Shop Talk: All Natural Stone; Phone Repair Hut; Urbanity; Upper Playground; C&C Cleaners

Urbanity owner Angela Cadogan welcomes customers to the re-opening of her store on Solano Avenue. Photo: Urbanity

URBANITY The move into a neighboring space on Solano Avenue is now complete for women’s clothing consignment boutique Urbanity. The new space was previously occupied by The Fickle Bag and, before that, by Oh Baby Baby, but had been vacant for about three years.  “After 10 great years serving our North Berkeley community, Urbanity has re-opened at 1885 Solano Ave. We’ve settled into our new environment quickly, we’re back in business and have heard lots of positive feedback from our clients on our updated space. We are so fortunate and happy to remain in the community to serve the beautifully eclectic women of Berkeley and its neighbors,” owner Angela Cadogan said. Urbanity Women’s Designer Resale, 1885 Solano Ave. (near The Alameda), Berkeley 94707. Tel: 510-524-7467. Open Tues. through Thurs., noon to 5:30 p.m., Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun., noon to 5 p.m. Closed on Mondays. Connect on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Import Tile, Co. is now All Natural Stone. New showroom pictured here is opening in April.
Photo: ANS

ALL NATURAL STONE Import Tile Co. has re-invented itself. On Nov. 1, previous owner Bill DeCarion sold his business to Larry Perez, Jeff Bonomi and Juan Vasquez who renamed it All Natural Stone. Import Tile had served the local community for almost 40 years, selling tile from Italy, Spain, Mexico, Tunisia as well as wares from other companies. All Natural Stone (ANS) opened in San Jose 18 years ago and now has four stores in the Bay Area — San Jose, Burlingame, Dublin and, now, Berkeley. A slab importer, ANS has a large inventory of stone slabs from all over the world, as well as over 100 vendors of fine porcelain and stone tile. DeCarion saw a golden opportunity to retire and pass the baton to an established company with expertise in tile and stone sales. ANS said it will continue to offer imported tiles at the reasonable prices that Import Tile was known for. A huge variety of stone slabs are available including exotic Brazilian Quartzite, Italian Marble, Limestone, Travertine and Onyx. ANS also sells handmade tile from Pt. Reyes, artisan tiles from all over the U.S. and a collection of tile vendors providing the best selection of designer brands. “All Natural Stone Berkeley sees ‘Design Center East’ being created, eliminating the need for long trips to the city for specifics like Artistic Tile, AKDO, Country Floors, New Ravenna, Lunada Bay, Sonoma Tilemakers, Pratt & Larson and Encore Ceramics,” store spokesperson Audrey Kral said. “We have everything designers, architects and homeowners need to compliment the West Berkeley Design Loop vendors and Fourth Street stores. All Natural Stone, 611 Hearst Ave. (near Second Street), Berkeley 94710. Tel: 888-843-5959. Open Mon. – Fri., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sundays.

A second location for Phone Repair Hut is now open in the Gourmet Ghetto. Photo: PRH

PHONE REPAIR HUT In a little nook of a place on Vine Street, previously used by Black Oak Books as a storage annex, Phone Repair Hut has opened its second Berkeley location. The store, which specializes in, well, phone repairs, had a soft opening on Nov. 17, and opened more completely in December. The business, established in 2016, is co-owned by Axel Olson and Oliver Lorenz who grew the idea out of a passion for technology, entrepreneurship and DIY culture. Other stores are located on Durant Avenue (near Telegraph), a flagship store on College Avenue in Rockridge, and a fourth store on Park Street in Alameda, which opened last July. The Durant Avenue store has an extra perk: while you wait for service, free beer tokens are issued for Tap Haus across the street. Phone Repair Hut2111 Vine St., (near Shattuck), Berkeley. Tel: 510-379-9769. Open Mon. – Sat., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun., noon to 6. 

Urban clothing and accessories boutique Upper Playground is closing on Telegraph Avenue this month. Photo: Sean Rouse

UPPER PLAYGROUND Upper Playground, the boutique store featuring street art, books, eclectic accessories, clothing and collectibles, is closing after over nine years on Telegraph Avenue. It will shut its doors on, or around, Feb. 18, according to store owner Matt Yep, who also co-owns the company as a whole. Yep said the lease is up and it made more sense for the business to consolidate inventory into its flagship store at 220 Fillmore St. (Lower Haight) in San Francisco. The Berkeley store will  have a gradated sale for its remaining days with merchandise from 30-50% off. “It’s been fun and we appreciate all the support and patronage,” Yep said. Upper Playground, 2509 Telegraph Ave. (at Dwight Way), Berkeley 94704. Tel: 510-649-0740. Currently open Tues. – Sun., noon to 7  p.m. Flagship store in San Francisco, additional store in Portland, OR. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Elmwood’s C&C Cleaners is closing soon. Photo: C&C Cleaners

C&C CLEANERS Part of an ongoing slew of closures in the popular retail neighborhood, C&C Cleaners in the Elmwood is closing, sometime between Feb. 20 and 25, according to store owner Myung Suk Han. His nephew opened the business in 2012, then returned to Korea in 2013, leaving Han to take over in his absence. Han said the rent was way too high to stay afloat and he tried negotiating with building owner, Dana Ellsworth, on a partial payment recently. “The owner agreed to a temporary hold on the rent but a few days later I received notice to leave,” Han said. Han will continue running his other business, Melody Cleaners, in San Leandro. C&C Cleaners, 2942 College Ave. (at Ashby), Berkeley 94705. Tel: 510-845-2838. Currently open Mon. – Fri., 7 a.m. to 7 p.m and Sat., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Sundays.

UPDATE: After publication, Dana Ellsworth, Commercial Lessors, Inc. Real Estate, reached out to Berkeleyside and asked if she could respond to our report on C&C Cleaners closing. Her statement: “We have heard from several members of the community that they are sorry to lose the C&C Cleaners. We are as well. We normally would not comment on a tenant leaving our building but felt compelled to clarify Mr. Han’s comments [in post above]. He mentioned receiving a notice a few days after our meeting, but he was not given only a few days notice of his eviction! We are a family business also and try to work things out with our tenants when we can. We have had C&C Cleaners as a tenant since we acquired the building, with the lease already in place, in the 1990s. There have been a few changes of ownership during that time. Mr. Han purchased the business with his nephew in 2012. He had not had any rent increases other than to keep up with inflation, during his tenancy. He paid his bills with us and seemed to be doing fine managing both of his cleaning businesses until about 9 months ago. We met in December to discuss his account and agreed on a payment plan. During our meeting Mr. Han told me that earlier in 2017 he had health issues that kept him from supervising the businesses on a day to day basis and that was what had put him off track. However, despite our agreement to defer his rent payments, he never made any additional payments after our meeting. I called on January 12th to tell him that he would be evicted in one month, if he did not start making payments. I suggested another meeting.  However he declined further contact, made no payments and was evicted today (Feb. 14, 2018), two months after our meeting and with one months’ notice of the date of eviction.”

Shop Talk is Berkeleyside’s regular Berkeley local business column. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleyside reader who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, shoot us an email with the details at editors@berkeleyside.com. Read previous Shop Talk columns. And catch up with all food business news with our Nosh coverage.