Noe Valley Voice May 2005

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular Voice feature profiling new stores and businesses in and around Noe Valley. This month we describe a Mom and Pop store specializing in organic foods at 26th and Guerrero streets, and an antique and collectibles shop on Church Street that has recently undergone a renovation.

The Pickled Hutch

1605 Church Street at 28th Street


In 2000, Debbie Cole opened The Pickled Hutch on outer Church Street, an antique shop that has inspired a dedicated local clientele. In February, Cole handed over the reins to her manager of one-and-a-half years, Lisa Wilson. (Cole is concentrating on her successful estate sales business and other interests in Petaluma, Wilson says.)

Wilson, 44, closed the shop for five weeks to give it a facelift and reopened March 8.

"I've completely renovated the back yard, so I have more garden accessories," says the new owner. "But we still have the clothing and jewelry, soaps and candles, and the emphasis is still on the antiques and home decor. I've just opened up the variety of things we have available."

The Pickled Hutch--named after an actual hutch with a "pickled" or whitewashed finish that was the signature piece of the shop until the cupboard finally sold--is a warren of rooms, including a backyard garden with its own "cottage" and shed. During the renovation, Nader Meykadeh of Green Hands, who lives near the shop and offered his services, completely redesigned the back yard, removing the deck and replacing it with gravel, potted plants, and furniture. In total, there are eight separate spaces in store, and all are filled with items for sale.

The front room is the largest, with butter yellow walls and original Douglas fir floors. (Originally, the shop was a candy store, and the family who owned it lived in the back. Wilson sells tins of Chewy Peps candy, $16, in homage to the space's confectionary beginnings.)

The room is devoted to the biggest pieces of furniture--chairs, sofas, tables, lamps, and dressers --and also includes the new signature piece: a large black hutch with toile accents ($2,150). Wilson, a former financial coordinator who lives just three blocks from the shop on Cesar Chavez Street, refurbished the hutch in her own garage.

She views her shop as a "collective effort" of individuals, including Cole, who still sells items on consignment.

If you walk beyond the sideboards and loveseats, you'll enter two more rooms, one with vintage clothing provided by Charlene Akers, a consignment seller; and another filled with collectibles such as flowered tea sets, decorative rooster sculptures, and a 1940s vanity with stool ($350). Even the functioning bathroom is filled with chinaware for sale.

Wilson describes the furniture and knickknacks as eclectic--from country kitsch to mid-century to shabby chic. "What we emphasize are our exceptional prices," she says. She adds that antique dealers and interior decorators often come by the shop because they know they can find bargains, from an $8 glass pitcher to a $150 refurbished dresser to a $624 leather wingback chair.

The shop is also a haven for loyal locals, who pop in each week to see if anything new has arrived from the antique fairs or estate sales Wilson frequents. In addition to the antiques and collectibles, The Pickled Hutch sells Votivo candles ($21.50) and handmade cards by Mel Harrold Ink ($1.75 to $3.95).

The Pickled Hutch is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

--Olivia Boler

26th and Guerrero Market

1400 Guerrero Street at 26th Street


"My parents had a grocery and my grandparents, too. It's in the blood," says Ayda Nasser, who helps run the 26th and Guerrero Market with her cousin, Raouf Nasser, owner and proprietor.

"In the old country?" I say, pointing east.

"Oh yes, back, back..." She waves her hand and looks in the same direction. "Way back. In a different time."

Clearly, the family penchant for storekeeping has remained strong in the 20 years since Ayda left Birzeit, Palestine, to come to America.

The 26th and Guerrero Market, which opened in November 2004, is a bright, clean, and richly stocked corner grocery. Outside the front door, a column in muted but colorful tiles draws the eye upward toward an oval sign decorated with a whimsical, buzzing bumblebee. Inside, one's attention focuses on the abundant display of fresh fruits and vegetables and neat rows of canned and packaged goods, reminiscent of the dear, departed Mikeytom or Real Food Company (though the store is much smaller).

You can buy a carton of milk or a quart of Arak, a loaf of fresh Acme herb bread or a bag of Philippa's Love Bites cookies ($3.89). Thanksgiving Coffee in bulk or can runs $9.29 a pound, and there's a large selection of herb teas including the popular Rooibus. The well-stocked liquor shelves offer moderately priced Ficklin Tinta Port or an extravagant bottle of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin champagne. There are also emergency-standby supplies, from Kashi cereal to Pedigree dog food to Kleenex. Paul Newman fans can find a wide selection of Newman's Own dressings ($4.29), snacks, and spaghetti sauces. And 90 percent of the store's produce is organic.

"Yes," Ayda says, "people shop here for our organic fruits and vegetables. They sell quickly."

Organic red chard, basil, carrots, bok choy, lettuce, apples, lemons, even organic tomatoes and avocados fill up two large bins. Prices are reasonable (organic avocados, $2.29; organic bananas, 99 cents a pound). You can buy the New York Times in a stand next to the counter or pick up the Noe Valley Voice under the coffee beans.

There is a sample box of honey bread on the counter, so my mouth is full when Ayda asks, "Do you want to know what Birzeit means?" I smile and nod. "It means 'well of oil,'" she says. "We had lots of olive trees there, long ago, and our water came from wells. When the crop of olives was too huge, they'd store the excess olive oil in the wells."

Ayda, who lives in Daly City, says Raouf, who lives in the Mission, chose to locate the store close to Noe Valley because "it's a very nice corner, very nice area, very nice people, all together very nice."

You can shop at 26th and Guerrero Market until 9 p.m. seven days a week. The store opens at 8 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends.

-- Doug Konecky