So sorry.... I got caught up in the holiday and took a night off.... I didn't really have much to report yesterday - I visited Market Street....  and mainly mainstream shops - Gap, Old Navy, yada yada yada...They were all of course very nice ....but not very exciting.  

We ended the day wandering through Chinatown through to the City Lights Book Store - a wonderful place full of excellent literature.  Don't expect magazines or stationery here - it is solid book territory and they take the written word very seriously.  

Bright Light Books Store

So clearly we needed a drink afterwards - across the alley to be exact, at Vesuvio. By the light of the flickering chandelier we had a drink and a laugh and soaked up the unique atmosphere - #recommend.

Vesuvio

The new day dawned and I was hanging out for some beads..... aren't you?  Well, I have good news! I found some. Turquoise to be exact and a few others and I started to feel a bit more excited.... given that that is what I came for!

China Town

But first, I have a story to tell.  San Francisco is known as being a hub for a booming Tech industry.   From what we can gather it has been both a blessing and a curse.  When the Tech's made it their home - they paid inflated prices for the real estate sometimes double or triple what the houses were worth and it made it  ridiculously expensive ..... not only to live, but to visit.  

San Francisco is pretty well the most expensive city in the US to live now with monthly living costs for a family of 4 at $12,500US per month and a family earning $117,000US is classified as low income.  A room starts from $2000US for a month - that's a room ..... not a flat .... a room ....and that is nothing fancy.  I was told today that the living wage for San Francisco is $100,000US (not verified) - and we think we have it bad in Auckland.  

When out and about in the city I have noticed that things like spray on deoderant were locked behind glass and when looking for knickers in Gap they had all but closed the section.  On enquiry, I was told that they didn't have them there... as they were stolen too often and if I wanted them - "Try LA". Thinking about it,  any personal hygiene products have been difficult to find in the central city.   I'm guessing it may be due to the many homeless (there seem to be an unusally high number here) who are unable to shower etc... I am of course not certain - just a guess.   Times are tough and prices are high.... 

In a place like Chinatown, when you combine this with generational changes,  wherein new generations aren't quite as eager to keep the culture alive (this is what many of the local shop keepers were telling me today) and are more interested in integrating and working in a regular job like tech, or finance or whatever - these places are suffering big time.  Which is kinda sad I felt.

So, when we wandered up Grant Ave today there were a few too many closing down sales to not make you wonder what was going on.  Now, it would be fair to think that "Closing Down Sale" signs were  a ploy for all the tourists etc... and to an extent,  that may be true... but in fact, the empty shop spaces told us otherwise.  When we stopped and talked to the locals - we found they were really struggling. You just had to look around and see the low pedestrian foot count to see they were telling the truth. Exorbidantly high rents, low sales due to this year's bad weather and San Francisco in general being an expensive place for the tourist mean that Chinatown can't expect the crowds it normally does.  It is Spring of course - (Summer is their busy season) and I know some will survive (I imagine the ones closer to Union Square probably), but it was pretty evident to us today that Chinatown is not what it used to be.  So, that is the bad news.....

But thankfully, there is also some good news.....

Sodalite

On the upside - I hit bead pay dirt today.... I found some gorgeous beads..... but refrained from blowing my whole budget as I needed to consult with you of course.

Sapphire Quartz and Blue Agate (natural)

Trust me - it was hard.  I wanted more and in fact I got major stink eye from one of the salespeople because she was convinced I should buy something.  She was insistant and kept bargaining with me, but I knew if I spent on that I couldn't spend it elsewhere and I want to bring back something different.  I told her my customers were discerning - she told me "You make them buy" - oh my, I was lucky to escape that shop alive. 

Bright Blue Turquoise

Teal Turquoise

So here are some blues and greens... Turquoise, Peridot, Blue Agate, Sapphire Quartz and Sodalite.  All of these are natural stones (un-dyed) and of high quality.  What are your thoughts?  The Sodalite is unlike any I have seen before and I love it!  I could have gone crazy but I need to save some budget for some different hues. 

Green Turquoise & Peridot

 I am pretty pleased with my haul so far and tomorrow I may even attempt some flaylays as - I need to stay away from the shops! LOL! I need to know your thoughts!!!