Hero Shop

Having left behind the life of a fashion editor in New York and WWD’s Eye editor, Emily Holt is establishing herself in one of San Francisco’s grittiest neighborhoods, offering her take on the retail experience with Hero Shop.

The boutique, at 982 Post Street in the Tenderloin neighborhood, quietly opened in July, but has been two years in the making. Holt sees it as a highly curated destination comparable to Colette in Paris or Ikram in Chicago.

She acknowledged that some have wondered if she’s crazy, getting into brick-and-mortar retail in the center of the tech universe. But she said wouldn’t have left Manhattan if she didn’t see enormous opportunity.

She’s aware of the risks, but is stubborn.

The store carries aspirational brands such as Adam Lippes, Creatures of the Wind and Of Rare Origin, but also displays a certain awareness of its geographic proximity to Google, Apple and Facebook — and their less-than-formal reputation. Holt, who is from nearby Los Gatos, embraces the laid-back ethos.

The tech world, and its Bay Area denizens, need not be antithetical to style or taste, and Hero Shop need not be austere.

The store carries local brands such as Tatcha, MMClay ceramics and Levi’s, in addition to Vans sneakers and “California” T-shirts from Oakland’s Never Elsewhere. Among the $5,000 Myriam Schaefer handbags, there are accessible, giftable Fishs Eddy glasses for $7.50 and a range of books. “Everyone can participate,” Holt said. “Not just if you’re size two and rich and fashionable.” The store also carries gadgets, such as Master & Dynamic headphones (Holt wears an Apple Watch).

The neighborhood, which has slowly welcomed businesses such as Jane Bakery and Jay Jeffers, was chosen in part for its San Francisco heritage. This is not Maiden Lane, which houses Maison Margiela and Chanel.

Holt sought investors in part through an Indiegogo campaign, through which she raised more than $45,000. She’s also been gaining traction as something of a style ambassador to San Francisco, participating in panels and hosting intimate gatherings to connect like-minded people who have also decamped from New York.

It’s an approach she intends to maintain by hosting book signings, dinners and salons. Holt calls Hero Shop a “community center that sells things.” To that end, she added a restroom, sink and fridge during the renovations, in addition to dressing rooms and other updates.

So while the tech world might not need a hero, the analog world could use a champion. Plus, she said, “This city deserves to be perceived positively.”