From Decades of Fashion in the Haight to the first Crossroads Trading Co. on Fillmore and Bush streets, San Francisco is filled with stellar secondhand clothing stores. But none of these shops can claim to sell wares out of a tricked-out space that would normally hold cars.
Twice a month, Sensitive Vintage proprietor Sivan Peleg rolls up a rusty red garage door on 18th Street in the Mission District and invites the community to find fashion gems hailing from the 1930s to the newly trendy Y2K era.
Sensitive Vintage’s next pop-up is Saturday.
Among the racks, you may find a 93-year-old silk bed jacket like your great-granny used to wear, a handmade woolen sweater depicting the Bay Bridge or a quirky San Francisco Boys Chorus retro tee.
These one-of-a-kind finds are surrounded by equally unique decor, including a quilted vest of vintage San Francisco buttons and pins rescued from an estate sale and a neon alligator sign gifted by artist and Burning Man co-founder John Law. The walls are covered in graffiti lovingly applied by Peleg’s artist friends—and kooky clown tchotchkes and motifs show up on shelves throughout.
The array of funky clothes and decorations is part of Peleg’s vision. She wants the pop-up shop to feel like the Cheers of vintage stores—welcoming and approachable, which is why she prices most items between $20 and $70 and almost anything goes for the decor.
“We always say it's kind of like a dive bar,” Peleg said. “Every time we find something, we just put it on the wall.”
Between jobs during Covid, the Bay Area native decided to ditch the 9-to-5 grind to launch Sensitive Vintage in 2021 after becoming increasingly passionate about sustainably sourced and upcycled fashions.
“There’s a documentary that really did it for me that was called The True Cost,” Peleg said. “And that documentary is about fast fashion and the human impact on people who are actually making these clothes in factories overseas.”
That was the moment when she decided she simply could not shop at stores like Forever 21 anymore.
Like other stay-at-home entrepreneurs, Peleg and her fiancé saw an opportunity to repurpose their glorified car storage, so they transformed the disheveled garage into a boutique—one that now has fitting rooms and mirrors that glow with rainbow rims and a custom sign hand-painted by a local artist.
“There’s no racks; there’s no nothing,” Peleg’s partner in life and business, Evan Thompson, recalled. “I was like, ‘I’ll just clean up the garage and put up some racks. Let’s make it happen.’”
“We just opened the garage and waited for people to walk by,” Peleg added.
Since then, Peleg has made sourcing, stitching up and cleaning clothes her full-time job. Meanwhile, Sensitive Vintage has accumulated quite a few more racks, as well as more than 14,000 followers on Instagram. Peleg typically sells between 250 and 300 items at every pop-up, but makes a point of keeping a $5 bin filled to the brim with affordable retro pieces.
While Peleg doesn’t have any grand designs to turn Sensitive into a full-time shop or move the endeavor into a traditional brick-and-mortar, she does hope the space can continue to be a popular pop-up for vintage enthusiasts and a neighborhood hub.
Since opening up her garage, Peleg has formed a sewing circle with a handful of women she’s met through the pop-up, and a local 4-year-old even staffs the register sometimes, she says. She not only loves unearthing lived-in pieces of San Francisco history—like a retro Giants graphic tee featuring the team’s old home at Candlestick Park—but also when she’s able to see such fashions come back to life in the local community.
“It happens pretty often that I see people out in the Mission wearing something that I know I sold them, which is really cool,” she said. “I love the hunt of going all around to find stuff and then the reward of seeing people pick it up themselves and take it home.”
It’s her way of feeling more rooted in the city where her dream of owning a vintage shop was born and became a reality.
“I think why I love vintage San Francisco stuff [is] because it makes me feel connected to the history of the city,” Peleg said.
And she hopes her customers can find something that makes them feel that way, too.
🗓️ Nov. 11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
📍 3678 18th St., Mission
Christina Campodonico can be reached at email@example.com