Tag Archives: Berkeley business news
GLOBAL EXCHANGE REORGANIZED The Global Exchange on the corner of Russell Street and College Avenue recently reorganized its interior to make the store feel more open and better showcase the artwork on sale. The bulky display pieces were taken out to open up floor and wall space, according to lead sales associate Lauren Matley. While it used to feel “cozy, like a marketplace,” the space is now “happy and light,” said Matley. The inventory is also more modern, with less emphasis on tribal crafts. Global Exchange, an international human rights organization “dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world,” has two stores in the Bay Area. The San Francisco store opened in 1989 and the College Avenue store opened in 1991. Both places sell crafts made by artisans from around the world. … Continue reading »
Popular North Berkeley restaurant Nature’s Express closed this week unexpectedly, with promises to re-open soon, leaving many nearby residents wondering what had taken place.
According to management, the vegan and vegetarian eatery at 1823 Solano Ave. has faced “abysmal” financial struggles and had to make changes, including staff reductions, to survive.
But former employees — many of whom quit in solidarity after several other staffers were let go — have launched a campaign to raise money as they look for new jobs, and to raise alarm bells about what they say are the negative business practices of new management. … Continue reading »
BELLHOPS Moving just got a little easier. In May, Bellhops set up operations in Berkeley. Using a business model akin to Uber or Lyft, the company hires local college students, or “bellhops,” to provide customers with moving help. The company started three years ago in Auburn, Alabama, and rapidly expanded to 145 cities across the country. Currently, around 80 UC Berkeley students are available for customers within 15 miles of campus, according to co-founder Matt Paterson. Operations are decentralized, and the company doesn’t own any trucks or garages, but its employees can rent moving vans if the customer requests it. As Patterson puts it, Bellhops is perfect for those who don’t need a professional service and instead could just use some helping hands. And the company recognizes that letting strangers handle your possessions can be nerve-racking, which is why it sends customers pictures and profiles of bellhops before they arrive. Trust and exceptional customer service are central to the company’s mission, said Patterson. … Continue reading »
SLASH DENIM Slash Denim at 2840 College Ave. has reopened its doors two months after a smoky fire damaged the inventory. The store, which sells high-end denim, is adding a mix of vintage clothes from its vintage store downstairs, according to owner Carla Bell. She opened Slash Denim eight years ago and the vintage store 35 years ago. The denim store will still carry new jeans, but will expand its vintage Levi collection, she said. On May 7, a light fixture fell from the ceiling and set part of the wall on fire, said Bell. Two people from the 7-11 store across the street spotted the flames and ran to a nearby fire station. The fire department responded at 4:20 a.m. and quickly extinguished the flames. Slash Denim held a 25%-50% off sale for two months while it was fixing the store, said Bell. The store was not insured, said Bell. … Continue reading »
MISSION HEIRLOOM CAFÉ Gluten-free, grain-free and soy-free offerings will be available at Mission Heirloom Café, which opens this fall in North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. The restaurant will move into 2085 Vine St. where much-loved vegetarian Chinese restaurant Vegi Food operated until 2012. The Heirloom Café will be serving organic, non-GMO cuisine and Intelligista coffee. The café will have outdoor seating. Mission Heirloom currently operates a takeout kitchen on Eighth Street, where you can get a preview of their offerings by picking up lunchtime meals Tuesday through Friday. … Continue reading »
There’s a new bookstore in town, or at least a newly owned bookstore. After ditching a career in what she terms “corporate America,” Gina Davidson has taken over the former Analog Books at 1816 Euclid Ave., a stone’s throw from the Cal campus.
With a fresh stock of books and a stylish makeover, Bookish has been up and running under Davidson’s direction for about six months. Davidson – a novice at bookselling — says she is hoping Berkeley’s famously book-friendly community will support the business and help her fulfill her dream of running a bookstore.
It’s something Davidson has been thinking about for some time: while she was holding down senior jobs at companies like Motorola and PayPal, she would also surreptitiously be perusing Craigslist for available bookstores, and her eyes would light up when she found one. She remembers seeing two listings, one in Sebastopol and the other in Castro Valley, before spotting the ad for the Berkeley lease.
