Noe Valley Voice May 2008

Store Trek

By Lorraine Sanders

Store Trek is a regular feature of the Noe Valley Voice, profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a children's clothing shop at Church and 24th streets, and the newly opened neighborhood outpost of AAA, on 24th Street near Noe.

1195A Church Street at 24th Street

Noe Valley's young and stylish have cause for celebration: A shop called Mabuhay has opened in the old Petits Ninous space near the corner of Church and 24th streets with a colorful assortment of toys, clothing, and gifts for children sizes newborn through 6T.

"It's always been my dream to have a boutique in Noe Valley," says owner Camille Nelson Seiberling, who grew up in San Francisco and graduated from Immaculate Conception Academy on 24th Street. "When I noticed the market rising--with the recall of toys from China--for safe, eco-friendly toys, I knew that's what I wanted to offer."

But Seiberling's newfound venture--whose name, pronounced "mah-boo-hi," means "long life" in Filipino--is much more personal than timing the market for safe, non-toxic children's toys and apparel. Alamo Square residents Seiberling, 35, and husband Daniel Seiberling, a video game designer, 37, are the proud parents of a 9-month-old son, Griffin.

"When I had Griffin, my focus was finding healthy, stylish stuff for him," says Seiberling.

That search led her to many of the brands she now features in her shop, whose sunny yellow walls surround a decorative multi-level shelving system. There are T-shirts, onesies, and separates from independent San Francisco labels Ses Petites Mains and Glug Baby, as well as appliquéd play clothes by Oakland line Jasper Hearts Wren and cotton apparel from Seattle's Kate Quinn Organics. Wooden toys by French company Vilac share space with stuffed animals of 100 percent alpaca made by Bolivian women's cooperative I Golfini Della Nonna and one-of-a-kind, handmade softie creations by Baltimore-based Cotton Monsters.

Prices for clothing, toys, and gifts range from $5 to $120--for the wooden Vilac toy car that is currently on display in the front window. A gift registry is in the works.

Prior to becoming a parent and opening the boutique, Seiberling spent six years teaching art and drama to kids through the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center's after-school program. At the same time, she parlayed a stint as a landscape designer into her own business growing and designing orchid arrangements for residential clients.

"I think I've always felt like I had an eye for design," she says.

But Mabuhay does more than satisfy Seiberling's love of design.

"You have to have passion for whatever it is that you do, and I have a passion for this."

Mabuhay is open Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

California State Automobile Association (CSAA)
4045 24th Street, Suite A

Noe Valleyans, please note: AAA's array of automobile and travel services may be within walking distance of your home. On April 19, the Noe Valley Branch Office of the California State Automobile Association, the state affiliate of the American Automobile Association, officially opened to the public after a ribbon-cutting ceremony complete with raffle prizes and giveaways.

The local branch is the city's sixth office to open as a result of the closing of the main Civic Center location, which opened in 1925 and was the city's only CSAA branch for 82 years.

"What the members said they wanted was neighborhood offices," explains David Grech, sales manager for Noe Valley's new 12-person branch.

Instead of a main location servicing the whole city, the CSAA now offers full-service neighborhood branches--in Noe Valley, Potrero Hill, the Richmond District, the Marina, the Financial District, and Lake Merced. The Noe Valley branch, situated in the block of 24th Street between Noe and Castro streets, shares the former Rite Aid space with the recently relocated Wells Fargo Bank. Services offered include AAA memberships (starting at $54/year), car insurance, DMV registration renewal and ownership transfers, passport photos, road maps, and travel and tour arrangements. Appointments are available to those who want them, but walk-ins are always welcome.

The local office may be similar in services to the other San Francisco branches, but the Noe Valley outpost has taken at least one step the others haven't.

"One of the unique things about this branch is that we decided to join the Noe Valley Merchants Association. That's probably one of the most important things for us," says Kent Evans, Bay Area business manager for CSAA.

To celebrate its arrival in the neighborhood, the branch donated $10 to the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association for every person who walked through the door of the Noe Valley location during a series of grand-opening events held April 16 to 19. With 362 visitors in four days, the donation was $3,620.

Merchants Association co-president Donna Davis says the funds will help support events like the Noel Stroll and the Noe Valley Harvest Festival. "Whatever community money we get, it just goes back into the community," says Davis.

The Noe Valley CSAA office is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.