Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cody's Moves In

By Anneli Rufus
Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 1:14 PM

A grand opening celebration at its new heart-of-downtown Berkeley digs — 2201 Shattuck Ave., at Allston Way — marked a (hopefully) long-term stop on the long and winding road that started on Euclid Avenue 52 years ago.

After the original Euclid store relocated to Telegraph Avenue in 1967, that road divided into two and then three lanes when a second Cody's opened on Fourth Street in Berkeley and a third near San Francisco's Union Square. The Telegraph store closed in 2006, the San Francisco store in 2007. An unexpected recent rent increase on Fourth Street sent Cody's eastward again to downtown, where its roomy corner spot sports blond wooden shelves (transported from Cody's former incarnations), a lush Cal-blue velvet curtain as a backdrop for visiting authors, and generous brothy afternoon light.

A sprightly jazz band, the Spirit of 29, greeted visitors and patrons at the grand opening as a quiet crowd browsed.

Sparse free parking and other problems make downtown Berkeley a perennially iffy, sink-or-swim location for new retail businesses. Even successful national chains have struggled and failed here; an empty shell now glowers where, until January, a Ross store stood. An Eddie Bauer store once occupied the very corner Cody's now calls home. And downtown Berkeley's Barnes & Noble store — since we're speaking of bookshops — is merely a memory now. But hark: Pegasus, Eastwind, Half Price Books, and the Other Change of Hobbit are all holding their own.

Downtown Berkeley might be a blooming literary hub after all.

Just don't bring your car.

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