SF boutique highlights crafts made by people with special needs

The season of giving is here, and the Helper’s Artisans Boutique in San Francisco may be the perfect place to browse. But to many, the shop is a gift in itself.

"The boutique is very special and unique," Marilyn Harrison, the shop;'s marketing director, said. "The fact that it is only product and art created by individuals with developmental disabilities and special needs."

The boutique is part of The Helper’s Community, a San Francisco-based grant-giving non-profit dedicated to helping adults with special needs.   

The shop opened in 2019 and has been filled with beautiful handcrafted gifts since.

The shop sells a variety of items, ranging from ornaments, jams and jellies to candles and artwork. Everything is made by artisans with developmental disabilities. 

The shop's executive director, Harry Harrison, said it’s the perfect holiday stop for many reasons.  

"Now when someone comes in the store, most of the time if not all, it converts to a sale," Harrison said.  "They either feel as if they want to support our mission or they see something that is such a great gift item they don't walk out without something in their pockets."

Shopper Tony Rems couldn’t resist a good buy.  His sister is deaf, he said the thought of giving back made his purchase all the more special.  

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"There's just so many wonderful people in this community," Rems said. "They are just so caring and loving people, loyal and wonderful.  So, the ability to help and give back means the world to me."

Each item has its own story. Max Boehme's, a New England native, creates heart stationery that has gained global popularity. 

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The shop is finding a way to give back in different ways. Boutique worker Christopher Morioka, the shop's supervisor, is a member of ARC-SF a non-profit that gives a voice to people who are developmentally disabled, and in this case a job.  

"I love working here and learning how to socialize with customers," Morioka said.  

Morioka is a mentor to others, like intern Paul Arnott.  Morioka said mentoring makes him feel good and is a way to give back to others. 

"I feel good," Morioka said. "I feel relaxed knowing they are other people like myself."  

The Helper’s Community Boutique is located on Union Street and 100% of their sales go towards their mission of helping the developmental disabled.