Category Archives: Local business

Photos: The early days of Berkeley’s now-gone Print Mint

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When the Reprint Mint closed in late November, Telegraph Avenue and Berkeley lost another portal to our past. It was an important cultural institution for more than 50 years.

Don and Alice Schenker opened the Print Mint as a picture-framing shop on Telegraph Avenue in 1965. … Continue reading »

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Storyteller Joel ben Izzy has new book on Hanukkah (or Channukah or Chhhanukah or Chanaykayah)

Joel Ben Izzy
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Joel ben Izzy has been regaling audiences around the globe for years with his delightful stories, many with a Jewish twist. A graduate of Stanford University and a long-time Berkeley resident, ben Izzy brings humor and pathos to the tales he spins. He has performed and led workshops in 35 countries (he is also a story consultant, helping companies and organizations better tell their own stories), and his six recorded story collections have garnered numerous awards.

Ben Izzy wrote his first book, The Beggar King and the Secret to Happiness, after he  unexpectedly lost his voice, threatening his career. Now he has written a fictionalized prequel of sorts geared to middle-school kids 10 and over. (Although it is a fun read for adults, too). Ben Izzy will be talking about Dreidels on the Brain all around the Bay Area in December (just in time for Hanukkah, which is spelled every which way in the book) with his first appearance Thursday at Books, Inc. in Berkeley at 7:00 p.m. Berkeleyside caught up with the author before his book tour began.

You have been a teller of stories for more than 30 years, mostly in oral form. You wrote one book for adults, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness. Why did you decide to write a book for kids over 10?

For one thing, I love telling stories to kids that age, when there is so much at stake. I wanted a chance to go back to that time, when I was miserable and confused, wondering whether I should believe in magic or miracles or anything at all.

Dreidels on the Brain is also something of a prequel to my first book. The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness is a memoir, set in modern times, based on the true story of the journey that began when I awoke from surgery to discover I could no longer speak. That book included a couple forays into my childhood and the stories of my family — my mother’s smile, my father’s inventions and my grandmother’s insanity. Readers told me they wanted to hear more, the story behind the story.

Technically, Dreidels on the Brain is a novel, or perhaps a “fictionalized memoir.”  Because it’s set in 1971, when I was 12, it’s now considered “Historical fiction.” Oy! I was going for “Hysterical fiction,” but what can you do? … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: Jeremy’s, Utrecht, Patelco, Hannah’s

Hannah's on Solano is now online only    Photo: Gill South
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JEREMY’S DEPARTMENT STORE Jeremy’s in the Elmwood is no more. The discounted designer apparel store had been at its 2967 College Ave. (at Ashby) location since the 1990s and closed for good on Nov. 20. According to a farewell letter that was posted on the store’s website, Jeremy’s did not have financial difficulties and was in profit when it shuttered. Owner Jeremy Kidson opened the first Jeremy’s store in 1987 in San Francisco’s South Park. He closed that store last year and made plans to consolidate both the SF and Berkeley stores into a converted church after buying the First Church of Christ Scientist at 1701 Franklin St. in Uptown Oakland. But, according to the East Bay Times, Kidson hit several roadblocks while trying to develop the space for retail, including permit delays, and he ran out of steam on the project. Kidson said: “From here, I will work on establishing a foundation to help kids from underprivileged backgrounds and continue my never-ending pursuit to help the underdog, along with some other ideas I have. I will still be finishing the Franklin building to serve as my home base and maybe even open a little café.” No news yet on new tenants for the vacated space on College and Ashby. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: Yaza, Sahaira, HG Rugs, Games of Berkeley

Photo: Yaza Couture
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HG RUGS is closing. In business since 1928, HG Rugs, or Henry Gertmenian Co. Rugs, at 1006 University Ave. (at Ninth) will be closing its doors after liquidating its inventory of more than 6,000 rugs. HG Rugs is the oldest and largest distributor and importer of handmade rugs in the U.S., including Persian traditional, contemporary, antique and tribal rugs. The company got its start in Los Angeles in 1927 and moved to San Francisco in 1928. In his elder years, Henry urged his sons Al and Paul Germenian, who were scholars and accomplished businessmen, to take over the business. The sons honored his wishes, carrying on the business even after their father passed away. In 2014, the company’s lease was quadrupled and it moved to its current location in Berkeley at 1006 University Ave. Current owner and family friend, Anthony Jalili, tells Berkeleyside that he took over the store last year when sons Paul, age 83 and Al, age 79, expressed their desire to retire. Having less success at the Berkeley location since its move, the company has decided to close its doors. It will close permanently once the inventory has been liquidated. Jalili anticipates that will take from 2-5 months. Henry Gertmenian Co. Rugs, 1006 University Ave., Berkeley 94710, Tel: 510-990 6352. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Continue reading »

