Cost Plus World Market is kicking off a weekend of in-store events and shopping today at its flagship San Francisco store (2552 Taylor Street) to benefit local schools, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, running through Sunday, Oct, 26. Those of you in the Bay Area who stop by will enjoy live entertainment, product giveaways, food and drink samplings, winemaker bottle signings, henna painting, and more. There will also be a live broadcast of KGO-AM’s Gene Burns of “Dining Around With Gene Burns” from the store from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Chef Ryan Scott of Top Chef Season Four will host a cooking demonstration. While it sounds like a great weekend, and I certainly want to attend, I was actually more intrigued to learn about the history of the store. To hear how Cost Plus World Market came to be, read more.
In 1958, SF businessman William Amthor began selling rattan baskets and furniture he'd picked up during his regular travels to Asia and Europe along San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, a popular tourist destination and still-functioning wharf. The locals loved his imports and their affordable prices, and he soon opened the first Cost Plus World Market store (today still the flagship store) in San Francisco, naming it after his affordable pricing strategy: cost plus 10 percent. By the '60s and '70s, the store had become an eclectic mix of international products like Spanish pottery, African mosquito netting, Indonesian collectibles, and French coffee presses. And, in the 1960s, Cost Plus was the first to introduce the Papasan Chair, an iconic furniture design which is still popular with students 40 years later. Today, the retailer has a chain of nearly 300 stores, with inventory from well over 70 countries.