By Tenderloin Geographic Society:

My, we got serious there. Last week, religion. The previous week...religion. Let’s lighten up, shall we? Maybe go shopping?

A lot of chatter on the wires about Mid-Market. Grievances both vintage and new, occasionally the rare eloquent lament of what was. Don’t even mention tax breaks. Few will admit that there is beauty to be found, some rogue museums of wonder and excitement. And no, we don’t mean the International Art Museum of America née the Superb Art Museum of America. 99 Cent stores are foster homes to oddly produced products, culturally inappropriate packaging, and also-ran foodstuffs. Imagine if Vitamin Water didn’t have the marketing budget to get it into the hands of the hungover: you’d find it here.

Two of the finest examples of non-chain dollar store are within blocks of each other in the neither-here-nor-there stretch of Mid-Market beloved of blogger and politican ire. On the north side where Larkin becomes 9th Street, the Dollar King holds court. On the south side, Dollar Market beckons to those doing business in U.N. Plaza. Both adhere to tradition of the 99 cent store as a clearinghouse of expired things, both culinarily and culturally speaking. But somehow the curatorial eye at work in these temples of frugality is a cut above the usual.

Let’s start slow: grapefruit corer, ideal for removing the cores of grapefruit. Apparently they do make them like they used to.


Easily store your Kiefer Sutherlands, or other Caucasian gentlemen.


Two kinds of onomatopoeic drank: Bang, the grape you ought not drink, Boing the grape you do.


Sometimes there are difficult decisions for an adult to make. Two shower curtains, both attractive: but only one appears to be tasteless, without poison. At these prices, get both. Discard plastic inside and keep pictures close at hand.


Just as well, you’re an adult and it’s time to stop using an old Tecate can as an ashtray. Go ahead, you can afford a measure of class (we know it’s not classy to say “class,” but we’re talking about girl-on-girl ashtrays here). And on the right, “The Warriors” themed cereal. On the back of this box there’s a maze where you help get the primate gang safely to their lair in Brooklyn. Inside, a bicycle chain and the vitamins and minerals you’ll need to survive the night!


As you may gather, this brief interlude doesn’t begin to plumb the depths of these fluorescent, thrumming treasure houses. Go unafraid into Mid-Market, and please, bring a camera and whatever loose change you have.

The Tenderloin Geographic Society is San Francisco's home for colloquial cartography and citizenship services since 2006 and a regular weekly contributor to SFist since 2011. Stay tuned for the Tenderloin Report.