Liz Winsor’s shop in a garage is a vintage haven and a thrifter’s wonderland
Liz Winsor opened Decor Galore to enter the trade of finding and selling vintage items, not convincing people that her business is not a garage sale. Upon first glance the space could look like a sidewalk sale or a space where a tenant from upstairs is trying to make a few bucks.
“Lots of people assume that I live here. And I don’t,” said Winsor, 54, a San Francisco resident and the woman behind the business. The boutique in a garage has sparked some confusion among customers. “This is a commercial space. I’m in the same building as Pressed Juicery,” clarified Winsor.
Located on the corner of where Sanchez Street meets 24th Street is one of the only shops in San Francisco that is housed in a garage. The space belongs to the lower level of a commercial building that could easily be mistaken for an apartment complex. The bay windows and arched entryway may contribute to this mistaken identity.
Winsor has transformed the space. Once bare walls are now covered with antique mirrors and wall decorations and the tables are lined with numerous vintage items from books to brooches. The shop’s set up is entirely intentional, unlike a randomly thrown together garage sale.
Richard De Pointe, 46, a Noe Valley resident of 18 years and friend of Winsor was there at the beginning. “It didn’t look like a boutique at all. There was no organization,” said De Pointe.
Winsor opened Decor Galore, previously known as The Garage Store, in 2007. “It’s been shops for 30 years, probably more than that,” said Winsor. “It was an antique shop, cigar shop, a computer repair store and a mystery bookstore.” Now decades later, Decor Galore celebrated its fourth anniversary this month on September 16.
Though Winsor happily celebrated another year in the neighborhood, she admits running her business has its moments. “There’s a lot of challenges because I’m in a garage,” said Winsor.
Winsor explained how it’s difficult to physically maintain the space and to maintain its image. Customers often think of the shop as a garage sale and not as a commercial retail store. This has sometimes lead them to think that haggling for prices is acceptable. Winsor also makes it a priority to price items reasonably while balancing her profit margin.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Winsor, “but I do love it.” Not only does her small shop give her a sense of fulfillment, but her customers keep her happy. Winsor’s focus on customer service shows when people come back whether it be to see what’s new or just to say “hi.”
“About fifty-percent of my customers are regulars,” said Winsor. “I’ve gotten really positive feedback. It’s a sweet neighborhood.”
Being the force behind this one-woman operation, Winsor can’t always leave work at work. When she’s buying for her store she keeps her customers in mind. “I always shop for my customers and keep track of what they’re looking for,” said Winsor.
Winsor also makes an effort to buy what she likes. “Now I’ve made the store my store and buy things I like to sell, rather than what I had to sell before,’ said Winsor. Her customers seem to respond well to her choices. “People really enjoy her taste,” said De Pointe.
Winsor is constantly making changes to her store, whether it be the merchandise or the displays. She independently runs her shop with hopes to consistently please her customers. “I’m it. Everything here I’ve done. It’s all me,” said Winsor.