It took the death of a friend for her to take a leap of faith, however. “That was an impetus,” Davidson said recently in the pocket-sized Northside store. “I didn’t want to look back and say, ‘What if?’” The fact that Davidson’s husband joked he would leave her if she didn’t grab the opportunity after years ruminating about it may also have played a part. … Continue reading »
OLD YAK BAZAAR A new fair-trade store is coming to town this fall. Old Yak Bazaar, self-described as an alternative trading company, sells up-cycled handcrafted designs from artisans around the world. Upcycling, for those that may not have heard the term before, is a process where low-value materials are converted into higher-quality products. These products include bags, home decor, jewelry, scarves and toys. The company is based out of Minneapolis and operates an online shop. It’s still unclear when and where in Berkeley the new place will open, but details should be made available next month when the lease is confirmed, according to co-owner Wen-Yan King. … Continue reading »
FILTHY GORGEOUS A brother-and-sister interior decorating team have moved their Filthy Gorgeous store from Walnut Creek to 1987 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley. The shop sells a wide variety of home decor items — including chairs, sofas, art, tables, storage, lights, and accessories — and offers upholstery and personalized home design services by appointment. Clients’ homes have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens and Sunset Magazine. According to the store’s website, the pair strive for design that “incorporates unique and personalized blends of old and new, function and elegance, budget and beauty, creating timeless looks while accommodating the inevitable evolution of life.” Filthy Gorgeous joins the Adeline Corridor neighborhood’s large number of antique and vintage furniture stores.
Patterson is on a mission to increase childhood literacy and to help kids find books that will make them love reading. He created the grant program to strengthen independent bookstores to help them compete against chains and on-line book retailing. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley Small Business Alliance supports the need to raise the minimum wage in Berkeley. There is a longstanding history of support for small business in Berkeley as evidenced by its lack of corporate retailers and big-box stores. Berkeley residents are known for their devotion to sustainable restaurants whose chefs buy seasonally from local farmers and ranchers. It’s the small mom and pop shops that make Berkeley feel like a small town and are the backbone of the local … Continue reading »
The city of Berkeley will have a new tool to halt the proliferation of large drugstores around town if a law to create buffer zones between them is approved by officials later this month.
Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council discussed the details of the new law, which would create a definition for drugstores and establish a 1,000-foot buffer zone between them.
The law, as proposed, would apply to drugstores larger than 5,000 square feet, and would be in effect in most “neighborhood commercial” zones in Berkeley except along Adeline Street and San Pablo Avenue. (Downtown, West Berkeley, part of Euclid Avenue, and University and Telegraph avenues would not be affected.)
Council consideration of the drugstore issue dates back to 2011, when officials asked the city Planning Commission to investigate how Berkeley might stop the spread of drugstores throughout town by creating buffer zones between them.
But it was a proposal last fall by Walgreens, which hopes to open in North Berkeley on Solano Avenue on the site of a 76 gas station at 1830 Solano, that brought the issue back into the public eye. … Continue reading »
ALEMBIQUE APOTHECARY Alembique Apothecary, a store selling herbs and botanicals for the kitchen and for the body, is set to open at 901 Hearst Ave. (at the corner of Seventh Street), in mid-June. Owner Babak Nahid is remodeling a space on the first floor of one of the oldest buildings in Berkeley. He says customers will be able to create their own soaps and lotions, using ingredients like carrot-seed and sea buckhorn oils. “We purvey predominantly non-GMO, organic, local, wild-crafted/wild-harvested, food-grade and petrochemical-free products, including natural botanical, herbal and mineral ingredients for our bodies and our homes,” the store says on its website. Plans include offering a refill station, an organic blending bar, and a series of workshops at the shop.
LHASA KARNAK HERB CO. Lhasa Karnak Herb Co. has two stores in Berkeley and one of them has just moved one door down the street and taken over the former Body Time location at 1942 Shattuck Ave. Lhasa Karnak says it offers the “largest selection and the highest quality herbs, essential oils, and other natural products to be found anywhere.” They specialize in Western medicinal herbs and culinary spices, but also stock traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs. Its second store remains at 2482 Telegraph Ave. … Continue reading »
In a few months, dozens of artists and makers will set up shop in the currently vacant warehouse at 1150 Sixth Street, which used to house Odwalla’s distribution center.
MWS Studios, a cluster of artist studios for rent, is the brainchild of Jacques Janson, a recovering corporate financier, and John Henry, a real-estate developer who helped build a similar artist community in Oakland.
“It seems like there’s a shortage of spaces for artists to go make things,” said Janson, who lives in Sonoma.
Artists will be able to rent the studio spaces, which vary in size, on a month-by-month basis initially. The building license will allow up to 10% of the nearly 10,000 square foot site to serve as retail space, so some artists will be able to convert their studios into storefronts or galleries. … Continue reading »