Noe Valley Voice March 2008

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular feature of the Noe Valley Voice, profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a comic-book, record, and toy shop at Castro and 22nd streets, and a new pediatric clinic at the corner of 29th and Church.

Neon Monster

901 Castro Street at 22nd Street


Look out, Noe Valley. There's a monster in the neighborhood. Luckily, this newcomer is neither an evil boogeyman nor a grumpy hobgoblin.

Neon Monster, which opened its doors on Nov. 7 in Rx Unlimited pharmacy's old spot, is more concerned with all things bright and colorful. The airy shop houses an eclectic collection of comic books, graphic novels, designer toys, and records, handpicked by owners John Crowe, Jacob Pritzker, and Isaac Pritzker.

But don't expect to see cramped shelves or dusty bins, the kind found at comic-book shops of yesteryear.

"We're more of a boutique model. We're more into the cream of the crop," explains Crowe, a painter and sculptor who relocated to San Francisco from Denver in September along with marketing director and self-described "shop girl" Kristy Klinck. Crowe, Klinck, and their pals hatched the idea for the store during a snowboarding trip.

In Neon Monster, cases lined with limited-edition toys are mounted on wheels so the space can be quickly transformed into a venue for art openings, which the owners hope to hold every other month.

Comic books--which publishers release each Wednesday and the store tries to have on the shelves by 11 a.m.--line one wall. Popular new releases ($2 to $3) include Marvel Comics' Amazing Spider-Man and DC Comics' kid-friendly Tiny Titans series.

The store's central display offers indie, rare, and vintage comics, many of which have been culled from the owners' own collections. (Crowe estimates his personal collection holds between 50,000 and 60,000 comic books.)

Klinck points out that "there are a couple of Holy Grails" in the vintage group. "We have an Amazing Spider-Man that's the very first [issue with the villain] Venom. We have Miracle Man, and I've got an early Batman No. 106 from 1957."

Prices for rare issues can top $175, but are generally lower than those listed in the Comic Buyer's Guide. "We try to price our back issues under Guide value because we want to make sure we re-circulate these issues and get them back into the world," she explains.

Klinck says the store's inventory also includes ordinary "human-interest" books, like the Minx titles Plain Janes and Confessions of a Blabbermouth ($9.99 to $12.95).

"I'm really trying to work on getting more stuff for teenage girls and young women," she says.

Toys, priced anywhere from $2.95 to $200, range from collectors' cult favorites like Kid Robot's paintable toys and Dunny boxes ($6.95 each), to limited-edition Qee figures and Gary Baseman HotChaChaCha imps.

Records are the domain of Jacob Pritzker, a longtime vinyl collector who spends his afternoons working with kids at San Francisco Day School.

"I started collecting house music in Chicago when I was deejaying, but I've steered away from that here," Pritzker says.

For now, he's chosen to focus the store's musical offerings on soul-influenced albums and retro rock, with music selections roving from Parliament to Nick Drake, Culture Club to the Police. Hip-hop and indie music are also part of the mix.

In many ways, the store is a collaborative effort among a tightly knit group of friends, artists, and Burning Man regulars. Crowe and the Pritzkers, who are brothers, built all of the store's displays and shelving, as well as a bench running the length of the front wall.

"Everybody's always working on crazy projects, so everyone comes in and uses the office. We're into that community vibe," says Crowe.

Neon Monster is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

GetzWell Pediatrics
Whole Kid Care

1701 Church Street at 29th Street


New and expecting mothers in Noe Valley now have one less doctor to go to. But lest you think we've got an impending health crisis, let's be clear. In this case, the doctor is coming to them.

One of the perks of joining the new GetzWell Pediatrics Whole Kid Care clinic, which opened in the old Curves space (and older Star Bakery space) at the corner of 29th and Church streets on Feb. 19, is a house call from Dr. Julia Getzelman herself.

While the clinic acts as the home base and site of most appointments, Getzelman and members of her team, like lactation consultant Mary Janowitz, will bring their services to patients who, for one reason or another, prefer to schedule appointments at their homes.

But that's hardly the only thing that sets GetzWell apart from the average pediatrician's office. Getzelman, a graduate of Yale Medical School who lives on 25th Street with her husband (and who recently struck out on her own after 10 years practicing at St. Luke's Hospital), has outfitted her "paperless" clinic with a state-of-the-art electronic medical records system. It allows patients to access and download their medical information via a private patient Internet portal.

A newborn baby scale sits in the clinic's hallway so mothers can weigh their children without the hassle of making a doctor's appointment. Square canvases painted with cartoon-like animals adorn the walls.

As a fee-per-service practice, the clinic does not accept insurance, but does supply patients with claim forms they may file on their own. There's also a membership fee--$150 per patient or child annually-- which caps out at $300 for families with more than two children. GetzWell promises appointments within three business days, and new patients can expect to spend an hour and a half with the doctor on their first visit.

"When you take insurance, you basically have to see a patient every 10 minutes to make the numbers work," Getzelman says.

Along with Getzelman, the clinic staff consists of part-time doctor Colleen Panina, nurse Janis Mandac-Dy, nurse and lactation consultant Janowitz, and nutritionist Leah Hanson. The team treats children up to 16 years of age. But don't assume you need to be pregnant or a parent to take advantage of the clinic's services.

"One of the goals of the practice is to catch women pre-conception. I would like to meet a woman before she conceives so she can optimize her nutrition practices," says Getzelman.

For brand-new moms, Janowitz is available to help the nursing process go smoothly.

"Our culture has gotten so far away from seeing our sisters and aunts breastfeeding around us.... In an ideal world, you'd learn from your peer group, your mother, your aunties. But we've had this disconnect," says Janowitz, who also works as a lactation consultant at St. Luke's. Interestingly, Janowitz used to live near the Harry Steps and raised her family in Noe Valley before moving to Pacifica five years ago. She fondly remembers bringing her kids to the clinic's space back when it was Star Bakery.

Since its former lives as a bakery and a fitness center, the corner storefront has been completely renovated to house the new clinic. Eco-positive materials were used in its construction, including low-VOC paint, carpets of 100 percent wool fibers, soy-based concrete stain, Marmoleum surfaces, and fluorescent light bulbs.

Dr. Getzelman will be giving two free talks this month at the parenting center Natural Resources, at 1367 Valencia Street near 25th Street. On March 9 (3 p.m.) and March 20 (11:30 a.m.), she'll discuss ways to create an optimal in-utero environment for unborn babies.

GetzWell clinic is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.