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About Paxton Gate

Paxton Gate was founded in December of 1992 by two landscape designers whose inspiration came from a fascination with the natural world. In its original incarnation, Paxton Gate was an eccentric gardening store with a hint of the natural sciences – a forum in which to present not only interesting and unique gardening merchandise but to feature items inspired by the garden and the natural world. But soon after its inception, a predilection for the more bizarre side of nature became apparent, and oddities such as the insects and taxidermy began to creep onto the scene.

After almost seven years in business at an out-of-the-way location on Stevenson Street in San Francisco, Paxton Gate moved to its current, much larger location. The move, primarily instigated by a need for more space, afforded room to branch out into new areas including furniture, vintage and antique architectural elements, jewelry and a growing selection of books, all of which adhere to a common aesthetic and style which Paxton Gate describes as "treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and the natural sciences".

In addition to its eclectic line of retail products, Paxton Gate offers distinctive landscape design and construction for residential gardens as well as commercial landscapes. We specialize in stonework and fine carpentry, unique plant selection and in making creative use of small spaces.

Sean Quigley, one of the founders, now owns Paxton Gate. Quigley has worked and lived in San Francisco's Mission District since the early 1990's, and through Paxton Gate supports many local organizations including San Francisco Women Against Rape, Caral, Swing for Choice, The National Aids Memorial Grove, The Randal Museum Friends, The San Francisco Naturalists Society, and more. He is an avid collector of Bromeliads (one of Paxton Gate's specialties), which he grows in his Mission greenhouse.

Philosophies

We at Paxton Gate are fascinated by the natural world. Taxidermy, along with animal skulls and skeletons are among the many items that our customers purchase online and in the stores. We want you to know that we go out of our way to source items that have either died of natural causes or were otherwise trapped and euthanized in humane ways as part of animal care and control programs intended to manage wildlife populations.  In some cases, individual animals are collected and euthanized by licensed nuisance trappers.  Additionally, all of the baby livestock (deer, boars, ostrich, etc.) that we occasionally carry were stillborn or died shortly after birth of natural causes.  Finally, some of the larger and game items are vintage pieces and were taken many years ago, and therefore sourcing is hard to confirm. Others come from areas where certain animals are much more common than they are here, and licensed hunters are required to meet legal quotas, again as part of a system of wildlife management. We do not support the trade of poached or endangered animals nor cruel ranching practices.

Insects are often collected in their native habitats by people indigenous to the same locale.   This regulated practice gives these native peoples the means to make an income off the surrounding habitat by keeping it in its natural state and even in some cases reforesting with native, host plants intended for particular species.  In the end the effect on insect populations is positive whereas the alternative—loss of habitat whether due to farming, development and/or pesticide use—is in fact the true danger.  Our insects are often from South-East Asia but also endemic to the Americas, Africa, Madagascar, and other regions of the world.  Many of the larger and bird-wing butterflies are ranched by conservationists who release about 50% of what they raise and sell the remainder to fund their organizations thereby helping to replenish threatened species in the wild.

Occasionally questions arise as to the ethical nature of some of the items we carry that we have not answered here or elsewhere on the site. If you require additional information, or if you have information you think may be valuable to us, please contact us by e-mail or mail and we will do our best to answer your question or consider your thoughts.