A San Francisco company called Appel & Frank wants to turn shopping into a party. Much like designer flea markets, Appel & Frank's quarterly shopping events bring together dozens of local designers for a night of eating, drinking, primping, and, of course, buying. The company was founded in 2003 by childhood friends Karen Appel and Jody Frank, who wanted to give women a new kind of girl's night out.

For each event, Appel & Frank rents out a space, then invites local merchants to set up booths peddling clothing, handbags, jewelry, baby clothes, stationery, and other gifts. Guests pay $10 to get in, which gets them a free cocktail, cheap finger food (last time it was amazingly delish sushi), and complimentary beauty treatments from the likes of Benefit Cosmetics and Bliss Spa. It's a helluva lot more fun than shopping at a mall, and you get to support local artisans to boot. So far, Appel & Frank has only hosted events in the Bay Area, but by next year, it plans to roll out to other West Coast cities. The company also just launched a shopping event especially for moms, called Babes and Babies, the first of which will be held in San Francisco Sept. 30.

Photos by Terri Loewenthal