Noe Valley Voice July-August 1997

Store Trek

By Anne Gates

This month's Storetrek, the Voice's regular new store guide, features two new enterprises -- one offering karate classes for kids, and another selling antique furniture and collectibles.

Empty Hands
1500 Castro St. (at 25th)

In a new business called Empty Hands -- meaning without weapons -- Dave Marshall is teaching kids how to defend themselves in a fun, safe way. His kenpo karate school for children 6 to 14 opened in February, in a sunny studio space at Purely Physical Fitness on Castro Street.

Kenpo karate is a combination of Chinese and Japanese martial arts, with a focus on "street" self-defense. "The movements are akin to kick-boxing, with an added flair," says Marshall. "But compared to other forms of karate, kenpo is more functional and less artistic," he adds.

There are currently 16 students at Empty Hands, three of them girls. "It would be terrific to have more girls in the class," says Marshall. He prefers not to formally separate the class into age groups or levels of ability, although sometimes he'll briefly group students into smaller teams.

Classes are held three times a week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. Marshall recommends that students attend two classes a week, although the price remains the same per month ($80) whether the students come once, twice, or three times a week. A sibling discount is available.

Marshall has lived in Noe Valley for more than 20 years and has a black belt in karate. He also gives private karate lessons to children and adults. He notes that one-on-one lessons can be a good idea for shy beginners.

A parents' open house is planned for mid-October, but interested students and their parents need not wait until then. "It's very important that kids understand the difference between real self-defense and what they see on TV," says Marshall.

Call Empty Hands at 824-6063 for more information.

3915A 24th St. (at Sanchez)

Gail and Jonathan Gonick-Hallows opened their eclectic antique shop, Ecollectic, in the Noe Valley Mall (behind Savor Restaurant) on May 31. The store has peach and yellow sponge-painted walls and is full of furniture, housewares, and knickknacks, mostly from the '50s.

Gail Gonick-Hallows describes the shop's inventory as "nontraditional," and indeed it is hard to pin down any one style or specialty. Distressed metal and wood boxes of all sizes sell for $1 to $90. Wrought-iron or wire plant stands and record holders are priced from $15 to $50. And vintage sunglasses from the '60s and '70s run $25 a pair.

The store doesn't sell clothing, but offers an assortment of antique jewelry, cups and coffeepots, ceramic whisky bottles, cookie jars, old maps, and mirrors -- not to mention an ancient tube of Brylcream. There's even an original pink Jacuzzi, a blender-size device that sits in the bathtub and makes bubbles. "It's more for show than for actual use," laughs Gail.

She and her husband wanted a family business, so they've created a play room for their 1-year-old son, Kale, above the store. The family used to live in Noe Valley but now reside in the Sunset near the beach. "We knew that we liked Noe Valley," says Gail, "and it's a good place for children."

Most of Ecollectic's inventory comes from garage sales, flea markets, and estate sales in the area. But the store also buys collectibles and furniture from individuals. Customers are welcome to bring in their chatchkes. However, the shop will be closed from June 25 to July 8, while the owners go to England on a buying trip. "We're coming back with goodies!" promises Gail.

Normal hours are noon to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.