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You'll be hard-pressed to find anything you need at Park Life, but spend a few minutes browsing through the books and treasures at this Clement Street shop and you'll discover many things that you want. Unusual objects. Cards. T-shirts to tempt even those who swear they don't wear artsy tees. It's a place that makes you smile, which is one of the reasons why it's fun to shop here for other people: Park Life makes selecting a gift a joyful experience. And that's why it takes our Racked Award for best place to find a gift.
Jamie Alexander and Derek Song opened Park Life in 2006 after collaborating on a Andrew Schoultz book. They each wanted to open an art-related space. After realizing that their individual talents and visions meshed, they decided to work together to bring a store to the Inner Richmond. "We decided at some point that we were going to take a risk, create a destination, and not rely on any well worn retail corridor," Jamie tells Racked. And so it all began.
Over the last eight years, Park Life has developed a reputation as an art space. In addition to hosting art shows in the store, Alexander and Song worked with artists to create affordable versions of art that everyone could enjoy. They also continued publishing books —usually catalogs of art work— under their imprint, Paper Museum Press.
The magic of Park Life has always been the unique pieces, particularly the artist collaborations. "It's our aesthetic and curating the store with things you can't get other places..and producing our own merchandise," Jamie says. "Everything in the store and gallery is something I would want for myself. It's an extension of our personality. Our customers keep coming back for our consistent sense of design, color, humor, irony." That sense of humor includes items like the periodic release from The Thing Quarterly. (The current "thing" is a clear vinyl picture disc from Rodarte.)
So what's next for Park Life? Expect the business to grow and change starting with the gallery space that opened earlier this year in the Mission. Park Like plans to host 10 or 11 shows each year at the gallery, as well as other programming, like music events and book signing. Jamie says the store is expanding product lines and collaborations with artists, and will be doing more book and art fairs next year. And if you want more Park Life, you're in luck. He tells us that he plans to open another store at some point. "We want to make people as obsessed with good art and design as we are."