Contemporary Furniture for Sale in Potrero Hill

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Blu Dot’s front entrance at 99 Missouri Street. Photo: Odin Thien-An Marin

At the corner of 17th and Missouri streets a freshly renovated building showcases table sets and armchairs vended by Blu Dot San Francisco. With its design center in Minneapolis, Blu Dot Design and Manufacturing has stores in twelve cities throughout the world, including New York, Sydney, and Mexico City. The company brings products that won the 2018 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award to Potrero Hill.

Founded by Maurice Blanks, John Christakos, and Charlie Lazor in 1997, Blu Dot engages in the entire process of bringing products to customers, including development, manufacturing, and marketing.

“We strive for our products to be beautiful, practical, approachable, long-lasting, and a little fun,” said Maurice Blanks, Chief Operating Officer. “We’re not about high luxury or obnoxious consumption. And I think our values sit nicely with the vibe that I get from our neighbors in Potrero Hill.” 

Blu Dot’s first San Francisco store opened in 2013. Located next to a cluster of Valencia Street restaurants, at 5,000 square feet it was the company’s largest at the time. It had its drawbacks, such as parking challenges. When the lease expired – a new owner purchased the property with the intention of converting it to a dispensary – Blu Dot decided to relocate to the Hill, to a building formerly occupied by Arch Art Supplies and Anthony’s Auto Body Shop.

“We hired the architect and launched into design in spring 2019,” said Blanks. “The first step in the City approval process was to get a Conditional Use Authorization because we were changing the use of one of the buildings. We were finally granted the CUA in March 2020, just as the City was shutting down due to the initial wave of COVID.” 

“We liked being near the Design Center and some of the other furniture retailers to the west,” Blanks said. “But we also liked staking out our own ground to the east in a more residential neighborhood, where our customers live. We were also intrigued by all of the activity happening to the east near the new stadium. And lastly, we love being neighbors with a creative institution like CCA and the young, ambitious energy that comes with that.”

Jim Huff, Blu Dot San Francisco’s store manager, does a power pose for the photo. Photo: Odin Thien-An Marin

Blu Dot’s move to 99 Missouri has substantially cleaned up the block. The property was transformed from a long vacant building to a 13,000 square feet store. Adjacent sidewalks were re-poured; trees replanted. There’s a back patio to showcase outdoor collections and a parking lot. 

“We hope neighbors will see us as a living, breathing part of the neighborhood. We hope folks will stop in and say hello to our amazing, friendly staff. Store manager Jim Huff is indeed one of those characters who love to engage and meet new people and hear their stories; the type of person who gets nicknamed “The Mayor.” As for our role, we want to be a positive force in making the neighborhood a better place to be and live. We believe in the power of good design, and we’ve already transformed the corner of Missouri and 17th from a derelict, abandoned site that was a real sore spot for the neighborhood into a beautiful, new urban presence that we humbly suggest is pretty special,” said Blanks. 

Behind the store, groundbreaking has begun at 901 16th Street after permits were issued for a $40 million renovation of the former Cor-O-Van warehouse property. The historic Judson-Pacific Murphy Corporation building and warehouses will be combined to become the new home of the San Francisco Wholesale Flower Market, with a parking structure slated to be added as well.