It may not be the biggest or the best, but it is the oldest shopping mall in San Francisco. People in the Sunset, Ingelside & Oceanview areas very rarely go downtown to shop, they go to Stonestown which opened up in 1951 to serve the shopping needs of those living away from downtown.
Originally, it was a smaller open air mall anchored by the Emporium. Some of the biggest draws in the old days besides the Emporium were Brooks Brother’s suits, Summer and Kaufmann shoe’s and Blum’s an ice cream shop that sold chocolates and candies. Those were at least the shops my family would frequent and usually in that order. Brooks Brother’s didn’t come into play until I got my first job and then of course in those days, I needed a suit.
All of these stores are gone now, though I still have a couple of plastic sealed candy easter egg diorama’s from Blum’s. that date back to the 60’s. In the early 80’s shopping malls all became upscale by adding the word Galleria to the end and in the early 80’s it became the Stonestown Galleria. Old timers like me still refer to it as Stonestown.
What I didn’t realize was that when it was built the area known as Parkmerced was included so that there would be housing for people who would then frequent the shopping area. These started as apartments and then moved on to townhouses as Stonestown became more popular. When it moved over to the Stonestown Galleria in the 80’s it became an enclosed space with underground parking and gained a second level so that the shopping experience would become denser. The problem was that an upscale shopping district didn’t fit with the blue collar middle class that shopped there. The stores started to leave because they couldn’t afford the rents and were replaced eventually by upscale chain stores. Nordstroms moved in and Brooks Brothers went out. Godiva Chocolates moved in and Blum’s closed and Sees candy downsized [I still like Sees candy better].
You’ll find all of the same stores that you would find in any upscale mall around the country just on a smaller scale now. The Stonestown Galleria seems to still be trying to find it’s niche to fit in with the community. The Apple store is still the one store that no matter what time of day you go in it’s always busy. If someone had a coffee stand outside they would make a mint so people wouldn’t have to go upstairs to the food court to get a sampling of the typical mall food.
Stonestown Galleria is the place we all go when we need something more than what we can get closer to home. San Francisco isn’t really a mall type of city and you’ll notice that when you first drive in and see a sign that lists the Stonestown Galleria Code of Conduct. Really? They’re telling you how to behave at a mall? Apparently they are, but I haven’t seen a guard around to enforce it.