Shop Talk: Bluemercury; Airport Home Appliance; Ruby Rugs; AxeVentures; Ana’s Flowers

Bluemercury, a luxury makeup chain, is coming to the old Lululemon spot in the Elmwood. Photo: Sean Rouse

BLUEMERCURY A new business is opening in the old Lululemon space on the corner of College and Ashby. Bluemercury, a luxury makeup and bodycare chain, has 100 stores nationwide selling over 90 beauty brands. Signage on the store windows indicates the opening is slated for spring 2019. Attempts to reach the company for more details were unsuccessful. Founders Barry and Marla Beck opened their first store in Georgetown, Washington D.C., in 1999. Bluemercury has ten other stores in the Bay Area with some offering spa services such as massage, facials and waxing. Bluemercury, 2956 College Ave. (at Ashby), Berkeley 94705. Tel: 1-800-355-6000. Connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Airport Home Appliance on Shattuck is moving to Emeryville this summer. Photo: Airport Home Appliance

AIRPORT HOME APPLIANCE The decades-old appliance store located on Shattuck Avenue is moving to Emeryville this summer. Airport Home Appliance began as a small-appliance and furniture store in 1963. Brothers Bernie and Manny Schwartz sold the business in 1970 to three engineers and then, in 1981, the business was sold a third time to current owners, Don and Tomi Van Eeghen. It is run by their daughter, Kate. The store has been in its Shattuck Avenue location since 2011. The business says it offers the largest selection of appliance brands in Northern California and has six locations in the Bay Area. According to marketing spokeswoman Alicia Owsley, the Shattuck Avenue location will close on July 15 and the Emeryville location will open on July 1. “Although the Berkeley location has been great for the company, the footprint wasn’t a good fit  for the new direction and goals of our showrooms,” Owsley said. The Berkeley store is currently the smallest showroom for the business.

Airport is in the process of relocating another store in Redwood City pegged to open June 1, as well as a new showroom in San Rafael later this year. All three showrooms will feature “live vignettes” and an elevated experience for customers. “People really want to experience the appliances they are interested in by seeing and touching the product, and in the future at Airport Home Appliance you will even be able to test it”, Owsley said. The Emeryville location, formerly home to General Appliance, will hold a grand opening event and official ribbon-cutting on, or around, July 1. “For 38 years, we have witnessed the demise of independent retailers,” Owsley said. “And the survival of the business really is a testament to the family atmosphere at Airport.  We may be a lean company, but we are able to adjust quickly to the market and hold higher standards for all vendors, which in turn results in better service for our Bay Area customers,” she said. “We are proud to be a local Bay Area company!” Airport Home Appliance, 2524 Shattuck Ave., (at Blake) Berkeley, 94704 through May. The store’s new location will be 5815 Shellmound, Emeryville 94608. Tel: 510-549-0800.

Ruby Rugs is coming to the top of Solano Avenue in April. Photo: Suzanne Daley

RUBY RUGS  A new handwoven rug store is coming to Solano Avenue, moving into the space that for many years housed Five Star Video, Berkeley’s last surviving video rental store, and more recently was home to Beauty Source. Ruby Rugs will sell rugs from around the world with a particular focus on contemporary, modern and custom-designed rugs. It will also offer cleaning, repair and appraisals. A grand opening party, organized with Luxe Magazine and DC Piano, is slated for April 11. There’ll be music, wine and hors d’oeuvres and donations to the Seva Foundation, a Berkeley charity that helps restore eyesight to underprivileged people in developing countries, will be accepted at the event. (The event is free but registration is required.) “We want to engage the community which is why we are partnering with DC Piano and the Seva Foundation,” owner Husret Abia said. “We are in such a visual business and thus giving someone in need the gift of sight gives us a great feeling.” Rugs will be offered at a 20% discount, and there’s 50% off all cleaning and repairs, through the months of April and May. The 3,000-square-foot showroom will be more like an art gallery than a typical rug store, according to Abia. “Instead of paintings, the walls are adorned with a selection of gorgeous handmade rugs from all over the world,” he said. “We want the rug shopping experience to be beautiful, relaxed and upscale.” Ruby Rugs, 1882 Solano Ave. (at The Alameda), Berkeley 94707. Tel: 510-558-3244.


Darts too tame for you? Try your hand at axe throwing at AxeVentures, opening soon on Telegraph Avenue. Photo: Chris Oey

AXEVENTURES An unusual new business is opening its doors on Telegraph Avenue. AxeVentures, an entertainment center for the sport of axe throwing, will have its grand opening on Friday, March 22. The space was formerly occupied by Berkeley Fit Body Boot Camp. Co-owners Daniel Lao, Christopher Oey and Christopher Keown are touting the “primal art” of target axe throwing as a form of stress relief. It’s described as similar to a game of darts, only with a tomahawk axe. “We are excited to be a part of the Berkeley community and hope to bring people laughter and joy along with a way to relieve stress and take a break from the fast pace life of the Bay Area,” Lao said. The business also serves refreshments and snacks. For newbies, coaches are on-site for training prior to your first match. AxeVentures — which was the first business to open under Berkeley’s new zoning codes for new businesses — has three other locations in San Diego (owned by Christopher Keown), Oceanside and Nashville. “We chose Berkeley because the area seems to be expanding into something entirely new, ” Lao said. He and his partners especially like the proximity to Cal, anticipating that students will be attracted to the alternative sport as a diversion from their studies. AxeVentures will initially be open from Friday-Sunday, noon to 10 p.m. with plans to expand to seven days a week. Note: Persons 18 years old or under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and closed-toe shoes are required. AxeVentures, 2566 Telegraph Ave. (near Blake), Berkeley 94704. Tel: 510-250-7202. Connect on Facebook

Ana’s Flower & Gifts on Gilman is closing and moving to a smaller shop a block away. Photo: Mary Corbin

ANA’S FLOWERS & GIFTS The Westbrae store is relocating to a smaller shop a block away from its current location on Gilman. A sale is underway until they close on March 31. Ana da Silva and her husband Roy have been in business on Gilman since 2005. “I am moving to a smaller shop that will be easier to manage,” Ana said, adding that she also needs to spend more time caring for her husband who has Alzheimer’s. She anticipates that the new location, after some renovation, will be open in about a month. The shop specializes in flowers and gifts for weddings, special occasions and memorial services. Ana’s Flowers & Gifts, 1302 Gilman St. (at Curtis), Berkeley 94706. Tel: 510-558-7420. Update, March 25: A group of neighbors is pitching in to help Ana da Silva open up a new, much smaller space a block away. One of them, Vanessa Lowe, has set up a GoFundMe campaign for the community to raise $8,000 for Ana and Roy.

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- and drink-related business news with our Nosh coverage.

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