COMCAST The branch of Comcast on University Avenue will permanently close on Sept. 25. Customers can conduct business online or at the Emeryville Xfinity store, located at 5688 Bay St. No further information was available as to why the Berkeley location is closing. Comcast, 1936 University Ave, (near Milvia), Ste. 103, Berkeley 94704. Tel: 800-934-6489. Open Mon. – Sat., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
DARLING ELECTRIC SALON A new hair salon has opened on San Pablo Avenue, at Dwight Way. Karianne Silverman and Lindsay Melnyk, owners of Darling Electric Salon, were both formerly stylists and educators at Peter Thomas Hair in North Berkeley for 14 years. This is their first establishment and its name was pulled from a hat. The business took over the space formerly occupied by Kiss My Ring and opened for business on Sept. 3. The duo were drawn to San Pablo Avenue. “This building in particular has so much character, and it was important to us to work with the existing space rather than try to force our aesthetic into a space where it didn’t fit,” said Melnyk. “It’s also wonderful to become part of the community of businesses on this block. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming.” Darling Electric. “We value eco-conscious practices and offer a welcoming, judgement-free environment,” Silverman added. Darling Electric Salon, 2522 San Pablo Ave. (near Dwight Way), Berkeley 94702. Tel: 510-647-8207. Open Tues. – Thurs., 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., Fri., 9:30 – 5 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Connect on Instagram.
MR MOPPS’ CHILDREN’S BOOKS The iconic Berkeley toy shop has relocated its books section to the corner of MLK and Rose. The business has taken over the space formerly occupied by Festoon Salon, which closed in June. “When we found out the space at 1401 was becoming available, we thought it was a good opportunity to have a space that would allow the kind of programming that make book stores an essential and important part of the community — story times, book clubs, author events, etc.,” co-owner Devin McDonald said. The business will also showcase work by local artists, including the current exhibition of collage work by artist Nicollette Smith. McDonald bought and reopened the toy store with his partner Jenny Stevenson in 2010. McDonald said taking on a second rental was a risky move for them but if it doesn’t work out, they will downsize back into the toy store. Mr. Mopps’ Childrens Books, 1401 MLK Jr. Way (at Rose), Tel: 510-525-9633. Open Mon. – Fri., 10:30 – 6:30 and weekends, 9:30 – 5:30. Connect on Facebook and Instagram.
BERKELEY BUBBLES The Berkeley Bubbles laundromat located on University Avenue in the heart of downtown permanently closed its doors on Aug. 30. The business was owned for five years by Mary and Ted Welch who said they closed up shop for two reasons: firstly because the rent was put up by 10% each year, reaching $8,000 per month by 2019. They said they tried to negotiate with their landlord but could not reach an agreement. Secondly, they cited continual conflicts with the nearby homeless community which, they said, drove business away and created an untenable situation for the couple.
“We called the Berkeley police (911) at least 100 times in the past five years but they did nothing to help or protect us,” said Mary Welch. Welch, 60, recounted numerous times she felt threatened by homeless people occupying her business. She spoke of people, sometimes as many as 20 or more, gathering in the laundromat on a regular basis, smoking meth and crack inside the space. Sometimes they removed all their clothes and waited naked, after having placed unwashed, urine-soaked clothing into the dryers; there was defecating and urinating in the laundromat and angry and violent behavior towards her including pushing her up against the wall, she said. On one occasion, Welch said it took police two hours to arrive. Welch added that people also used a short cut from the back entrance of the store through to the front to get to University Avenue. She tried to figure out ways to work with the homeless community in her business, including providing free soap, free dryer time and other basic amenities but it just continued to be too difficult. Numerous Yelp customer reviews attest to the issues with homeless people.
The owners said they met with the Berkeley City Council in hopes of some resolution but it was also unsuccessful. “The Mayor should be ashamed of himself for letting businesses fail this way,” Welch said. She also said she and her husband, who live in Pleasant Hill, take some responsibility for not thoroughly researching the demographics of the location prior to opening the business, but they were also disappointed in the lack of support from city officials and authorities, which they feel may have enabled them to be more successful. Berkeley Bubbles, 2051 University Ave. (near Milvia), Berkeley 94704.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Read previous Shop Talk columns. And catch up with all food- and drink-related business news with our Nosh coverage.