Dope, Locally Owned, East Bay Shops
Christmas is a somewhat conflicting holiday for me. As an atheist, I don’t do god, however being a materialist, I very strongly believe in presents. It’s a ruthless cycle- to get, you have to give. Thus I am seasonally motivated to get presents for my family, friends, colleagues, and a number of other random people in my life. Here is a list of stores that I love to buy presents for people from, they are locally owned and keep me coming back year after year.
Travel back in time with me. Remember when you and your friends were college-aged and not in the place to keep a fish alive, let alone a child? Well, the future has arrived; and with it more and more of these same friends are now having children. This new reality results in my needing to get these cool kids presents, and so I go to Valentine’s. Valentine’s recently celebrated its first birthday, but despite being in its infancy, this shop is fantastic. Cute new and lightly-used second hand clothes, tiny shoes, and a great selection of books and toys. The owner, Sacha Desousa, stocks the shop with great care and places a lot of focus on carrying wares by local designers, including: Nooworks, Margarette, Laizure, All Good Living, Little Fluffy, and her very own designs. Besides supporting the local designers, she also makes sure that the walls are hung by a regularly updated exhibition of art from local artists with pieces that look great in either the kid’s room, or the living room.
3820 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
What to get your weirdo in your life that has it all? Bones, baby, bones. This shop is bursting at the seams with all sorts of curiosities- human skulls, tiny tentacles in jars, porcupine quills, small fossils, and pinned bugs and butterflies galore. In addition to amazing taxidermy and drawers of iridescent bugs, the shop also features beautiful jewelry from local and small label jewelers, ceramics and a good selection of books and learning toys. The people who work at the shop are friendly and are happy to answer questions. Bonus for Black Friday shoppers, they are offering 10% off purchases from their online store, and all in-shop purchases made on November 27 will be entered into a raffle to win a gift certificate to the store. Also, check their website, throughout the year they host interesting lectures and workshops that will really help turn up the volume on your ability to contribute more interestingly to cocktail conversation.
1573 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94707
Pretty vintage clothes and fancy bath concoctions are my jam when it comes to finding presents for the classy ladies in my life and Juniper Tree Vintage fulfills that. This pretty shop, newly relocated from Lakeshore, is bursting all of the aforementioned. Their shelves are beautiful quality vintage clothing, shoes, accessories, nick-knacks, and artisan bath products. They also have a fun selection of jewelry- some classic, some whimsical, all beautiful. I tend to hit this shop hard for my mom, who is a fancy dresser, and I have never gotten a bad review from her in the many years I have been getting her presents here. I usually end up leaving with a couple things for myself too… Shhhhh.
1320 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501
Perhaps I live under a rock, but I prefer books to Kindle. I don’t like screens very much and there is just something about the physicality of books that I enjoy. Pegasus is a chain of locally owned book stores that are located on College Avenue, Shattuck Avenue, and Solano Avenue offer me, and those I buy presents, the opportunity to turn pages like they were meant to be turned. The shelves are full to bursting with new and used books, and there are always excellent sales on books of all types of subjects throughout the year. They also sell used records, journals, fantastic calendars, and have a great kids and young adults selection of books. The staff is helpful, well read, and happy to put a book in your hands that you, or whomever you are getting it for, will not want to put down. And if they don’t have what you are looking for? Well, ask these good folks nicely and I’m sure they will help you find it. These are great shops any time of year, they regularly host lectures, author meet and greet, live music, and things to get both adults and kids stoked on reading.
5560 College Avenue Oakland, CA 94618
2349 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA 94704
1855 Solano Avenue Berkeley, CA 94707
I understand it’s odd to see a liquor store on a gift guide, but stick with me. Between you and I, I have bought more presents for people here than anywhere else. Broadway Liquor basically is your one stop shop for dealing with yuletide generosity in a sort of half-assed way that appears more caring than it actually is. Secret Santa I forgot about? Gin. Semi-anonymous colleagues I work with whose personalities I have largely created in my head? Wine. Last minute dinner party invites? $25 bottles of Four Roses. Kids Christmas stocking? Gummy candies mother fucker! Sober friends? Chips and some high-brow soda. They are well stocked and open late and if the three Wise Men were around now, I’m sure they would stop in here to pick up booze, a novelty lighter, and a couple scratchers for the baby Jesus.
2860 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611
My step-father and I made agreement on what he likes to receive for Christmas about 10 years ago. It’s pretty simple: A Cost-Co bottle of Patrón and a t-shirt from Oaklandish. My uncles have now started requesting Oaklandish t-shirts as presents for themselves- no problem guys, thank you for making shopping easier for me. Oaklandish has a hometown hero’s story, it started in 2000 as a public art’s project and took off, emerging as a brand whose sole mission is to spread “local love” and highlight the unique culture of Oakland. They carry clothes for guys, gals, and kids as well as hats, patches, scarves, and more. For people who have Town pride, even if they aren’t from here (my family is all in Hawai’i), this is an easy win.
OAKLANDISH DOWNTOWN SHOP
1444 Broadway (between 14th and 15th)
OAKLANDISH DIMOND SHOP
3419 Fruitvale Avenue
Movie tickets are always a safe stand-by as gifts, but why not step it up a little this year and pick up some tickets to Playland-Not-At-The-Beach in El Cerrito? It’s off the chain fun for both children and adults, so really you can’t go wrong with this gift. Playland-Not-At-The-Beach have just about everything: magic shows, over thirty pinball machines (set to free mode!), arcade games, carnival, and video games, an antique penny arcade, and a hell of a lot more. You can purchase tickets which can be given as gifts and do not expire, so what’s not to love?
10979 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530
All photos from social media sites