CHLOE WARNER MAKES A RAINBOW CONNECTION … ZEM’S KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL … NEWLYWEDS AND THEIR LOFTY AMBITIONS.
Edited by Leilani Labong
Paxton Gate owner Sean Quigley starts kidding around.
CLAUDE SHADE; STYLIST: RACHEL ESTERLINE
est you believe that Sean Quigley’s new emporium of vintage toys, children’s books and interactive games has anything to do with creating a legacy for his newborn daughter, we suggest rethinking your presumption. “The idea for a children’s store was conceived before she was conceived,” says Quigley, 42, who opened Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids this past December not two blocks from the main store on Valencia Street, in the former New College building. “I’ve always wanted to open a children’s store. I think it stems from this vision I have of a retirement spent whittling wooden toys for my grandchildren.” (Cue collective sigh.) The new space puts a G-rated twist on Paxton Gate’s slightly morbid, neo-Victorian, taxidermalicious brand. Life-size trees with branches of spiraling nautical rope fill the cavernous, 1,500-squarefoot space; vintage Structo fire trucks are placed on pedestals; Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes and Freaky Flora are shelved in the story corner; and puppets of all sorts hang on the walls, including an old French marionette that Quigley admits is “cute and scary at the same time.” While some may argue that Curiosities’ vaguely morose inventory may induce the occasional nightmare, we’d claim, based on the increasing popularity of Paxton Gate’s peculiar offerings over the last 16 years, that it’s actually the stuff of dreams. Surely Quigley’s destiny as San Francisco’s prince of oddities was a foregone conclusion, just by virtue of his hopeful 1989 arrival here— to the bright lights, big city—from a sleepy Northern California ghost town called Happy Valley. “My dad asked me five or six years ago, ‘You’re probably not moving back, are you?’” The elder Quigley had been concerned that the retail business wasn’t proving lucrative for his son, since, up until 2004, the Mission District resident had had to supplement his diminutive Paxton Gate salary by slinging drinks at Doctor Bombay’s, Casanova and Kilowatt. “He was sweet for asking, but I knew the day I got here that I was never leaving.” —Leilani Labong Y’s by Yohji Yamamoto cotton button-down shirt ($355), Harputs Made in San Francisco wool plaid jacket ($450), Junya Watanabe for Comme des Garçons indigo slouch-waist jeans ($215) and Y’s by Yohji Yamamoto black leather laceless sneaker ($340), all at Harputs Market, 415-923-9300.
2 0 0 9 F E B RUA RY
TOY STORY Beneath one of Curiosities’ signature trees, Sean Quigley reads from Little Nemo by early 20thcentury cartoonist, Winsor McCay, while a vintage fire truck and shadow puppet stand guard. Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids 766 Valencia St. 415-252-9990 paxtongate.com/kids FOR AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO VALENCIA STREET, VISIT 7x7.COM.
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