On my next trip up to San Francisco, I’m vowing to visit Joy Venturini Bianchi at the Helper’s Home Bazaar in Ghiradelli Square which benefits the Helpers of the Mentally Retarded charity for the last 50+ years. If you have never been before, you need to head up to SF right this instant for a once in a life-time experience.
I met Joy seven years ago when I was six month’s pregnant. A college friend and I had met up in the city for a day of tourism and shopping when we stumbled upon the store. As we tried on vintage hats and raved over the original designer clothes of the 50s and 60s, Joy came over and played dress up with us. We spent five hours in the store hearing stories of rich San Franciscan socialites, Joy’s passion for a proper girdle, and how to properly wear a vintage hat.
As the sun set over the bay, I dropped $195 on a hand-made wool coat. It was 40 years old and better quality than anything I’ve ever seen before and every penny of the proceeds goes to the charity. The lining alone was practically worth the cost. It even has the name of the rich socialite embroidered on the inside pocket. But the truth is, the experience I had there was priceless. Every year since I’ve sent a little money here and there to continue to support the store and as a thank you to Joy and the unforgettable experience I had in her store.
As we left that first night, I promised her that I would come up again to visit and show her my baby. I haven’t made it up to the store since that first visit. And so this spring, I plan to make the trek up for a fashionista reunion. My son and I will sip hot chocolate at the Ghiradelli Store and then stop over to see Joy. I don’t know if I’ll buy another $200 coat, but Joy is one convincing sales woman.
And the proceeds still go to charity…