Unique Shopping in Sausalito
When I brought my fiancée home to meet my parents and see Marin, one of the first places I took her was downtown for lunch and window shopping in Sausalito. We had to stick to window shopping since we were fresh college grads with student loans to repay, but we still had a great time.
Yes, there are a few tourist souvenir places here, but they are the exception, not the typical storefront. In this article I’ll share a number of unique places I love to visit.
If any of the stores we mention here are paid advertisers or sponsors of OurSausalito.com all such relationships will be mentioned. The list below is sorted by Sausalito neighborhoods.
Sausalito Ferry Company — Yes, they do sell ferry Clipper Cards here, but that’s the name behind which their secret identity lies! This is a hidden gem in Sausalito. People walk by the window and assume it’s a cross between a novelty store and a souvenir shop, but they’re wildly wrong. It’s one of the most diverse tiny toy shops I’ve ever encountered. If there were such a thing as a zillion varieties of something I think they’d have it. They also have Japanese imports and anime style items.
Games People Play — From the outside I think people sometimes mistake this place and think it’s just another tourists shop. It’s definitely not, and the best way to describe it as a book store, educational store, keep from getting bored on long trips store, toy store and game store. I go in here all the time to find small fun items for the kids.
Venice Gourmet has been operating in Sausalito for about 50 years. This shop is what you’d get if you crossed a classy deli with a wine shop with a boutique cooking-gadgets-and-decor-store. Every time I come here for a sandwich I’m vulnerable to falling in love with some new tool or exotic treat. Not every visit yields a new gem, but I have no idea what they’ll have in there the next time I walk in. That — and the Italian House Special Sandwich served by really nice people — are what keep me coming back.
Driver’s Market — This spot on Caledonia was the location of a natural foods store for many years, and when that business closed there was a spontaneous wave of support from the community for a similar small locally-owned organics-focused “alternative to big box Whole Foods” store in the same location. The result was Driver’s, which is a cross between a modern farm-to-table food store and a throwback community gathering spot.
KARL The Store — This friendly new shop features unique vintage items as well as new ones, and I love to drop in and see what’s new. You’ll see books, gifts, décor, furniture, jewelry… and something that I didn’t manage to include in all those examples. They also sell wonderful hand-made pies if you’re lucky enough to go in before they’ve all sold out!
Salty — A unique California lifestyle store, with curated items based on their values of being close to nature, beautiful, practical… and being sustainably sourced, re-used, rescued and/or up-cycled. Every time I walk in here I see something cool that surprises me, and the service (and design wisdom) is warm and welcoming.
Studio 333 — This entrepreneurial operation is part antique store, part art gallery, part bead and jewelry store, part ephemera shop, and the discoveries you make here can be very interesting. A number of part time and full time dealers show their wares here, and on different days you´ll see very different ítems.
Waterstreet Hardware — Water St. is a Sausalito institution, and since they´re part of the Ace Hardware network the prices are held down by the volume purchasing power of that retail group. This store is not very big, but they somehow pack an immense variety of hardware, home and even kitchen items into that small space. Adults who grew up in Sausalito remember the coin super-glued to the front doorstep, which many a child tried to pick up. A full-sized statue of a grizzled prospector still guards the front door.