Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Azalea Boutique - Ornament Yourself

San Francisco Boutique Pique
By: Nikki Jong @ Boutiquing

Azalea just might be the boutiquin
g equivalent of our amazing city: it offers creativity, style and diversity in spades. Oh-and it's not cheap, but then again, you get what you pay for. Since its opening in 2003, the boutique has added a significant hip factor to the heart of Hayes Valley.

Even if you've never heard of Azalea (where have you been!) chance are you've heard of Tobi, the online brainchild of the duo behind Azalea, co-founders Corina Nurimba and Catherine Chow. The concept behind Tobi is simple: great brands plus great service (check out their 1:1 chat-with-a-stylist feature) equals a great customer experience. But it all started with the brick-and-mortar boutique in happening Hayes Valley, where the all-stylist staff supports just about whatever kind of boutiquing experience you seek.

I've never had a less-than-stellar customer service experience at Azalea. Whether you want to chat about the latest trends, need suggestions, or are just curious about how a particular line is manufactured, one thing's for sure: you can expect attentive, helpful, friendly, knowledgeable (let's just say I consider myself an expert in Japanese denim now) service. You'll be in good hands, but if you prefer a solitary shopping experience, that'll be respected too.

The accessories at Azalea are always on point; find slick '80s-revival Timex watches in white, black, gold, and silver; striped scarves from Michael Stars in soft-as-a-bunny supima; tough-chic rings topped with pyramid studs; and more.

I couldn't resist the Cheap Monday sweater jackets, Splendid tanks, Vince cardigans and Elizabeth and James blazers (hello, lover!). You'll also find favorites like Twenty8Twelve, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Velvet, Joie, Free People, See by Chloe and Paul Smith. Footwear fetish? Dolce Vita and Toms shoes and Frye boots will keep the shakes away.

Know before you go: Head to the back of the store to peruse the sale racks-it's worth it. Spend $500 and you'll get a gift certificate good for a free mani-pedi at the in-house nail spa. Get free hemming with any denim purchase. And ask for a red bag when you check out; bring it with you on your next shopping trip for a 5% discount.

Bottom line: do yourself a fashionable favor and swing by.

411 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone 415.861.9888

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