Secret Garden Meets Industrial Junkyard
701 Amador St. (at Cargo Way), 415-285-7814
There’s a surprising sense of whimsy here: A tangle of plants gives way to rows of lighting (from $40), windows (from $10), and doors (from $20). Inside, you’ll find hand-painted headboards and barrels full of colored glass shards sold by the pound (from $2).
Teacher’s Best Friend
801 Toland St. (near McKinnon Ave.), 415-647-1746
This place is as inviting as a spot ringed by barbed wire can be, with colorful tiles strung on the surrounding chain-link fence. There’s a generous section of freebies, including craft supplies and bins of metal, wood, and plastic. Due to the hawkeyed staff, the fabric aisles are impressively orderly, arranged by hue and pattern (from $2).
The Thrifter’s Holy Grail
900 Murray St. (near 7th St.), Berkeley, 510-841-7283
Mannequins and card-board cutouts on the mezzanine keep watch over the dusty array of furniture (from $30), cameras and electronics (from $15), and glassware (from 50 cents). Though the organization is haphazard (you’ll need to step over discarded kitsch), the range of merchandise is unparalleled.
Parisian Flea in Berkeley
2407 San Pablo Ave. (near Channing Way), Berkeley, 510-843-7368
The treasures here are pricier and require a little less artistic vision. Walls are lined with ornate doorknobs and Victorian fixtures (from $15), and the shop employs specialists adept at restoring historical details. Out back, you’ll find stalls containing bistro tables, chairs, and mirrors (from $25).
Hit-or-Miss Scavenger Hunt
East Bay Depot
4695 Telegraph Ave. (near 46th St.), Oakland, 510-547-6470
What you find at EBD depends on your propensity for digging. Cardboard bins are filled with oddities: post-cards, projector slides, toys, and cassettes among them (from 25 cents). The furniture includes patio items (from $30), desks (from $20), and benches (from $15).
Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco