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Valencia Street

In the emerging Inner Mission, Valencia is shaking off its seedy image. Sprouting up in place of auto shops and taquerías are hot restaurants and offbeat boutiques owned by young entrepreneurs. But watch out: parking is close to impossible.

Highlights 105 Valencia St.; 415/575-1230. Ever lusted after those teardrop-shaped lamps that you see in the nightclub on Ally McBeal?This high-end European lighting store is the source for the Pablo Pardo creations ($110) that light up McBeal's night.

Trump 153­155 Valencia St.; 415/551-1540. Naysayers to political correctness who yearn for the days of British colonial rule will fancy Trump's sumptuous Anglo-Indian imports, from handloomed cashmere throws in shades of sand and charcoal ($1,200) to reclaimed Burmese teak plantation chairs with arms that swing out to hold your gin and tonic ($2,700).

Therapy 545 Valencia St.; 415/861-6213. This shop's mid-century modern home furnishings have become so popular with the young, monied Silicon Valley set that a year ago owner Wayne Wehlan opened Therapy Too (1051 Valencia St.; 415/648-7565). Both carry goods ranging from dressers that beg for repainting ($75) to indulgent curvilinear 1950's couches ($500­$1,500).

Rayon Vert 3187 16th St.; 415/861-3516. Kelly Kornegay has made a name for herself designing loosely styled bouquets of peonies and lilies. Her pastel shop has a curious juxtaposition of floral arrangements ($40­$200) and stainless-steel medical furniture ($200­$750).

Schauplatz 791 Valencia St.; 415/864-5665. Who knew a vintage flowerpot hat done with feathers and silk netting ($65) could be flattering?Bernhard Wetsch and Alan Freedman, who stock their shop with used clothing and furniture, had a hunch. Dig the men's nylon shirts in eye-popping prints.

City Art 828 Valencia St.; 415/970-9900. Rene Amini's painting of a woman with bossy red lipstick balancing a red Mustang on the tip of her tongue ($500) must be an articulation of something. At his new consignment gallery, Jehfree Waterbury can help to augment your madness.

Retro Fit Vintage 855 Valencia St.; 415/550-1530. Alison Hoekstra and Audrey Wackerly scour garage sales and auctions for clothing from the 1940's through the 70's, with a few items from the 80's—"if they're hokey enough," says Hoekstra, a 28-year-old blonde given to wearing frightfully short skirts.

Ruby Artists Cooperative Gallery 3602 20th St.; 415/550-8052. Pros: Debbie Sciales's Ultrasuede bags ($35); crystal-bead necklaces by Alumbre ($36). Con: the resident pug, Ruby, who insists on licking visitors' legs. Wear pants and survey the work of local artists, who work in the store.

Currents 911 Valencia St.; 415/648-2015. A natural-products emporium that acknowledges the importance of getting clean, with muslin-swathed Lavender Relief bath teas ($1.25) and Contessa soap ($1.50­$6). Sold by the slice, Contessa looks like a watercolor scented with mimosa, honey, sweet orange, and gardenia.

Dema 1038 Valencia St.; 415/206-0500. Dema Grim's raison d'être is to reinvent mod. Summer saw fetching floral shifts ($130); autumn inspiration tends toward unforgiving knee-length satin skirts ($90).

Aquarius Records 1055 Valencia St.; 415/647-2272. Specializing in independent labels and imports, Aquarius satiates electronic fiends, metalheads, and aficionados of hard-to-find Latin psychedelia from the 1960's.

Laku 1069 Valencia St.; 415/695-1462. All manner of hats in velvet, silk, and linen ($48­$150) make their way to the window from Yaeko Yamashita's sewing table in the back of her store. She also crafts swank silk slippers ($25­$68).

Scarlet Sage Herb Co. 1173 Valencia St.; 415/821-0997. A homeopathic haven. Choose from flower essences for emotional healing, Betony Herb Extract (a hard-to-find muscle relaxant), and the alluring Dragon's Blood incense.

Upper Polk Street

Formerly a hub of rowdy clubs and tatty used-clothing stores, Upper Polk Street—the five-block stretch between Pacific and Filbert Streets—is rapidly emerging as a design mecca.

La Belle Antiques III 2035 Polk St.; 415/673-1181. Joan Blair, the gracious proprietor of small, jumbled La Belle, travels to Britain once a year to pick up all things English. Noteworthy finds include Queen Elizabeth II silver jubilee plates ($34­$38) and enameled tin mugs commemorating the 1870 coronation of Edward and Alexandra ($110). But don't overlook the collection of porcelain hair receivers ($35­$60), used until World War I to store strands collected after 100 daily brush strokes.

Zonal 2139 Polk St.; 415/563-2220. Anyone drawn to "junqueman" Russell Pritchard's first Zonal store on Hayes Street (where he popularized the rusted, chipped-paint look) will delight in his second location. Movie-set and interior designers flock to the loftlike space, which houses a similarly eclectic assortment of rustic country furniture and vintage Americana, but this time there's more, including a collection of leather club-style furniture ($1,450­$2,995) that Pritchard designed with partner Scott Kalmbach.

Interior Visions 2206 Polk St.; 415/771-0656. The kind of estate-sale coups worth fantasizing about. Carol Coleman and Richard Sepulveda regularly uncover late-18th- and early-19th-century French, English, and American furniture: oak armoires ($1,500-$6,000), mahogany bedroom sets ($2,000-­$3,000), and vintage trunks ($600­-$1,200).

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