The second stop on the San Francisco Textile Tour (first stop: Britex) was Urban Burp. I originally learned about it from this post on the Golden Yard and this post on Apartment Therapy. The shop is owned and run by a very friendly woman named Electra Skilandat. She’s a longtime collector of vintage fabrics who has traveled the world acquiring her stock from private collectors worldwide. She told us that estate sale fabric is more time-consuming to acquire and usually isn’t of great quality, so she focuses her aquisition efforts on other collectors. These are collectors who have accumulated a lifetime’s worth of fabric and now wish to pass their treasures on to someone who will appreciate and respect them.
The store is packed wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with vintage, contemporary retro, and discontinued reproduction/retro fabrics. But vintage is the star here; I’d say at least 90-95% of the inventory was 1940s-60s vintage. She has an especially nice selection of barkcloth.
Electra has spent years selling fabric in the big vintage/antique show circuit, and just opened the storefront two months ago. While we were there her sisters came in for the first time and remarked that the place “doesn’t even smell bad.”! You know it must be quality stuff if there’s no vintage fabric mustiness!
Needless to say, this place made my head spin. It was total sensory overload and now looking back at the pictures I’m bummed I didn’t notice some of these fabrics when they were right in front of me! But I am very excited by my purchases. You’ve already seen this one and this one; here are a few more.
The shop is still in pre-grand-opening disarray, with stacks of unsorted fabrics covering every available surface. She had two employees busy sorting, folding, and pricing fabrics. Some of the ones I bought were fresh out of the storage bin and not even priced yet.
Speaking of prices, they were very reasonable. Not bargain basement or thrift store prices, but more along the lines of typical eBay auction or Japanese fabric prices. She’ll cut pretty much any size piece from longer yardage; smaller pieces (< 2 yards or so) are priced by the piece but she said she’d cut those up depending on the fabric.
Electra and I exchanged contact info so I’ll be getting in touch with her for an interview. I was so giddy I forgot to ask about the crazy name!
Urban Burp is in the Financial District on the edge of North Beach. at 170 Columbus Ave, Ste. 110, kind of tucked back from street view so have faith if you go and can’t quite find it. Call before you go to find out store hours: (415) 399-8761.
The Grand Opening is scheduled for Oct. 24-26, 2008. Electra said that after the store is in better shape, she plans to offer all sorts of classes. So, lucky Bay Area-ites, pay a visit and keep an eye out for lots of good things to come.