Find out which stores have opened, closed or moved and what’s new in Berkeley’s small business communities. If you have any business updates from Berkeley to share, email [email protected]
In the spotlight elm wood
Iconic Slash Denim Levi’s Sign Gone In A Flash, Just As Quickly Returns
Inspired by a pair of size 54 Levi’s, Slash Denim’s wooden sign has stood outside the store on the bustling corner of Ashby Avenue and Russell Street almost since its founding 43 years ago. Founder Carla Bell, who now co-owns the store with Adriana Guerra, loved the handcrafted sign.
“It looked exactly like a pair of jeans,” Bell said.
She was therefore shocked to discover that on the afternoon of Saturday September 10, a man and a woman walked away with the sign, which was captured by the store’s surveillance camera. The footage shows the couple talking about the sign before they take it away. After the owners put the images on social media and got more than 1,300 responses on instagramthe couple returned the sign two days later.
The couple apologized, telling the owners they thought the sign was up for grabs and they were new to San Francisco. The owners did not push the matter further.
“I’m just glad I found the sign,” Bell said.
Open Southwest Berkeley
Arts and culture (but no lattes) are on offer at the new Aktivate Cafe in San Pablo
Tonja Robertson has spent most of her career in the food industry, starting with Skates on the Bay at Berkeley Marina, then Lake Chalet in Oakland and an Alameda catering business before opening Aktivate Cafe in April. She thought she would also offer food there, but the constraints of the building forced her to pivot.
She has made the 660-square-foot showcase a creative space for local artists who want to “cultivate their craft and collaborate with others” and an event rental. Robertson knows the neighborhood well — she grew up about four blocks away.
Aktivate has a regular schedule of events and activities that it sponsors, such as open mics on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month and karaoke every Friday night ($15 each entry) and vocal lessons given by Terri J. Smith, part of Robertson’s team. , with Jasmine Betego. Part of the activity also involves event rentals (rates on request), which may include the use of a pool table stored in the back room.
So far, the cafe has hosted poets, digital artists, rappers and musicians of all persuasions, including “a guy who whistles whole songs, which is pretty cool,” Robertson said. Coming soon: live jazz and a Beats & Brunch event featuring Afrobeats in October. Aktivate is also launching an artist fund to raise money for artists in the community, who can apply through its website.
Being the owner/creator of a creative space has “exposed me to different avenues that I never thought I would try,” Robertson said. “I like to be surrounded by artists.”
Firm South Berkeley
Long-time dealer of precious objects empties after 30 years
“It wasn’t quite the ending we were hoping for,” said Malcom Jones, as he cleared out the remains of his sister Marian’s longtime Berkeley store, Precious Antiques. “But it was time.”
The store had been open sporadically for months, and after Marian Jones suffered a stroke, which left her unable to stand for a few months, it closed permanently at the end of August. Her brother said she was working hard in rehab and making tremendous progress.
The store is on the corner of Adeline Street and Ashby Avenue, part of the Adeline Ashby Antiques District, a collection of shops that have been around since the 1930s. Jones opened his shop about 30 years ago, selling art, jewellery, textiles, furniture, rugs and African art.
“She was and is a good friend and she was a real kind of star around the corner,” said Ted von Hemert, whose von Hemert Antiques is around the corner at 1989 Ashby Ave. for 54 years. “She was always so passionate about antiques and pretty things.”
Von Hemert noted that Jones was particularly familiar with Oriental rugs and often repaired them herself. Like many antique dealers, he said, Jones also preferred shopping to selling and had amassed such a collection, she had to put many of her offerings on the sidewalk because her store had become so crowded.
“Everyone loved him,” von Hemert added. “She will definitely be missed around the corner.”
Precious Antiques, 2994 Adeline St., Berkeley.
Firm Lorin district
A shop selling braids and hair extensions is uprooted from Adeline and Alcatraz
Kahara Morris and her sister, Rika Hunter, opened their first Braid and beauty bar at 6524 Shattuck Ave. in Oakland in 2012 and followed with a second store at the corner of Adeline Street and Alcatraz Avenue in Berkeley in 2017. The Berkeley location closed on August 15 after the building was purchased by a new owner. The building had been for sale since the store opened.
“The new owners wanted to do something different with the space,” Morris said, “so we really didn’t have too many options.”
The sisters grew up on Shattuck Avenue in Oakland, near the Berkeley border, and plan to open a second location in the Berkeley/Oakland area soon.
The Braid Bar, 3300 Adeline St., Berkeley.
Not closed South side
The used bike store is open and doing business on the sidewalk
Adlai Karim was not happy to learn that the Google listing for his second-hand bike shop, Karim Cycle, recently stated that it was “permanently closed” in a red banner. The designation disappeared a few days later.
“I’m open and selling used bikes every afternoon,” he said.
The store, technically, is not open. On a recent afternoon, the front door was ajar to reveal a store full to bursting. In fact, he has so many things in his shop, Karim sells bikes on the sidewalk in front of the store, which he plans to do until his lease expires in October 2023. The building is to be demolished to make way at a five-storey building.
In 2005, Karim was cleared after police confiscated 17 bikes with their serial numbers erased and police returned all but one of them to the store.
Karim Cycle, 2800 Telegraph Ave. (at Stuart Street), Berkeley. Opening hours: every day, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. approximately
Reopening fourth street
Trendy clothing store Madewell will no longer be just for women when it reopens next month
Madewell, a women’s brand aimed at hip 20s and 30s, closed on August 7 and will reopen in early October with a new men’s section that will take up about a quarter of the 3,448-square-foot store. The men’s section will even have its own entrance.
The J. Crew spin-off is known for a laid-back, denim-centric range that reflects the increasingly blurred lines between home and workplace. Madewell introduced menswear in 2018, before the pandemic blurred those lines even further.
In the spotlight North Berkeley
Natural perfumer Mandy Aftel relishes the sweet scent of success
Natural fragrance expert Mandy Aftel is in the news again. In July, she received the 2022 Art and Olfaction Septimus Piesse Visionary Award from the Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles for “demonstrating exceptional vision in how perfume is used, developed or imagined”.
The non-profit institute is dedicated to advancing public access to the practice of working with fragrance. She also honored Aftel in another way: by creating an award in her name for a manufacturer of natural fragrances.
Aftel is the creator of the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents, the country’s first museum dedicated to perfume and the fragrance experience, in a cottage in her Walnut Street garden, and the author of four books on natural fragrances .