The good news: Penzeys, the Wiconsin-based mail-order supplier of some of the highest-quality spices in the country, has opened a retail shop
in the Bay Area. The bad news: it's in Menlo Park, so quite a schlep for most SF residents. The store's at 771 Santa Cruz (the main drag), about 10 minutes from 101 and just a few blocks from the Caltrain station.
I buy most of my spices locally, but a few of Penzeys' are so superior that I find them worth the trouble. On my visit to the new shop, I purchased a half-ounce bag of Turkish bay leaves and four-ounce bags of Tellicherry peppercorns, ground Vietnamese cassia, and powdered ginger. The total bill came to $17.94, the same as it would on the Web site, but I saved the $5.95 shipping. I'd also have bought a bag of whole cumin, but they were out, so that's a minus for the bricks-and-mortar approach.