Shop Talk: Crate & Barrel; Braid Bar & Beauty; Hands-On!; Uchi; Mad Monk

Crate & Barrel Outlet Store on Fourth Street is closing the end of March. Photo: Crate & Barrel

CRATE & BARREL OUTLET STORE The longtime retailer on Fourth Street in Berkeley is closing its doors on, or around, March 25, according to C&B spokeswoman Jill Assad. After nearly 30 years at that location, the landlord will not be renewing the lease, she said. The outlet will be moving to a location “in the surrounding area” — with timing and location specifics to be announced at a later date. There will be no formal closing event, though customers have been notified of some specific promotions. “We are grateful for the associates in our Berkeley store who have served our customers with passion and care for nearly 30 years. As a company, Crate & Barrel is thriving. We look forward to serving our customers at one of our seven Crate & Barrel stores in the Northern California area or online,” Assad said. Crate & Barrel, 1785 4th St., Berkeley 94710. Tel: 510-528-5500. The store is currently open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Mad Monk on Telegraph Avenue closed suddenly last month. Photo: Mad Monk

MAD MONK Mad Monk Center for Anachronistic Media closed suddenly at the end of February after just two years in business on Telegraph Avenue. Mad Monk opened in 2016 in the former Cody’s Books location, which closed in 2006 and stood empty for 10 years after that. The place specialized in new and used books and records, priding itself on being all analog and so digital-free.

A key employee who says he spent ten years creating Mad Monk posted on his Facebook page that the ending came abruptly. “The owner suddenly shut down the business this week and laid off the staff, including me.” Mad Monk owner Ken Sarachan, who also owns Rasputin Music on the avenue, as well as the vacant lot north of Amoeba Music, was not available for comment. He had high ambitions for the business before it opened, however. In 2013, he spoke of it one day having “the best assembly of records anywhere in California” and being like City Lights in San Francisco, with a program of speakers. He also planned a 50-seat restaurant and full bar called Commissar, as well as a performance space where he would host “gangster rappers,” among others. Mad Monk’s vinyl records have been transferred over to Rasputin’s according to Berkeleyside contributor Ted Friedman. Mad Monk, 2454 Telegraph Ave. A Facebook page is still accessible as of this writing.

Braid Bar & Beauty is now open in Berkeley. Photo: Braid Bar & Beauty

BRAID BAR & BEAUTY Braid Bar & Beauty has opened a second location in the space formerly occupied by Gina Beauty Supply on Adeline Street. Owner Rika Hunter opened her first shop in Oakland in 2012, specializing in braiding, twisting and extensions for men, women and children. Along with co-owner Kahara Morris, the Berkeley shop opened its doors on Feb. 1 as a full-service salon and beauty supply retailer. Both women grew up in the area and felt expansion in their own community was important to their company. “We love being able to give back and provide services that enhance people in our neighborhood on a daily basis,” Hunter said. She added that she and her family shopped in this very location for their own beauty supplies for many years. “Once I heard that Gina’s Beauty Supply was closing, I immediately contacted the building owner to express my interest in the space,” she said. Hunter added she is looking for interns as well as experienced braiders and licensed cosmetologists to work at the salon. Braid Bar Hair Salon, 3300 Adeline St. (at Alcatraz),  Berkeley 94703. Tel: 510-200-1723. Also at 6425 Shattuck Ave., Oakland, 94609. Open for appointments daily except for Tues., from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Connect on Facebook and Instagram.


Hands-On! is a new STEAM center for kids in Berkeley. Photo: Hands-On!

HANDS-ON! A new kind of play date has arrived, offering hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math activities (aka STEAM) for kids ages 1-11. This includes drop-in and drop-off sessions, after-school classes, summer camps and birthday parties. Hands On!, whose tag line is “invent. create. discover”, opened on Jan. 30. Owner/Director Tracy Hollander has deep roots in the community having lived here for 12 years, and taught in public school. She’s been a member of the PTA Executive Board for 10 years. She is also currently vice chair of the Berkeley Public Schools Fund board of directors. “Berkeley residents have a real love and appreciation for science and creativity so I wanted to provide a space for our youngest to experiment and create to their hearts’ content, both alongside their families and independently,” Hollander said. When friend and business owner Genevieve Sanders, whose Faces Skin Studio formerly occupied the space, planned to move to Nevada, she let Hollander know about the upcoming vacancy. “I am so glad she did,” Hollander said, “I love all of my neighbors. They have been so supportive and helpful! We are an amazingly family-friendly block.” Hands-On!, 1411 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Berkeley 94709. Tel: 510-985-9222. Open Tues., Thurs. Fri., 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 – 3, Wed., 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and  1-4 p.m., Sat.,  9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Closed Sun. and Mon. Visit the website or connect on Facebook and Instagram

Uchi, a new showroom for furniture is having a grand opening on Saturday, March 10.  Photo: Uchi

UCHI A former employee of The Wooden Duck , which closed last year, is reviving the spirit of  the much-loved furniture maker. Yo Akino, who worked at The Wooden Duck for 22 years, had a soft opening of hew new store, Uchi, on March 3, and plans a grand opening on Saturday, March 10. The San Pablo Avenue store was also formerly a furniture store — Fenton MacLaren — for 25 years, and Akino felt it was a good location  to start her own furniture store. The name, Uchi, which means house in Japanese, is a nod to Akino’s heritage and she hopes her furniture will help people fill their houses and create homes. The store sells products from the same supplier as The Wooden Duck, and includes teak garden furniture along with recycled teak indoor furniture, French Fermob metal outdoor furniture, as well as home decor products such as vases, kantha throws, rugs, glasswear, serving boards and jewelry. Akino, who is a Berkeley native, graduated from BHS in 1985 and raised her daughter here. “I am excited to open my own business and keep providing the Bay Area community with the quality affordable teak garden furniture that The Wooden Duck was known for,” she said. “I hope to eventually expand to offering more and even produce my own lines of furniture and home goods.” Uchi, 1325 San Pablo Ave., Tel: 510-775-7580 . Open Mon. through Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun., Noon to 5 p.m. The website is currently under construction. Connect on Facebook and Instagram.

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.