Noe Valley Voice July-August 2005

Store Trek

By Laura McHale Holland

Store Trek is a regular feature of the Noe Valley Voice, profiling new shops and businesses in and around Noe Valley. This month we explore the gift shop that in mid-June took over the 24th Street space formerly occupied by A Girl and Her Dog.

Lisa Violetto

3932 24th Street between Sanchez and Noe


Lisa Violetto, a boutique that carries an eclectic mix of artisan merchandise, has moved from its Castro Street storefront to 3932 24th Street, in the bustling block between Sanchez and Noe streets.

The business, which took root in Noe Valley in 2002 and is named for co-owner Lisa Violetto, retains its second-floor studio on Castro Street, where handbags, scarves, pillow covers, jewelry, and other items designed by Violetto and her partner Judy Frangquist are made. Violetto also runs a home-staging business, Lisa Violetto Designs, with her husband Gary Taormina, from the studio.

Frangquist and Violetto moved the store to 24th Street because they wanted more foot traffic. "We were kind of tucked away there on Castro Street. A lot of people still hadn't found us. Now we're in the middle of the action, and we love it," says Violetto.

People who walk through the door enter a bright and airy shop that is chock full of everything from bags and scarves to candles and armoires. The walls are painted lavender, Violetto's signature color. New lighting and wood floors add shimmer and warmth to the store's collection of new and vintage items.

"We're just sort of brimming over with treasures that are beautifully packaged and presented. We go for the oooh factor," Violetto says as Frangquist enthusiastically nods in agreement.

The two designers stock their own creations. Violetto's one-of-a-kind handbags and totes come in 40 different fabrics and 15 shapes that change from season to season, and right now Frangquist is designing jewelry with semi-precious stones, using lots of Swarovski, an Austrian crystal that comes in a wide range of colors. Most bags sell for $59. Jewelry with faux and semi-precious stones is priced from $10 to $150; fine jewelry starts at $50.

The shop also provides custom design services.

"If someone has a purple dress and they need just the right accessories, we can make them something, and there's no additional charge for the custom work," Violetto notes.

The boutique also sells creations by other designers, including hand-painted baby T-shirts by Tricia Long, a Noe Valley mom. Other popular items include Seda France candles ($28), lavender and beach scented Good Home laundry detergent ($18), papier-mâché birthday balls loaded with "all kinds of surprises" ($15), and Tokyo Bay watches ($55 to $100).

Even some of the furniture used to display merchandise is for sale. "We have a great armoire company, and people can order things that will exactly fit the space they have, which in the city is very important. We have to make the most of our space," says Violetto. She knows: she has lived on Alvarado Street for almost 19 years. Frangquist grew up right next door.

Frangquist says the move was exhausting, but well worth it. "The response has been incredible. We have so much foot traffic. It's a lot more fun with more people to talk to, and the dog- and baby-watching on 24th Street is exceptional."

Lisa Violetto is open Sunday and Monday, noon to 5 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.