Photo courtesy of Alameda Flea Market
Transforming the worn-out, the broken-down, the utterly useless into stuff that’s high style and cool beyond the usual do-gooder/DIYer demographic feels absolutely of the moment. Here, where to find your raw materials.
For: Frumpy old clothes just waiting to be reinvented
Head to: Thrift Town (2101 Mission St., S.F., 415-861-1132) and Mission Thrift (2330 Mission St., S.F., 415-821-9560).
The downside: These legendary stores are packed with crafters with the same idea as you, so you have to go early and often.
For: The detritus of daily existence
Head to: East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse (4695 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-547-6470) and Scroungers’ Center for Reusable Art Parts, aka SCRAP (801 Toland St., S.F., 415- 647-1746, scrap-sf.org). These two stores—thrift shop/indoor junkyards—with ever-changing inventories and low, low prices—are where broken crayons, Styrofoam meat trays, not-quite-used-up wrapping paper, and all the other stuff normal people throw out find new life as fodder for cash-strapped artists and schoolteachers. donations welcome.
For: Unwanted fabric swatches
Head to: Fabmo (fabmo.org). This mountain view nonprofit collects samples from interior design houses and other sources and sells them at monthly events.
For: College-dorm castoffs
Head to: End-of-term bins near UC Berkeley (Durant Ave. and College Ave., Durant Ave. and Dana St.), California College of the Arts in Oakland (Clifton St. and Broadway), and SFSU (Holloway Ave. and Font Blvd.). But the competition among dumpster-diving pros is intense, so sharpen your elbows.
For: Scrap metal and leather
Head to: Pick-n-Pull junkyard (8451 San Leandro St., Oakland, 510-729-7010). don’t be surprised if you run into Platinum dirt’s dustin Page: “I go in there and rip out 10 to 20 seats in a day.”
For: Doors, windows, and other home-renovation rejects
Head to: Urban Ore (900 murray St., Berkeley, 510-841-7283), whose 30,000-square-foot store adjacent to the salvage yard is a trove of surprisingly not-junky furniture and kitchenware. Also check out Building Resources (701 Amador St., S.F., 415- 285-7814) and the Away Station (109 Broadway, Fairfax, 415-453-4221).
For: Same as above, except from mansions
Head to: Ohmega Salvage (2400 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-204-0767)
For: Mellowed old lumber
Head to: Heritage Salvage (1473 Petaluma Blvd. S., Petaluma, 707-762-6277). “They usually have a backstory about where the wood came from and what condition they found it in,” says Joseph Ferriso of Anzfer Farms.
For: Flea-market bargains
Head to: The Alemany Flea market (100 Alemany Blvd., S.F., 415-647-2043) on a weekend when the much vaster Alameda or Treasure Island market is also happening. On those days, the Alemany sellers tend to be amateurs cleaning out Grandma’s attic—ripe for the picking.
For: Shards of safety glass
Head to: SoMa on a Sunday morning. Kyra Brown, who makes belt buckles from found material, scavenges window glass from car burglaries in her neighborhood: “Each break-in yields about three pounds.”
For: Almost anything
Head to: Mom’s garage. Vintage stuff galore, and everything she saves is bound to be in decent condition.
More on San Francisco magazine's website: