By Sophia Markoulakis
San Francisco Chronicle
Wedged within scenic Highway 17 and the base of the Sierra Azules is Los Gatos, a 19th century town with great schools, the Chronicle four-star Manresa (see Page 5) and a charming historic downtown. Outwardly, not much has changed since this milling and orchard town was established, and many of the Victorian-era buildings are still standing and occupied with retail shops that cater to both recent transplants and established residents. It’s a self-contained town that enjoys celebrating its past while looking toward the future — evident in the mix of home decor shops that appeal to vintage hunters and art seekers.
— Sophia Markoulakis, email@example.com
Owners Susan and Bob Bortfeld have developed a niche within the crafting and collectible community since opening their French-inspired shop 12 years ago. Their assortment of ribbons, antique letters and stationery appeals to the craft set while collectors of vintage cameras, china and flatware rely on Bob’s constant sourcing for rare finds. The couple also carry a number of American-made products by artists like Colorado’s Janet Ontko, who makes clay tiles and sculptures. The shop has developed a loyal following with regulars who stop by to sift through old ephemera and vintage photos. More than once someone has spotted an image and said, “Hey, I think this is a picture of my grandmother.”
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Sat., 130-C N. Santa Cruz Ave. (408) 399-9090.www.vintagesantiques.com
2. The Maids’ Quarters
Everything for the bedroom and bath can be found at this 37-year-old shop. Owner Claudia Mann curates a luxurious selection of linens and towels from lines like Sferra, Yves Delorme and Carrara in addition to custom bedding and upholstery services. Over-the-top vanity displays are staged throughout the store with mirrored trays, silver-lidded crystal jars, and scents from Nest as well as Rance 1795 soaps. Pillows, robes, framed art and other appropriate decor rounds out the selection. Don’t miss the back garden, which has a fountain and a charming display of garden art and statuary. It’s a multigenerational shop, run by Mann and her daughter, and visited by multigenerational shoppers.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 36 N. Santa Cruz Ave. (408) 395-1980. www.themaidsquarters.com
3. JCO'S Place
There are always 20 to 30 contemporary artists represented in this small 400-square-foot space that art dealer and collector Julie Jenkins opened less than a year ago. A feat of organizational mastery, it functions as a gallery and an event space for openings and pop-ups. Local artists like Gordon Smedt share wall space with national fine artists like John Gonnella and Ann Strassman, and Brazil-based mixed-media artist José Gonçalves. Jenkins makes the space inviting for budding collectors and staffs it with friendly associates who are happy to educate.
11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., until 5 p.m. Sun. and Wed. 45 N. Santa Cruz Ave. (408) 888-1500. www.jcosplace.com
It’s been seven years since celebrity chef Michael Chiarello opened this outpost of NapaStyle, and it’s still a popular place to pick up his trademark flavored salts and olive oils and Wine Country rustic decor. Today it’s the only remaining outpost besides the company’s flagship Yountville location, and the shop exudes Napa living albeit in a South Bay locale. Besides the requisite branded foods, there’s a good mix of new and vintage items that seem aligned with Los Gatos living, including larger big-ticket items like furniture and grills.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. 32 N. Santa Cruz Ave. (408) 354-1119.www.napastyle.com
When Christine Kent relocated her Saratoga shop to downtown Los Gatos several years ago, she also changed the name. A friend referred to her as being frank, in a good way, and it stuck. Two years ago Kent relocated to a larger location opposite the town square, allowing her to amass an inventory of cheeky and whimsical items. Her taste for humor-infused goods runs throughout the store, from greeting cards, mounted doll eye art, and suitcase shelves to new driftwood pieces engraved with clever sayings. Kent is always hunting for the delightfully unrefined item. Look hard enough you’ll find something that you never knew you needed but have to have.
1 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. 9 Montebello Way. (408) 316-3329.www.frankinteriors.net
6 . Galeria Arte
Claudia Lopez moved her shop to the former Gina’s location this past September after having been on North Santa Cruz Avenue for three years. Lopez has taken advantage of the store’s various rooms by displaying her large inventory of Guatemalan and Mexican folk art and textiles within pieces of furniture and curios. Everything in the store is hand picked by Lopez as she travels to her native Guatemala and Mexico several times a year. All of the ceramics are lead-free and her wall art and tin metal mirrors are versatile pieces that would work well in any room. The shop is a must for anyone that’s a fan of the vibrant yarns and paints of Latin America. There’s also a large selection of Madonna and Dia de los Muertos art, including delicate miniatures and scenes that perfectly evoke the spirit of the craft.
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Sat., until 4 p.m. Sun. 25 West Main St. (408) 395-0403.www.guatemalanboutique.com