Estate Sale Report: Hundreds of Items Half Off at Tenenbaum’s Emporium on Van Ness


For several years I’ve been ducking down Fern Alley off Van Ness Street  to visit a little store whose name I never knew. The small space was packed to the rafters with estate goods and shopping there was like combing through 1,000 attics stuffed into a four-room flat. For the next several months, that business has a new name (Tenenbaum’s Emporium) and a new Van Ness Street location (the old American Rag store between Bush and Sutter Sts.). Best of all, all the goods are 50 percent off.

The store is the brainchild of fine estate jeweler Dan Tenenbaum (owner of Gus Farber & Dan Tenenbaum in Union Square). For years, he’s been buying estate jewelry from around the country (including goods from many old San Francisco families). His clients kept asking him to sell furniture too, so he opened the shop on Fern Alley nine years ago. A couple of weeks ago, after American Rag vacated the building at 1305 Van Ness Street, he moved everything around the corner. It turns out that context really is everything.

Now all wares are merchandised by category: dishes, furniture, clocks, bed frames and art. In the light, bright space you can see it all—and it all looks like it wants to come home with you. Some of my favorites include a Korean writing desk ($975), a pair of metal French-style etageres ($850) and a 19th-century French chair with 1960s upholstery (a deal at $325).

Those are the sale prices, mind you. Bob May, the manager, says that every item over $10 will be discounted by half for the duration of the store’s stay in the building (it will be open for at least four months, maybe more).

There are smaller ticket items, including a collection of metallic horses and a great brass horse head ($75). Somehow, like paper mustache cut-outs, statues of horses and horse heads are hip. Who knows how these things happen?

Really, it’s a bit like the Mall of America for estate goods (and I’d rather shop here than that Minneapolis monstrosity). Check out the sheer volume of colored glassware and metal beds.

Tenenbaum loves all antiques; but if he has a specialties, they are clocks, light fixtures and Asian decorative items.

I want that cream-colored midcentury lamp.

The shop is open Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through May (and perhaps beyond).






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