Shop Talk: Bill’s Trading Post; See’s Candies; Workstation West Berkeley

BILL’S TRADING POST & GEM GALLERY The business that has been running in two adjacent spaces for many years has consolidated into one space due to slower sales and high rent. Open for over 80 years, Bill’s Trading Post first expanded into two shops in the early 1990s, replacing a longstanding gun shop that had operated at 2945 College Ave. “We always like to joke that we traded the guns to the Indians for native crafts and beautiful jewelry,” said co-owner Maureen Ewer. Ewer is the granddaughter of Bill Gulley, the original owner of the business. After her grandfather died in 1965 her mom stepped in to help run the store. “Being the great entrepreneur that she was, she and my sister and brother started making sandals, leather belts and leather clothes,” Ewer said. Around 1967, her mother became friends with native California Indians and began the selling of crafts by native peoples. By 1968 the store had changed its name to Bill’s Trading Post.

Ewer and her sister, Janet Dunlap, are the current owners of Bill’s Trading Post & Gem Gallery. “We are the third generation to own our family business. My daughter, Julie Ewer, is manager and works full time. Granddaughters, nieces and siblings have also worked here over the years,” Ewer said. Gulley first opened his store in the Elmwood around the mid-1930s as Bill’s Model Shoe Shop. His daughter Peggy and her two daughters, Janet and Maureen, who grew up in the Elmwood, worked in the shop. “Our mother didn’t care for repairing shoes and thus created Bill’s Trading Post & Gem Gallery,” Ewer said. In the ’80s and ’90s business was booming in the Elmwood, she said, making it a natural move to split into two shops when the gun shop closed. The Gem Gallery focused on fine jewelry and non-native silver jewelry with Bill’sTrading Post selling all other goods.

The business consolidated in July and is still working on organization and an interior remodel. “It’s been a work in progress,” Ewer said, “We still have a little more to do on the inside and John Gordon, (of Gordon Commercial Real Estate), plans on bringing back the original façade to the outside of the building, which will allow for more natural light which we’re looking forward to.” The store plans on adding new interior lighting and window displays. “We are forever grateful for many years of devotion to our mother’s business, the Elmwood and the community. We hope to stay here forever,” she said. Bill’s Trading Post & Gem Gallery, 2943 College Ave. (near Ashby), Berkeley. Phone: 510-841-1615. Hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, Noon-5 p.m.

See’s Candies has opened a seasonal pop-up shop on Fourth Street. Photo: Doug Ng

SEE’S CANDIES A See’s Candies popup shop has just opened up on Fourth Street for the holiday season. The shop has taken up temporary residence in the space formerly home to Téance, which closed in July after 12 years on Fourth Street. The popup opened its doors on Nov. 14. See’s Candies had a retail shop at 2170 Shattuck Ave. in downtown Berkeley for many years; it opened in 1938 and closed on June 10, 2004. Canadian chocolate salesman Charles A. See moved to California with his family and his widowed mother, Mary See, in 1921. He opened his first store in Los Angeles that sold confections made from his mother’s own original recipes. The first shop in the Bay Area opened in San Francisco in 1926.There are currently over 200 stores nationwide and See’s Candies makes over 26 million pounds of candy every year. See’s Candies, 1780 Fourth St., Berkeley. There are permanent locations in the East Bay in Rockridge and El Cerrito Plaza. Phone: 424-205-0419. Hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, Noon-5 p.m. Connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter


A new workstation and events venue has opened in West Berkeley. Photo: Kiana Jardin

WORKSTATION WEST BERKELEY A new creative space, Workstation West Berkeley, opened on Sept. 14. Both a co-working space and an events venue, Workstation West Berkeley aims to provide a space to nurture “productivity, collaboration and creativity,” as well as be a venue for community events, workshops, dance and fitness classes, art exhibitions and more. Co-owners Rolf Bell and his wife, Laura Cohen, have lived in Berkeley since 2000 and love its diversity, talent and the vibrancy of its community. “West Berkeley continues to be underserved without enough dynamic meeting and community gathering spaces,” said Bell. “We designed a space that serves both needs well.” The space has quite a history. According to Bell, the building first opened as a shoe factory in the 1920s then was used as an aeronautics instrument assembly plant during the war. It has also been a graphic-arts design center, a grow room and a wine storage building.

Workstation West Berkeley has a creative artist advisory board drawn from the local community that will be shaping the events and direction of the space with the goal of determining how it can best serve the community of West Berkeley. Kiana Jardin, member coordinator of the space that on Nov. 23, from noon-3 p.m., Workstation West Berkeley will be hosting a book signing with Brittany Murlas, UC Berkeley alumna and author of We are Little Feminists, in honor of her new series of children’s books “that showcase and celebrate diverse families in an effort towards increasing representation in children’s literature.” Workstation West Berkeley, 2247 Sixth St. (near Bancroft Way), Berkeley. Phone: 510-647-9633. Check website for available hours, upcoming events and more info on workstation set-ups and amenities. 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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