular Haight, Valencia street + surrounds from 50's novelty prints to 70's suede and cowboy boots - there's an era for everyone.
1. Relic Vintage: 1605 Haight Street, San Francisco
2. Love Street Vintage: 1506 Haight Street, San Francisco
3. Wallflower: 1176 Valencia Street, San Francisco
4. Sunchild's Parlour: 1665 Haight Street, San Francisco
5. Decades of Fashion: 1653 Haight Street, San Francisco
6. Static Vintage: 1764 Haight Street, San Francisco
7. no. : 389 Valencia Street, San Francisco
8. Painted Bird: 1360 Valencia Street, San Francisco
9. Held Over: 1543 Haight Street, San Francisco
10. Community Thrift Store: 623 Valencia Street, San Francisco (stock was pretty sparse, but definitely worth checking out for the odd handful of designer pieces if brand names are what you look for when shopping.
11. Goodwill: 1700 Haight Street, San Francisco
12. Moon zoom: 1630 W San Carlos St, San Jose
5. SUSTAINABLE BRANDS
1. REFORMATION: We were lucky to visit San Francisco when we did last year as the Reformation store on Valencia street had been newly opened. If you haven't heard of Reformation, they're a US brand tackling the issue of sustainability without compromising style. They're transparent in how they go about business and are the first to admit they're not perfect, but are going to lengths to not only operate the best they can, but also use as many sustainable fibres as possible. Their focus is on e-commerce and having few retail stores which means operating this way uses 30% less energy than having multiple stores and wholesalers. They source their raw materials locally to have a supply chain that is as sustainable as possible, making sure to put the environment at the forefront. They used recycled paper hangers, reusable tote bags and promote conscious washing on their care labels.
We had a play in their latest store and were so impressed with their interactive set up. You have access to a touch screen TV to create a change room, which adjusts stock levels through their system - so if you're online shopping, you don't run the risk of ordering something that actually isn't available because it updates straight away. They have USB outlets in the change rooms so you can charge your phone and listen to music at the same time and four light settings, so you can adjust as you see fit. Say goodbye to awful department room lighting!
2. NOOWORKS: This is a brand that works with local artists to produce one of a kind pieces that are made in California - these collaborations focus on cool printed, colourful illustrations and cuts that compliment the female form. Nooworks is a women made and owned business.
6. FOUR BARELL COFFEE
We visited the very sought after 'Four Barell Coffee' shop on a busy Saturday morning - and it lived up to our expectations. We forgot to pack our reusable coffee cup, so this was the first time in about 4 years we've used a takeaway coffee cup - we're not perfect either, but wanted to make sure we documented the slip up so we can acknowledge it and move on to doing better next time!