Piedmont Boutique was originally founded in 1972 at 4094-B Castro Street in the heart of the Castro District. Opened by husband and wife Karl and Donna Kaupp (who remain its current owners), the store carried fashion for women, including high-fashion glamour clothing, daywear, and accessories. Disco was all the rage at the time, and the store catered to those searching for disco wear as well as prom looks, fancy dressers going to clubs and concerts, and drag queens who, for the first time, were able to walk up the street in drag.
In October 1978, the Kaupps decided to close Piedmont Boutique in San Francisco and moved the store to Sedalia, Missouri, where it operated from 1978 to 1981.
But they found little success in the “Show Me” state, and the Kaupps returned to San Francisco and re-established Piedmont Boutique at 1524 Haight Street on March 1, 1981.
A year later, Piedmont Boutique started factory-producing their own earring and accessory line and the shop moved again, this time to their current location at 1452 Haight Street. After the stock market crash of 1987, Piedmont decided to further expand their manufacturing business to include clothing. They continue to sell and manufacture their own products to this day, and about 80 percent of the products sold in the store are produced by Piedmont Boutique in San Francisco.
In 1995, Piedmont installed what is perhaps the shop’s (and arguably the Haight-Ashbury’s) best-known feature: a pair of large fishnet-covered legs and red high heeled shoes emerging from a window above the storefront. The legs were produced by artists Barry and Kat, from the company Back to the Drawing Board Signs. The legs have become iconic all over the world and have been featured in covers of travel guides to San Francisco.
As of July 2022, Piedmont Boutique is an applicant for San Francisco’s Legacy Business Registry. Their application is currently in review by the Office of Small Business, and once approved a hearing will be scheduled with the Historic Preservation Commission for further review.
For our Heritage in the Neighborhoods: Haight-Ashbury month, we partnered with manufacturer PSA Press to produce a set of three new legacy business pins featuring Aub Zam Zam, FTC Skateboarding, and Piedmont Boutique. It was a no-brainer to choose Piedmont’s iconic legs to represent the business!
Each week in the month of August 2022, cast your vote for the Haight’s next legacy business for a chance to win a pin set. Public voting ends on August 31 at 5:00 PM PST.