Noe Valley Voice December-January 2006

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular feature of the Voice, profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a children's clothing store next door to ForBeadin' on Church Street, and a mortgage and real estate brokerage on the corner of Clipper and Church streets.

Les Petits Ninous Urban Bébéwear
1195A Church Street at 24th Street

In late September, a chic little children's boutique, Les Petits Ninous Urban Bébéwear, opened in the postage-stamp-sized space vacated this summer by Rosa Goes Shopping, at Church and 24th streets. The proprietor of the new store, Fatima Moore, is a former Noe Valley resident and expectant mother.

"I know this community well, and I can remember stores that used to be here like Lit'l Lizards and Little Bean Sprouts," says Moore, 31, in her French-inflected accent. "They carried kids' clothes with an edge, and that's what interests me." (Lit'l Lizards continues to operate within Walkershaw Clothing on Castro Street.)

Like the other two shops, Les Petits Ninous features several local designers, such as San Francisco diaper-bag maven Susanne Maddux (her sophisticated bags sell for $165); the Sunset District's Baby Leo, known for his cozy baby blankets ($70); and popular California clothier Toni Tierney, whose non-frilly dresses go for about $50. There are funky sock-shoes called Oh Five! ($36), designed by a mom in Orinda and made in Brazil; Rockin' Baby slings ($77) that have zippers rather than Velcro and come in an array of psychedelic prints; and Noppies ($21 to $35), soft cotton play clothes for newborns, made by a Dutch company that specializes in earth tones. "I'm trying to go beyond the standard blue and pink," Moore says of her inventory.

For older kids, up to age 10, there are cool rock-concert T-shirts from bands like AC/DC that have been re-sewn with cashmere sleeves ($66). Parents who share the tastes of Hollywood's Gwyneth Paltrow will find bath products by Noodle & Boo--lotions are $14, baby wash is $12, and diaper ointment $17.50.

The tiny store doesn't feel overly crowded, even though Moore has no onsite storage (she keeps some inventory in her Sunset District home). She painted the walls a pale yellow, cleaned the dark hardwood floors, and added shelving from Ikea ("My best friend," she laughs) and furniture samples from Pottery Barn.

Moore, whose husband Corey helps her run the shop, was born in Casablanca, Morocco, grew up in Paris, France, and came to the United States 10 years ago. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a business degree while working as a "family assistant" for a Pacific Heights family. That job, which she still holds part-time, entails caring for the family's three kids, teaching them French, and helping out with organizational tasks.

The shop's name comes from a nickname her charges call her. "It translates to 'little cutie,'" she explains. Moore's own little ninou is due to arrive in mid-April. She's not sure if she'll want to find out if it's a girl or a boy in advance, although she'll certainly have plenty of bébé clothes to choose from.

Les Petits Ninous is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

--Olivia Boler

McGuire Real Estate
100 Clipper Street at Church Street

Whether the overall housing market is heating up or cooling down, Noe Valley will always be desirable to Donald Woolhouse, broker associate at McGuire Real Estate's newest office.

Located in the storefront formerly occupied by Noe Valley Computers at the corner of Clipper and Church streets, the brokerage opened for business Oct. 2. Woolhouse, who has been in the real estate profession for over 35 years but just joined McGuire to head up the new office, is thrilled both with the company and its location. He lives at 20th and Church streets. "I spend most of my time in the area and look forward to more involvement in our community," he says, noting that his new workplace "was a speakeasy for the community at one point; hence, the benches and storage area in the front."

Woolhouse and his staff, which includes agents Jito Garcia and Erin McCoin, say visitors will be comfortable in their light, airy space with its creamy yellow walls. They themselves enjoy gazing through their ample office windows at the eager patrons lining up at Lovejoy's Tea Room and the assortment of strollers and dog walkers who come and go on Church Street. "There is a lot of excitement in the area," Woolhouse says. "The business owners on Church Street are setting up to get resources in the area to keep businesses more organized and support the neighborhood."

Established in 1919, McGuire is a mid-sized, regional "boutique" firm that is both a real estate and mortgage brokerage. While it specializes in luxury real estate, the company emphasizes that it is successful because it applies the same standards of excellence to properties in all price ranges and for clients with small or large budgets.

As for whether this is an opportune time to open a new real estate office, Alex McJunkin, McGuire's director of marketing, says, "Today's market gives buyers and sellers a more equal opportunity to negotiate, providing a lot of opportunity for buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines to finally step into the game. Buyers now have a chance to take their time to make decisions.... It is also a great time to trade up, as you are buying in a more static market rather than a pressure cooker of increasing values."

McJunkin adds that Noe Valley is a highly desirable neighborhood with a unique character and fairly fixed number of homes, which means the "demand is high, while the supply is very restricted. Noe Valley is also about community, and McGuire is all about the communities of San Francisco."

Woolhouse points out that McGuire's size brings advantages to customers. "We bring in buyers from all over the Bay Area, and our larger network of other companies gives us the national experience of knowledge and marketing to our clients."

The office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

--Laura McHale Holland