Saturday, January 30, 2010

The store windows of Sausalito

Sausalito is Marin’s leading tourist-oriented retail destination. While towns like Tiburon and Mill Valley have one or two stores that cater to visitors, the downtown Sausalito area is bursting at the seams with a cornucopia of gift shops, leisurewear boutiques and art galleries.

Walking around Sausalito, you can’t help but be impressed by the sheer variety of merchandise that people must feel compelled to purchase while on their vacations. Sausalito caters to every taste, from the arty (retro sports photographs at the Mark Reuben Gallery) to the artsy (glass guitar sculptures at Petris Gallery) and the artistic (porcelain figurines, everywhere). And while many of the goods on offer can be generously described as hideous, you have to admire the manner in which they are displayed: Sausalito provides an excellent lesson in the art of shop window dressing.

In order to grab the attention of the wandering tourist, it seems the most important tactic is to make eye contact. To do this you will need a multitude of assistants, preferably small, cute, humorous or simply gorgeous. Arrange these assistants in your shop widow in small coordinated groups and in no time the store will be swamped by Germans, Canadians, Taiwanese and the like.

Today’s photo essay pays tribute to the window display artists of Sausalito, and the little armies of people, creatures and things that stare back at you from inside almost every store.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New leases signed, and others refused

It looks like fans of Peets Coffee will miss out on having a local outlet in Sausalito after the City voted 3-2 to refuse the zoning change required to locate a store on Bridgeway in the town. Despite being a Bay Area operation, Peets is considered "formula retail" because of the number of outlets it has; and chain retailers are banned from the waterside part of downtown Sausalito.

It's good to see local retailers expanding to new outlets in Marin. New leases have been taken in Novato for the Rustic Bakery at 1407 Grant Avenue and Stefano's Pizzeria at the Nave Shopping Center. The Rustic Bakery will be opening their second Marin location (the original bakery & cafe is on Magnolia Avenue, north of Larkspur), while Stefano's will be opening their third store, adding to their existing outlets in Mill Valley and Corte Madera.

Another new eatery expanding in the Novato area is Boca Pizzeria and Wine Bar, which has signed a lease at the renovated Pacheco Plaza. It's an interesting location choice by the owners of Boca Steak and Seafood, who must not be worried about opening a competing restaurant just around the corner from their existing eatery on Ignacio Boulevard.

In Mill Valley, crafts fans can look forward to February 1st, which is when Once Around will (finally) open their doors on Miller Avenue.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Missing in action

I can't believe that this blog has been around for almost two years and there remain several retail places that I've yet to feature. So here's my top 10 target list for 2010:
  1. Sausalito (a) Bridgeway & (b) Caledonia Street
  2. Marin City
  3. Downtown Mill Valley
  4. Downtown Tiburon
  5. Corte Madera Old Town Square
  6. Magnolia Avenue in Larkspur/Kentfield
  7. East San Rafael / Montecito Plaza
  8. San Rafael to San Anselmo (4th Street)
  9. South San Rafael / Bellam & Andersen
  10. Terra Linda / Scotty's
Any other requests?