Sean QuigleyFounder of Paxton GateSAN FRANCISCO, CAPhotography by Lauri LevenfeldStory by Lauri Levenfeld
Creativity is the imagination of ideas used in an artistic way. We get our ideas by roaming the streets, traveling or even just conversing with someone just about anything. But we all run into our blank spells. Paxton Gate is a unique and creative store in the Mission District in San Francisco. Our merchandise is guaranteed to get you and your child’s minds thinking.
I first opened Paxton Gate in 1992 in a small location on Stevenson Street, an alleyway off of Market.
It began as an eccentric garden store selling hard-to-find gardening tools from Japan, and unique flora and ephemera.
As the store evolved, a proclivity for the wider realm of natural sciences emerged, we added bizarre objects and items like taxidermy, skulls and bones, fossils, minerals, and art. We moved in 1999 to the Valencia Street location we currently inhabit.
Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids opened during the 2008 holiday season. It grew out of a small but successful kids science section in the main store. At the time, we recognized the rise of families with young children in the area, which also coincided with the birth of Sean’s daughter, Fiona. Curiosities for Kids maintains a similar brand identity to Paxton Gate, but is geared towards the experience of curious children.
For both stores, we look for products that will speak to our customers’ sense of wonder and awe. We try to source products locally handmade by artisans whenever possible. Ultimately, there is an aesthetic and a quality that our customers have come to expect at Paxton Gate, and that’s what we’re looking for whenever we go out to find new product.
Our current incarnation exists as a curiously mind-expanding experience, another dimension at once familiar yet completely peculiar—an escape from the Valencia Street as we know it and the entrance to another world. We want our customers to be awed, amazed, inspired, and maybe a bit terrified. Ultimately, though, we want them to be able to see and learn something new on every visit.
We hold classes just about every weekend on a variety of topics for adults—terrarium building, insect pinning, and DIY taxidermy to name a few.
For children, we offer birthday parties, weekly story hours, and craft activities on weekends.
We recognize the role technology plays in our world, but we also want to encourage people to reinvest in the natural world, engaging with it directly instead of through a screen. Both stores are stocked full of items that inspire the artist, the explorer, the adventurer, the green thumb, or the scientist in all of us.
TOP 5 KIDS TOYS:
1. MAGNETIC TEGU BLOCKS,
2. FOLKMANIS ANIMAL PUPPETS,
3. PETIT COLLAGE OUR WORLD FLOOR PUZZLE,
4. SANDS ALIVE INDOOR ‘SAND’ PLAY SET
5. KOOBA!—AN INTERACTIVE MAGNETIC TARGET GAME THAT’S SUPER FUN TO PLAY.
Adults will have just as much fun as kids will playing with these selections!
Browsing through our selections is sure to get the creative juices flowing, and fill your calendar with plenty of project ideas. With today’s advancements, everything is right at your finger tips. The technology involved with kids is something one never imagined. But Paxton Gate has done a tremendous pursuit of putting the create in creativity back.