For two friends, the opening of Anthophile—a new vintage and flower shop that opened last month at 611 Hyde St. (between Geary and Post)—is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
Four years ago, Ellie Bobrowski and Meryll Cawn met in the San Francisco bar community. The two bonded over their shared backgrounds in design and interest in collecting vintage wares.
The two friends have kicked around the idea of opening a flower/vintage shop in the Tenderloin since August 2016, when Cawn quit her job in sales at a start-up.
But until they learned about the space at 611 Hyde earlier this year, their dream remained just that. Once they saw the space, they jumped on the opportunity, signing a lease the very next day.
Both women have a connection to the neighborhood: Bobrowski lives here and says it's the home she has been looking for since leaving Texas several years ago. Cawn lives in the East Bay but works as a bartender at the Hi Lo Club on Polk Street, just a few blocks away from the new store.
The new shop offers vintage goods and accessories along with floral arrangements. Bobrowski regularly goes to Texas to buy wares for the store, and also delivers handcrafted floral arrangements across the city.
The two share similar tastes, but are 10 years apart in age, so their preferences are different enough to appeal to a wider audience, Cawn said.
Along with vintage clothes and accessories, the women are working to bring new brands to the city. For some brands, Anthophile will be their first retailer in the city or in California.
The goal is to keep prices affordable for people who live in the neighborhood. Most clothing items range from $20-$60 each, and most new jewelry below $60.
Cawn is also making jewelry for the store to sell. She converts broken vintage pieces that she can pick up fairly cheaply, and she says she likes to pass that value on.
There will be some pricier items, but “we like a good bargain ourselves,” Cawn said, “we don’t want to bring stuff in that is way outside of our price range.”
“There is such great community here,” Bobrowski said. “We want to be respectful of the neighborhood and the people who live here.”
Although Cawn and Bobrowski are hoping to make Anthophile a success, that doesn't mean that they're quitting their day jobs just yet.
Both owners have other jobs to help the pay the bills: Cawn bartends at the Hi Lo Club on Polk and Bobrowski works for Intel — but they share a desire for Anthophile to become a permanent part of the neighborhood.
The two have a month-to-month lease through August, and then the option to sign a longer-term one. At that point they will reevaluate the situation and see if it's still the right spot, or if they need more room.
Previously, the space had been a men's clothing boutique, KnoxSF. After it shuttered in 2013, the space housed a number of different pop-up businesses.
“I want to make it into a destination for the neighborhood,” Bobrowski said. “Some combination of a neighborhood boutique you can find in Europe, with San Francisco flavor and a touch of Texas thrown in.”
Stop by and welcome Anthophile to the neighborhood. Its current hours are 1pm-8pm Tuesday-Friday and 11am-8pm on Saturdays, but those may change, so check out its Facebook page before you go.
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