ORIENTED TO LIFE
Three Little Shops on Judah Street
On Tuesday morning Larry and I went out looking for breakfast.
Our friend recommended we walk up Judah Street to an all organic place called Judahlicious, which was organic and delicious. They specialize in serving uniquely crafted raw and vegan cuisine with fresh juices and smoothies made to order.
Judahlicious happens to be next door to Other Avenues, a worker-owned 100% organic food co-op that was started by people who wanted to eat organic food at a time when most places to buy food were supermarkets. “Other Avenues opened its doors in 1974 by the participants of the Food Conspiracy, a grass roots organization of food buying clubs dedicated to buying and distributing wholesale food among themselves. Driven by the spirit of sustainable communities, the clubs expanded and opened over a dozen storefronts like Other Avenues, along with a large warehouse and other supporting organizations. Collectively calling themselves “The People’s Food System,” with the motto “Food for people, not for profit,” these stores thrived for over a decade and then faded away. By the 1990s most of the stores had closed their doors, but Other Avenues remains open today, preserving the legacy of the People’s Food System.” With this history, I just wanted to stop in an be in a space created by pioneering people who took food into their own hands before we had a “natural foods industry,”
The first thing I saw when I walked in the door was a rack of Maggie’s Organic Cotton Crew Socks in all kinds of bright colors (apparently these were last years colors because the reds and yellows I purchased are not on their website). I needed some socks so I bought eight pairs and I LOVE them. Though they do contain a bit of synthetic thread for structure, all the parts that touch your skin are organic cotton. They are thick and soft and cozy. I couldn’t wait to put them on my feet, and once I put them on I didn’t want to take them off.
While paying for the socks at the register, I mentioned to the clerk that I was a refugee from the fire. The next woman in line said, “Oh, have you had your coffee yet this morning? You’ve been through so much with the fire and evacuation. Let me buy you a cup of the best coffee you’ve ever had!” How could I refuse?
She let Larry and I across the street to Trouble Coffee, a quirky little place with a big story about toast. The coffee is great and strong, but the amazing thing is the cinnamon sugar toast, which is a big thick chunk of white bread with a crispy butter-cinnamon-sugar brûlée on top. Now I don’t eat things like this every day, but I ate this as a once-in-a-lifetime-refugee-treat and loved it. This woman, Lisa, wanted both of us to have coffee and toast and treats to take home. She paid for everything and made us feel so loved while we were being refugees. Read the Trouble Coffee website and see how the owner gets her community involved in her life.
As if Judahliscous and Outer Avenues and Trouble Coffee weren’t enough, as we walked out of Trouble Coffee toward Ocean Beach, the next three doors were three little shops that stunned me. Stunned me because they were so lifely and so unexpected just right there in the outer avenues of San Francisco.
The first shop was Black Bird Bookstore. Light and airy and with enough space around the books that you can actually see them. And the titles were carefully curated around lifely topics. I wanted to read every book. It’s a community bookstore with a viewpoint. And all hardcover books are 20% off list price.
The next shop was General Store, which features a “carefully curated mix of clothing, household items, books, jewelry and other small treasures from local California artists.” Everything is natural materials and handmade. There is a whole rack of the most beautiful vintage clothing for women, all in shades from beige to white. Everywhere you look there is something beautiful, and it’s all natural or vintage reclaimed materials.
And then then next shop was—ta-da!—Case for Making, which makes their own watercolor paints from all natural materials. Plus they sell their own brand of all the tools needed to make your watercolor paintings. I love love love these paints. I didn’t buy them that day because I don’t know how to use them yet, but as soon as I get a little practice, I’ll drive right back to San Francisco and get them (you can order them online). They also give workshops that “offer an alternative way to think about what a creative practice could be.” I can’t wait to attend in 2020.
If you are near or in San Francisco, come visit these shops.