Whether it’s an old tennis racket cover snipped and sewn into a wallet or an abandoned Richmond District storefront transformed into a bastion of handmade goods, craftsman-turned-shopkeeper Alissa Anderson has a knack for making something lovely out of something nobody seems to want.

The seed for Foggy Notion, Anderson’s year-old shop and studio space in the Richmond, was planted more than a decade ago. Originally from the Boston area, Anderson made a name here selling reconstructed T-shirts at local fashion events—before the days of now-standard San Francisco craft fairs. Ten years later, it was time to turn her online Etsy store into a tangible reality. For six of the eight years she has lived in the Richmond, the storefront of a mini mall–type building across from her home had been vacant. “I was scoping it out, staring through the windows, and an elderly man who turned out to be the landlord shuffled up and jokingly asked if I wanted to rent the space,” Anderson recalls. The rent was so reasonable that she immediately signed up for a class at Workshop called “How to Open a Brick and Mortar Business” with retail consultant and Rare Device founder Rina Tom. “A lot of people in the class were saying things like, ‘I want to open a coffee shop someday,’” Anderson continues. “I said, ‘I need to open a store in three weeks.’”

One month later, Foggy Notion opened. Slightly off the beaten path of grocery store–heavy Clement Street, it still copes with the challenges of its location and context. Many customers remark that they “wouldn’t expect a shop like this to be in the Richmond.” As Anderson wonders aloud what “like this” means, one look around the 280-square-foot room reveals the shop’s mission statement: Most things here used to be something else.

Mason jar soap dispensers and Pendleton blanket iPad covers sit alongside items from Anderson’s Mitten Maker line: Pampero Rum bags–turned–change purses, antique military duffels–turned–shopping totes, even purses made from old furniture. Anderson is a deerstalker, of sorts: “I go hunting for leather couches.”

Of the eco-friendly, handmade, and wild-crafted ilk, items from beloved local lines blend seamlessly with the repurposed goods. Lining the flea market–sourced wooden boxes Anderson uses for display are lip balms by Captain Blankenship, indigo-dyed totes by Job & Boss, minimalist jewelry by Valerian, air plants by Keith Aderholdt, essential oils by Juniper Ridge, body care by Nieves, plus records from the vinyl collection of her partner, Vetiver frontman Andy Cabic.

To create a backdrop aesthetically aligned with the shop’s carefully curated selection, Anderson enlisted skilled friends to remodel it into a microcosm of San Francisco’s DIY landscape. Jordan Levantini of Last Ave Amps installed vintage pendant lights and knocked down display walls to increase window visibility. Local builder Drew Bennett (you can see his work at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen and Goorin Bros. hat shop) used recycled wood to make the counter, cabinets, and a modular shelving system that can be moved around for display variation. Wanting to create “a natural vibe” in the bare-bones space, Anderson and Bennett replaced all the tired acoustic tiles in the ceiling with plywood.

Now filled with leather, wool, soaps, and candles, the once-empty shop’s aroma welcomes passersby into a warm, unexpected sanctuary. Many vacant spaces are still available in the building, bursting with potential. Anderson hopes to pay forward the inspiration she got from the opening of Park Life Gallery and attract more local artisans, craftsmen, curators, shop-owners, builders, and dreamers to turn this space into a Richmond District DIY-shopping mecca.

FOGGY NOTION 275 6th Ave Ste. 101, San Francisco

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This article was published in:
Music Issue - Released January 2013
Issue 1 / Version 3 | Buy print copy here
Issue 11
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