New boutiques with community spirit freshen up the Coastside retail scene
Thanks to the efforts of several local women who’ve opened retail collectives in recent months, the Coastside community has two new places to shop for kids’ clothing, eco-friendly toys, unique jewelry and home goods, and much more.
Wetsuits and cowboy boots. No, it’s not the title of a new surf-country song extolling the Coastside life and style. Rather, secondhand wetsuits and pre-loved cowboy boots are among the most in-demand items offered at El Granada’s Cove Collective, a boutique specializing in kids’ goods, particularly aimed at eco-conscious beachgoers and surfers, as befitting the business’ seaside locale.
“We’re really interested in moving the beach culture toward having more sustainable, eco-friendly gear, and kids’ and baby toys,” said co-founder Alisa Stegmaier. As their working mission statement reads, they sell “quality used clothes and sustainable merchandise in honor of our beautiful coastal environment and planet.”
Stegmaier and business partner Gina Spinardi are good friends who grew up together on the coast. When schedules permit (they both work other jobs in addition to running the shop and raising children), they still spend days at the beach, taking turns watching each other’s kids while the other catches waves. In addition to a love of surfing, the partners also share an environmentalist ethos, a passion for thrifting and a desire to build community for local families.
With Cove Collective, which officially opened in late March, they provide a hub for sourcing good-condition used children’s clothing, as well as a curated selection of new products including not only clothes and toys but also art supplies, books, gifts and games from sustainable brands.
As Spinardi and Stegmaier noted, wetsuits are pricey, not particularly sustainably manufactured and outgrown quickly by kids. They were excited, at the time of this interview in mid-July, to soon also offer wetsuit, boogie board and surfboard rentals.
“It was hard, for myself, as a child to get in the water,” Spinardi said, recalling her dad trying to find her a wetsuit without breaking the bank. “Surf equipment is so expensive. There are not a lot of places you can go to that are affordable, to get kids into the ocean without spending hundreds of dollars.”
And as for the used cowboy boots, “leather is in many ways a sustainable product because it is a byproduct, and has a long life,” Stegmaier noted. The boots “can also get many wears from many children.”
Designed to be engaging and cozy, the space offers children places to read, play and relax while adults shop. The store accepts bags of clothing donations, and donors receive a 20% discount on any merchandise (the shop will also pay for donations of wetsuits and cowboy boots.) Shoppers can also take and/or donate free beach toys, with the goal of reducing cheap plastic waste.
Cove Collective also serves as a community gathering place, with a weekly free, doula-run postpartum group, weekend storytimes, math nights led by Spinardi’s sister and plans to expand to science nights, music lessons and more.
Community feedback has been enthusiastic, and thanks to customer requests, the store will soon stock more gift items for grown-ups as well.
“Neither of us have ever been in retail before and this is both of our first experiences with a business,” Spinardi said. “We are definitely learning a lot and sometimes in over our heads, but I think we’re going to figure it out.”
Cove Collective, 30 Avenue Portola, Suite 100A, El Granada. Current hours are Thursday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information is available at@covecollectivehmb.
Malt and Stone
Since she was a little girl, Caitlyn Cuadra had a goal in mind. Fascinated by fashion and textiles from a young age, she proclaimed, “I’m going to have a store of my own.” With Malt and Stone, her boutique and brand, she’s made that childhood dream come true and is supporting other women designers as well.
Malt and Stone got its start as a brand four years ago online “as a little side hustle” for selling her handmade polymer earrings, said Cuadra, who’s also an interior designer and event planner. That venture “blossomed so well, I decided to just take it a little bit further and bring in curated clothing.” In addition to online orders, she began doing pop-up sales and found she loved having an in-person presence. Her pop-up success gave her the courage to try opening a brick-and-mortar storefront, which she did a few months ago. The Pacifica shop now carries women and children’s clothing, plus home goods, jewelry and more.
While she no longer crafts earrings herself, she’s pivoted her creative focus to designing Malt Minis – the brand’s new line of one-of-a-kind clothes for kids ages newborn to 10. A new mom herself, Cuadra got inspired when she found out she was expecting her son and wanted to find cute, high-quality, gender-neutral items that “could be handed down from child to child.” She co-creates the designs, which favor light, breathable fabrics such as linens, cottons and jersey, along with a friend, who sews them by hand.
Essential to Malt and Stone’s ethic is its role as a collective – a place for a rotating group of fellow businesswomen and designers to showcase their wares, carrying about five to seven small brands in its collection at a time. “That’s been a really big fun project,” she said, “to bring a little light to what they’re doing.” The collective participants change more or less monthly and have included designers offering pottery, jewelry, baby swaddles and beanies, napkin sets and hand-dyed home goods by a maker who dyes everything using natural material from her own backyard, to name a few.
The shop’s aesthetic is influenced by the season. At the time of this interview, Cuadra said she was honing in on lighter, brighter looks for summer, in hues including tangerines and royal blues. Mindful that her clientele includes everyone from babies to seniors, “we keep a pretty broad collection, just so we can reach everybody,” Cuadra said of Malt and Stone’s fashion options.
She said Pacifica has been “super welcoming” so far. “The street we’re on is considered downtown, but it’s up-and-coming,” she noted. “And we’re right on the cusp of something really great coming up.”
Malt and Stone is located at 1625 Palmetto Ave., Suite C, Pacifica. Current hours are Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. More information is available at maltandstone.com/pages/about-us.