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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

ACROSS THE WAY  Walgreens opened the doors Monday to its new and larger store at 2190 Shattuck Avenue at Allston Way, right across the street from its old location (the pharmacy department will open tomorrow). The new store is 5,000 sq ft larger and is full of items that appeal to the student population: fresh produce, fresh coffee, ready-to-eat take out food like salads, and items to decorate a dorm room or apartment. As Shop Talk reported in December 2011, Sansome Pacific bought the building, which once housed the Ross Department store, and extensively remodeled it. Nokia, the smart phone manufacturer, has rented 10,000 square feet of space for a research center on the top floor, according to Aileen Dolby of Collier’s International. The company used to have about 4,200 sq ft of space on University Avenue.

HAND-CRAFTED SUPPLIES GIVE WAY TO OFFICE SUPPLIES  For 36 years, Ethnic Arts has been selling wares and crafts from around the world, first on College Avenue, and from the Gilman Village Complex for the last 18 years. Change is now at hand. Foothill Partners from Sacramento has bought the complex at Tenth and Gilman Streets and has recruited Office Depot to move from its spot at 1025 Gilman into the Ethnic Arts space. Owner Eleanor Hopewell isn’t sure where the store will go next when it moves out at the end of 2012, but is determined there will be another chapter. She intends to increase the company’s online presence with a blog and more sales, and is keeping her eyes open for a new space.

NO OPENING IN SIGHT  Shop Talk has received numerous hopeful inquiries about a liquor license application posted on the façade of the shuttered Oaks Theater on Solano Avenue. The application does not mean the owner, John Gordon, has found a tenant for the theater, which closed in January 2011. He is applying for a liquor permit for any possible future tenants, he said.

Shop Talk is Berkeleyside’s regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses — openings, closings, new directions, relaunches, relocations. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleysider who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, shoot us an email with the details. Read previous Shop Talk columns here.

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out All the News.

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  • Andrew

    How do you obtain a liquor permit for an unoccupied space with an uncertain purpose?

    Ethnic Arts should consider one of the empty storefronts on Upper Solano. Much foot traffic and more exposure. Is Office Depot taking up just the Ethnic Arts space or the entire complex? 

  • Workin2hard

    So Office Depot and T-Rex will be sharing the same parking lot?  Interesting “free parking” challenge in an area already impacted by meters.  There must be more to this story.  

  • TN

    There shouldn’t be too much time overlap between the customers of an office supply store and a restaurant/bar. At least I don’t ever go to an office supply store after 5 pm and I don’t ever go out to eat before 6 pm. The parking meter hours end at 6 pm.

  • Workin2hard

    Currently Office Depot is open on Gilman from 9 – 9 and the restaurant is open for lunch through 10 and there are other store fronts on the property.  

  • Sydthekyd

    Why would Office Depot want to make that move and what will happen to their current building?

  • Charles_Siegel

    I just went to look in Walgreens.  It looked to me like its main offering was junk food: an aisle of cookies, an aisle of chips, an aisle of candy bars.  There was a smaller area with fruits, salads, and health ready-to-heat meals, but far more space for junk food.  Likewise, the refrigerated area had maybe 30 feet of soda and 3 feet of milk.  Drugstore stuff (eg, aspirin) is in the back, and the front (with much more area) is devoted primarily to food, with some space for household goods.  No wonder obesity is America’s number-one health problem.

    They also have generic souvenirs.  Eg, they have a snow-globe that obviously is used for every city in California. It includes a palm tree, an ocean, a surfer, and the city name – which does not quite make sense when the city name is Berkeley. 

  • TizziLish

    I venture to guess that the ratio of highly processed edible crappola (cookies, chips, candy bars, etc) and fresh food is not all that different at Walgreens that at a Safeway. Yes, Safeways have large fresh produce departments & fresh meat/poultry, etc. but look at the ratios of how store space is allocated.

    The CVS downtown also devotes a huge amount of space to food, even have a small produce rack with fruit & some vegies.The real problem is how we handle food in this culture:  we subsidize corporate farming to produce cheap grains. Those subsidies ultimately subsidized all the processed crappola in the Walgreens, so we the people pay to make this nonnutritious sorta food available.
    and subsidizing grain also subsidizes the productoin of meat:  we grow food to grow good when we feed grain to cattle, chickens, pigs, etc. and the animals pollute with methane, pollute the water, and growing the food to grow meat uses water and the pesticides pollute the water tables. .. and on and on it goes. . . and most of theprofit goes to private shareholders and most of the cost is borne by the taxpayers/the public.Walgreens is part of the problem, yes indeed.When Oxford Plaza was initially invisioned, which is built on a city-owned parking long, as is David Brower, which benefited greatly from the city’s ownership of the parking lot, there was walk of the retail sapce in Oxford Plaza having a real food store but the owners, RCD couldn’t rent any of the retail space and now their offices are in the space that might have made a decent sied real food store.  I wish the city has decided to invest in a real frocery store. We the city invest in parking, why not invest in accessible food? If the private sector can’t meet the need for residents downtown, why not run a public grocery store with the profits (such as they woudl be — and remebmer there would be benfits to the community beyond money). . . I’m pontificating this evening, eh?

  • Chrisjuricich

    Isn’t getting a business started in Berkeley still a major PITA, or am I operating on unproven conventional wisdom? Which is why, supposedly, so many restaurants go to Oakland to start rather than here?

  • Chrisjuricich

    The fact that this new Walgreens downtown has fresh produce and groceries I’m sure is a godsend to students and any downtown who seek such, but at the same time, it’s plain that a decent grocery store downtown would be a decided benefit. All we have currently is Trader Joe’s which I visit only occasionally and is less convenient for folks who might otherwise go downtown for groceries.

    Is there a reason why downtown doesn’t have even a small grocery of some kind? Is it due to the rents being possibly so skewed high? Just a guess.

  • Guest

     There’s always the EZ Stop…

  • guest

    Maybe a new little grocery store can replace ACE Hardware after the move. 

  • SarahS

     There used to be a small grocery store on that same block as ACE when I went to UC in the ’60s. I’d shop there on the way home.