Among the store-on-every-corner standout shopping of San Francisco, Lavish looms large. Not that this gift boutique, located in the hip, up-and-coming Hayes Valley, is the biggest store on the block, or the most expensive or outlandish. But what this petite powerhouse lacks in size it more than makes up for in spirit—and quirky, laugh-out-loud giftables.
Lavish, now owned by Nicole Bald, was founded in 2003 by entrepreneur Elizabeth Leu (who also owns Fiddlesticks, a children’s boutique just a few doors down from Lavish). Nicole originally worked at Lavish as a sales associate and later a buyer, where she developed her incredible eye for color and detail. When Elizabeth decided to sell the store in 2009, she went straight to recent college grad Nicole. Despite the economic downturn, Nicole was energized by the idea of taking the plunge into business ownership.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing, especially in the early years, but once the bumps began to flatten out, Lavish flourished, with Nicole making over the shop in her own feminine, playful, vintage-inspired, uber-colorful design aesthetic. These days, Lavish is the type of store that makes you smile—from the moment you walk in under the electric-pink doorway till long after you’ve left (hopefully with bag of goodies in tow). This is thanks to a mix of clothing, books, journals, cards, wrapping paper, candles, soap, travel items, and all sorts of other gifts, all curated in ever-changing store displays that tell a distinct color story.
Lavish sells a variety of items from larger brands like Rifle Paper Co. stationery, Roost home décor, and Orla Kiely accessories, plus dozens of giftable gems from indie accessories designer Petel, T-shirt maker Anna Bruce, and couture chocolates from jcoco. The phrase something for everyone might very well have been invented for Lavish, where the merchandising is as fun as the items themselves. We could easily spend an entire day in this adult playground, going giddy over the adorable garden accessories, cheeky journals and note cards, and color-happy scarves and bags. And we’d still want to come back for more.
The next time you’re in San Francisco, spend an afternoon shopping and snacking in Hayes Valley. Just make sure you leave plenty of time to explore the wonders of Lavish. Then come back here and tell us what you bought.