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Business Spotlight: Avant Garde

There's nothing second-hand about the customer service and bountiful inventory at this store.

1328 4th Street, San Rafael

(415) 485-4497, http://www.avantgardestore.com

Who Are They?

Gisela Greene was born, raised and educated in Germany. At age 21, she arrived in San Anselmo, with a German Professor and his family for a year abroad to help raise the children and educate them in two languages.

Although Greene returned home after one year in San Anselmo, she came back to the Bay Area a couple of years later and called it home for the last 40 years.

Having been an entrepreneur since her early 30s, Gisela opened Avantgarde as a consignment store for contemporary home furnishings and décor. It was her very strong desire to offer the local community a place to shop for exceptional items at much better prices than one could buy when purchasing new. Her goal was, and still is, to reduce humans' footprint on the planet and recycle as much existing “stuff” as possible and then recirculate them within the community.

What do they offer?

In recent years, the store has become more of a clothing boutique, providing stylish and affordable apparel for mature women.

Most of what Greene sold over the years was pre-owned, providing an existing story already connected to an item, which has never failed to intrigue and interest a prospective customer. She is still enchanted with the delight that those customers have telling their individual stories about their purchases.

How long have they been here?

Avantgarde opened in June 1994 in a small 500 square foot space on B Street in Downtown San Rafael.

Why are they in our spotlight?

As a resident and small business owner in San Rafael, Greene has participated as a board member of the Business Improvement District for 8 years and served as BID's president in the last year of her participation on the board.

She donates her time and energy in various forms in the local community and continues to stay informed around local business issues.

"As the founder," Greene said, "the most rewarding aspect of the business is the people that have graced my establishment over all these years and the ongoing relationship with many of the customers that have become friends."

Jonathan Frieman December 13, 2011 at 04:31 PM
A wonderful store run by a wonderful person.
Robin Linde December 13, 2011 at 06:58 PM
I love this store. I have purchased a variety of items over the years from a kitchen table and chairs, a gorgeous rug to earrings hand-made by a local artist. The inventory is unique and elegant. Gisela is a classy and gracious woman. Her inventory reflects her aesthetic and impeccable taste.
Lisa Long December 14, 2011 at 12:29 AM
This is one of my favorite places to shop in San Rafael. Great finds + great prices.
Leonard Ginsburg December 15, 2011 at 11:55 PM
A real success story. From small shop to expanded store to new, much bigger, location. Gisela is one of the best people in San Rafael. Why? Because she cares about the community, her business and her customers. More continued success. From your neighbor at Raffles Fans.

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