Shop Talk: The Grubb Company and Thornwall Properties merge; new boutique Riveter

The Grubb Company has merged with Thornwall Properties, Inc. Photo: The Grubb Company

THE GRUBB COMPANY/THORNWALL PROPERTIES, INC. The Grubb Company announced last week that it has merged with fellow East Bay independent real estate brokerage Thornwall Properties, Inc. Thornwall’s team of 11 Realtors and two brokers joined The Grubb Company on Nov. 1. It’s the second merger of independent real estates companies in the East Bay this year. In August, Red Oak Realty acquired Marvin Gardens Real Estate, creating the largest independent brokerage in the East Bay. The real estate landscape is changing in other ways: national real estate startup Compass, whose goal is to achieve “20% market share in each of the 20 biggest U.S. markets by 2020,” has rapidly acquired a private market valuation of $6.4 billion and is acquiring brokerages across in the Bay Area.

Like Red Oak, Thornwall began, in 1984, as a women-run cooperative. Its nine original co-founders included anti-war, civil-rights and housing activist Marilyn Pursley. Over the years, the company has continued to be involved in community and local government affairs under the leadership of broker/owner Mary Canavan. The company has one office on Shattuck Avenue (near Lincoln) and will maintain its presence there. Canavan said that, like Thornwall, “the Grubb Company is … a long-time, family-operated, up-from-the-grassroots business. They are not a franchise. They are looking to do relationship-based real estate, which is what we’ve always done. When you merge luxury standards with activist roots, you get a company that truly cares about neighborhoods with extraordinary attention to detail.”

The Grubb Company was founded in 1967 by Donald Grubb, Sr. and is now managed by his son, D.J. Grubb and John Karnay. It has 85 agents working out of offices in Berkeley’s Claremont neighborhood, Montclair and Uptown Oakland, and strategic affiliations with global real estate networks. CFO Karnay said the merger feels right as both companies have deep roots in the communities they serve. “We both care, first and foremost, about those longstanding connections,” he said. Canavan added that the decision to merge provides a much larger reach for both companies. According to DJ Grubb, he and Karnay will continue as principals and Mary Canavan will assume a senior leadership role. The Grubb Company, 3070 Claremont Ave. and 1656 Shattuck Ave. Phone: 510-652-2133. Offices in Montclair and Uptown Oakland also. Hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Connect on Twitter and Instagram

Diva Robin in front of her new Westbrae shop Riveter which specializes in home décor and artisanal gifts. Photo: David Torrez

RIVETER Riveter is a new “shipping container boutique” in the Westbrae/Gilman district of West Berkeley. Owned by Diva Robin and David Torrez, it opened its doors on Aug. 6 offering handmade gifts, home décor and ceramics made mostly in California by local artisans, with some goods from other states and Mexico. The two chose the location because they have worked and lived in the neighborhood for a while. “It was a no-brainer to open a business on Gilman Street since the neighborhood has been going through a revival since the Westbrae Biergarten opened five years ago,” Robin said. Robin came up with the concept and design, while Torrez brought Robin’s ideas to life by using his building skills in creating the space. “He is amazingly versatile and skilled and did all of the welding, concrete work and carpentry to create our little store and outdoor patio,” Robin said. Both creatives, Robin makes ceramics and other handmade products and Torrez makes concrete and steel tables and sculpture. “Our ultimate goal was to bring something new to the Westbrae neighborhood while supporting the local arts community,” Robin said. Riveter, 1287 Gilman St. (near Santa Fe Avenue). Phone: 925-383-3191. Hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Connect on Facebook and Instagram


If you’re a Berkeley business with news to share, or you’ve noticed a new or closing business in Berkeley, email editors@berkeleyside.com. Read more Shop Talk columns. Catch up with food- and drink-related business news on Nosh.

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