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Berkeley clothing company Harvest & Mill has a mantra: ‘You are what you wear’

Harvest & Mill founders Paul Wallace and Natalie Patricia      Photo: Harvest & Mill
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We all know the phrase, “you are what you eat” and we certainly take that seriously in the Bay Area where the heart of local, sustainable and organic practices beats fervently and strong. But what about extending that ethos to the clothing industry, with the same level of commitment? Harvest & Mill, a clothing company with a design studio based in Berkeley — and sewing mills in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco — does just that by providing a product that is organic, locally grown and manufactured using sustainable practices from seed to seams.

Founders Natalie Patricia and Paul Wallace are both self-described “jacks-of-all-trades.” Patricia, an East Coast native who has lived in Berkeley since 2009, has worked as a farmhand and gardener and started designing and sewing custom clothes one piece at a time in 2012. Wallace, originally from Cork, Ireland was the original organizer of the Heirloom Expo and manager of the Petaluma Seed Bank. He homesteaded in Sonoma for over ten years and has known about the benefits of pure fiber for decades. Together, the pair are sowing the seeds of the “grown and sewn” revolution in a community that provides fertile ground.

Setting up shop in North-West Berkeley because they feel that “Berkeley is amazing” the founders extol the virtues, “From the Marina to the Hills, Berkeley has always inspired industrial artists, intellectuals and mavericks. If you are doing something interesting, come to Berkeley! The Bay Area also has farming and manufacturing within ten miles of each other which is remarkably unique.” Currently, they sell their product line mostly online and to like-minded organizations. … Continue reading »

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Target to open new Berkeley store on University Avenue

Target Express downtown Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Update, Nov. 11: Berkeleyside reader Ian Crew asked Target on Twitter when the University Avenue store might open, pointing them to this story. The reply? “We can’t release the official date. But keep in mind, Target only opens new stores three times a year, in March, July and October.”

Original story: Target will open a store at 1414 University Ave. in Berkeley on the site of the former Savers Thrift and, before that, Andronico’s. It will be the second central Berkeley location for Target, which opened a Target Express in downtown last year.

Kristy Welker from Target’s communications department confirmed Target had “signed a lease for a new store on University Avenue in downtown Berkeley.” Welker said she was was able to share any additional information at this point.

Several neighbors in the central Berkeley area said they had observed crews at work on the site, whose cross street is Acton Street, and heard rumors it was being developed for Target. … Continue reading »

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State watchdog agency investigates $790,540 donated to Yes on Measure DD campaign

Election 2016 campaign lawn signs. Photo: Kelly Owen
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The Fair Political Practices Commission has launched an investigation into whether the supporters of Yes on Measure DD may have violated the financial disclosure requirements of the Political Reform Act.

The FPPC mailed a letter Wednesday to the Berkeley Property Owners’ Association and the “Committee for Real Affordable Housing – Yes on Measure DD, No on Measure U1, Sponsored by the Berkeley Property Owners’ Association,” alerting them that an investigation had started.

“At this time we have not made any determination in this matter,” said the letter, signed by Galena West, chief of the enforcement division. “We are simply providing you with this information and will be contacting you again regarding this matter.”

The investigation stems from an Oct. 16 complaint lodged by UC Berkeley’s Progressive Student Alliance. The group contended that the Berkeley Property Owners’ Association listed donations for the Yes on Measure DD and no on Measure U1 campaigns as coming from various LLCs and properties rather than individuals. … Continue reading »

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Safeway to buy, rebrand Andronico’s Markets

Andronico's. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Eighty-seven years after founding its first grocery store in Berkeley, the Andronico’s name will disappear for good by the end of 2016, after being acquired by Safeway.

Safeway is buying Andronico’s Community Markets, according to both companies, and Andronico’s five stores will be renamed Safeway Community Markets. Andronico’s two stores in Berkeley, and its other three — in San Francisco, San Anselmo and Los Altos — are slated to undergo the transition in December and each store will be closed for a short period of time during the changeover.

