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Peek inside this SF boutique selling taxidermy, butterflies and bones

“If I told you where we source things from, I’d have to kill you,” Sean Quigley said.

He's joking, of course. Yet those who step inside Paxton Gate, Quigley's highly bizarre Mission District store, might just believe him.

The one-of-a-kind boutique shop, specializing in taxidermy, fossils and framed insects, sells only unusual items. Taxidermy bats, stingray barbs, a fetal sloth and framed insects are just a few of the oddities that you’ll find within Paxton Gate’s four walls. There’s even a human brain on display.

“A good amount of people come in almost like it's a museum and wander around and enjoy it with a sense of awe,” said Quigley. 

An animal skull sits on display on a shelf.
One of the many animal skulls found on display inside Paxton Gate | Mike Kuba/The Standard

The store wasn't always like this. Originally, when Quigley first got involved in 1992, the boutique had more humble ambitions as a gardening destination that only occasionally sold more unusual objects. Over time, it evolved into the delightfully outlandish destination that it is today.

Paxton Gate was recently added to San Francisco’s Legacy Business Registry—an honor that Quigley quietly admitted he was very proud of.

Quigley said the store echoes a San Francisco of the past, when artists, poets, punk rockers and eccentrics helped mold the city into a refuge for weirdness.

"I'd like to think that we connect with that old San Francisco that's a little harder to find now," he said.

This story is part of The Standard’s video series “The Holdouts.” In it, we profile long-standing local businesses, institutions and people that have withstood the test of time. Have ideas for people or places that would fit this series? Shoot us an email at

Mike Kuba can be reached at

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