Merchants, Makers and Creatives: Meet the Folks Who Make Up SF’s Travel Scene

Posted by Jordan Bailey

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You know that feeling that San Francisco has? That distinct energy that lets you know you’re in San Francisco, and couldn’t possibly be anywhere else in the world? The energy that tells you — as Kinda Kayyali from Sincerely SF put it — “This isn’t just ‘Anywhere, USA.’”

Even more than the hills, the fog and the rickety old cable cars, it’s the people of San Francisco that really give the city its undeniable charm. San Francisco has always been a magnet for those who aren’t afraid to live unabashedly as they are, and attracts people who pursue their passions and live to share their craft with others.

People like Mike Rescino, a fourth generation Italian fisherman who learned the ways of the water almost as soon as he could walk. The youngest generation of the Rescino family — who have docked their boat in the same berth at Fisherman’s Wharf for more than 100 years — still gives fishing tours almost every day of the week.

And Kinda, who turned her love of gift giving and steadfast support of small business into a small business of her own — an online gift shop that sells goods exclusively by local merchants. It’s an idea that, she said, isn’t hard to sell San Franciscans on, given the city’s tendency to appreciate the unique, the quirky and the one of a kind.

“Life is a lot more interesting with stuff you don’t see every day,” she said. “Big box is just not an interesting life. And I think San Franciscans, in general, don’t want that. It took a long time for Target to even get here.”


And then there are the people who live to share their love of the city with others — small tour operators who help travelers get the best experience of the city possible. Erik Hormann, for example, gives semi-private group tours out of vintage 1970s Volkswagen vans. Since a van fits no more than seven people, Erik can tailor the story he tells about the city to the interests of each group, giving travelers a more personalized experience.

Stuart Watts’ business brings a similar mentality to walking tours. He recognizes the very distinct difference between a tourist and a traveler, using local insights to help all travelers get off-the-beaten path .

“When you’re a tourist you get to look at things … but when you’re a traveler you’re experiencing places. You get to taste it, you smell it, you touch it. People are on their feet going into the deep secrets of the city.”

It’s those “deep secrets” — and the people behind them — that we aim to highlight with our merchants, makers and creatives (#mmc) series. Our mission is to tell the stories of  the entrepreneurs, artists and creators who make the city tick.

While most people are familiar with SF’s tech startups, these are the often untold stories of the small businesses that make the city what it is. From beer brewers to soap crafters, San Franciscans are doing what they love, and sharing that passion with others. With our #mmc series, we hope to share those passions with you.

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