No jobs will be lost as a result of the purchase, said Andronico’s CEO Suzy Monford, who told Berkeleyside that the union that represents both Safeway and Andronico’s staff “wholeheartedly supports” the move, and that she herself is delighted with the development. Monford said there were around 350-400 employees in total across the five stores, with 35 in the group’s corporate office.

Read more about Andronico’s Community Markets on Berkeleyside.

In a statement released to Berkeleyside by Safeway, the grocery giant said Andronico’s approached Safeway earlier this year about purchasing their stores “with the goal of preserving union jobs and keeping the stores operating in the same friendly, local way their customers have come to enjoy.”

Andronico’s, which was founded in Berkeley in 1929 — and at its peak had 14 stores in the Bay Area — declared bankruptcy in August 2011 and was bought by Renovo Capital, along with A.G. Ferrari, another local food group.

Wednesday morning, representatives from Safeway, along with Monford, were on the grocery market floor in Berkeley’s two stores talking to staff about the news and its implications. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: The race for mayor — a disconnect on development

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I’ve had many a conversation lately with white liberals in Berkeley who lament the rise of Donald Trump. They always seem to be bewildered about how this could be happening in our country, how someone like that could be so close to grabbing power. When our conversations turn to local politics, however, there seems to be a disconnect about how the dehumanizing policies that Trump is proposing for the country have much in common with ones that are in play … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Don’t be misled by big landlords who will spend $1M to defeat Measure U1

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Berkeley’s biggest landlords have already spent $800,000 and are on track to spend $1,000,000 by Election Day. If they are successful they will save millions of dollars every year and prevent the development of hundreds of units of affordable housing. Of course, they can’t just say “vote to save big landlords money”, so they hide behind a smoke screen. They created Measure DD, which raises only a token amount for affordable housing and they mail out phony accusations against Measure U1, … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Vote no on Measure U1, which is a shill for big developers

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In his op-ed article urging a Yes vote on Measure U1 and a No vote on Measure DD—the two rental housing tax hikes appearing on the Berkeley ballot—Stephen Barton, the former Berkeley housing director, embarrasses himself by shilling for big real estate developers and their regressive approach to housing tax policy.

For voters just starting to pay attention, Measure DD would raise the Berkeley tax on owners of residential rental units from 1.081% of gross receipts on rents to 1.5% … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why Laurie Capitelli shouldn’t be mayor, why Jessie Arreguín should: Equity & jobs

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West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies (WEBAIC) urges you not to support Laurie Capitelli for mayor because of his central role in a destructive, multi-year, anti-equity effort to force out West Berkeley companies and their thousands of productive middle-wage jobs. Vote for Jesse Arreguín, who has been a consistently strong supporter of West Berkeley’s sustainable industrial maker and arts ecosystem and the thousands of good, family-wage jobs it provides.

The effort to displace West Berkeley’s thousands of good jobs for … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: Dorset Finds, Revival Barber + Beauty, more

Dorset Finds at 1201 Tenth St., Suite D specializes in unusual home decor     Photo: Dorset Finds
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DORSET FINDS Looking for a “new, old look” for your home or office? Dorset Finds, which opened in August 2016, specializes in “vintage industrial” furniture and home décor. “Much of what I sell are artifacts from the Industrial Age,” owner Justin Dorset told Berkeleyside. “These pieces often originated in early 20th-century factories, most of which were scattered along the East Coast and in the Rust Belt. My tables have found their way into celebrity homes, tech-company boardrooms, upscale restaurants and designer boutiques.” Dorset Finds carries one of the best selections of Uhl Toledo chairs and stools on the West Coast, according to Dorset, as well as lights that tell a story — in particular, 1920s–1940s task lamps with articulating arms. There’s also a multitude of unusual finds of solid design.  “Our restoration work is hand-done in order to preserve the soul and integrity that naturally comes with a utilitarian item that’s been used for decades,” Dorset said. Opening his first shop in Brooklyn in 2010, Dorset and his wife moved to Berkeley to be closer to family and to get a new start, bringing all their inventory with them. The Dorset Finds showroom is usually appointment only, but it will be opening its doors to the public for ‘open-studio’ visits every Saturday in December from 12–5 p.m. in the lead-up to Christmas. Dorset Finds, 1201-D Tenth St., Berkeley 94701, Tel: 646-460 2810. Open by appointment only, with special holiday hours. Connect with Dorset Finds on Facebook and Instagram.
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