Haight Street Starts Fall With a Pair of New Stores

Despite all the store closures across the city, there are still folks trying to tap into the San Francisco retail game. In September, Haight Street got two stores worth noting: Sabah House in the Lower Haight and Cary Lane in the Upper Haight.

After a string of successful pop-ups around town, Sabah set down roots in a permanent brick-and-mortar location at 663 Haight Street, in the former Nectar spot. The six-year-old brand specializes in handmade Turkish slippers, but describes its new San Francisco home as “a tea bar, a Sabah shop, a backyard oasis, a Wabi Sabah Solarium, our house and your house.” And just in case that “shop” description got lost in the shuffle, yes, you can buy ridiculously comfortable shoes there.

A few blocks west in the Upper Haight, Cary Lane took over the former American Apparel storefront (1615 Haight Street) in September, bringing its sample-sale store vibe to the ‘hood. Cary Lane still has locations on Valencia and 9th Avenue selling “designer” pieces at discount prices, but the Haight Street store is now carrying the mantle of the former Hayes Valley store. (For what it’s worth, the neon-and-art-filled atmosphere on Haight Street is an upgrade from the subterranean Hayes Valley digs.)

If you’ve yet to shop at Cary Lane, it’s worth a stop. While the company hypes the design-for-less line, go in expecting Free People and Kelsi Dagger, not Chanel and Prada. The stores also have a healthy selection of premium denim, like Raleigh and Rag & Bone. Pricing rarely tops $100, so it’s a smart solution when you want a new outfit, but you don’t want to buy into the Zara/H&M/Forever 21 fast-fashion machine.

Haight Street has gone through a number of retail personalities over the years. It was the land of tie-dye and head shops, then it became skater row, and now it’s turning to a mixed retail vibe of moderately-priced fashion and festival wear, with a Top Drawer stationery shop thrown it for good measure. The only constant is the abundance of vintage and resale, though a few of the long-term vintage tenants have been driven off the corridor by rent hikes in the last five years.

Are Sabah House and Cary Lane the first wave of a retail renaissance on Haight Street? We’re crossing our fingers that this pair can thrive and lure more retailers to the neighborhood.