The plane landed 15 minutes late. Not bad these days in the age of congested air travel. The challenge was, I need to disembark, get my rental car and navigate rush hour San Francisco traffic all in about an hour. The Leica Store was closing at 6pm, and it was already a quarter past four.
For my Bay Area business trips, I usually fly into SFO. There, I head up to San Francisco for photography and have dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant. The Leica Store was a departure. Something I added when I remembered that they opened the store, a year and half ago.
Imagine a loft like space that’s half museum and half gallery. That’s the SF Leica Store. Except, unlike a museum, you can buy the exhibits. They have the complete line, of course, each in their special red cubby surrounded by minimalist black cabinetry. The modern digital Ms are there, as well as the SL, the X and the T. But the older film cameras entice. Works of German precision from a bygone era.
Yes, I made it there in time, but barely. 15 minutes is not enough time. Two hours, maybe. My visit coincided perfectly with a ritual. Like a fine jeweler, the precious pieces are put away at night.
Carts of Leicas, more than most people will see in a lifetime. Be warned, this is extreme Leica camera porn. These are aspirational for most, though, I’m sure, the occasional well-healed might find these a sufficient San Francisco souvenir. Nothing for me, thanks. Just looking. Dreaming.
The Leica Store is located at the mouth of Chinatown. An interesting neighborhood for street photography and no doubt a nice place to test one’s prowess and their latest Leica purchase. Ironically, a stone’s throw away on Grant Street, there are several camera stores of the opposite kind. The low-end kind that prey on tourists with perpetual fake sales. Not interested in cameras, no problem how about some luggage or trinkets instead.
I vote for the Leica store.
Please support this blog by clicking on my Amazon Link before buying anything.
9 thoughts on “My visit to the Leica Store San Francisco”
This store is a ten minute walk from my office, and I occasionally make a pilgrimage there. It is, beyond a doubt, the most beautiful store I have ever seen. It makes the nearby Chanel / Gucci / Porsche Design etc. stores seem like a Target by comparison. Not only that, but the people there are great- they’ve let me play around with several cameras that cost noticeably more than my car, knowing full well that I wasn’t going to purchase one. They seem to appreciate people who appreciate their gear. They often have images from famous Leica photographers running on a screen in the back of the store as well. Amazing place.
David, agreed. Super beautiful and the people were very nice and accessible. Someday, I would love to spend more time there.
Could not help but try to peek at the price tags…
Best not to peek…just dream.
The closest I ever came to affording a Leica was back in the mid-1970s, when I worked at a Leica store in Atlanta. And it wasn’t that close even back then. If anything, the prices of Leicas are even farther away today. Regardless, I certainly appreciate your story and photography of the store as usual.
Bill, yes Leicas seem to be going up faster than inflation. I believe that’s the case these days as with many luxury goods.
They actually have come down 12% because of the weak Euro, but still very pricey.