Friday, April 4, 2008

Buy Curious: Hits the Pavement & Delivers the Goods

Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 3:03 PM

With a modest stipend, this Buy Curious gal has learned to stretch her dollar far. But we're still feeling the pinch of the economy, specifically high gas prices and BART parking fees and tickets so much so, that it's almost — but not quite — deterring us from shopping. But last weekend, after finally unchaining ourselves from the computer, we actually got out of the house, hit the pavement, and ducked into local shops, all for the benefit of you, dear reader. We've got the low-down on what's where, plus a few stylish events for you to hit up this weekend. All after the jump…

SHOP TALK

Strolling through town? Wanna know where to stop? Here's our notes from last weekend:

First on our stop was Magnet, (2508 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley) though it's West Berkeley location seems a bit out of the way (unless you're going to Fourth Street, which on a Saturday, I'm definitely not!). We've been hearing so many good things about this affordably priced boutique and its selection of not-so-run-of-the-mill lines. Sure enough, we were pleasantly shocked to find French label IRO, which, after spotting in Lucky Magazine (yes, it's good for some things) we searched high and low for online and only found one retailer who could supply us with our now much-lived-in staple biker jacket (and on sale; don't hate). Anywho, Magnet had the coveted femme-meets-tough jackets in a lighter, spring color, plus some tres chic knit-sweater tops. Owner Camille noted that as soon as she put the four jackets on the rack, two sold the same day. No wonder. They're super hot and reasonably priced (for less than $500, if you consider Mike & Chris' $800+ jackets).

That was enough driving for me, so I decided to stroll the ave.

Next up: Village Shoes
Sadly, comfort shoes are often equated with those huge geriatric nurse potatoes. Or (gasp) Birkenstocks. But to find comfort and style? Increasingly, shoe designers are upping their comfort quotient, thanks to the flats trend, which continues to rage. But to boot, comfort shoes often carry a hefty price tag, making them expensive and fug. Not so good. Village Shoes (2915 College Ave., Berkeley) does a pretty good job of offering style and comfort — not to mention their impeccable customer service (especially compared to a larger, more popular Berkeley comfort-shoe shop) — including my fave Beautifeels. Their current cutest-comfort style also happened to be most reasonably priced: Clarks' Anissa for about $80. (They're also available here at Piperlime (free shipping and returns)for you out-of-towners). Just in time for spring.

Twenty-Two Shoes
Simultaneously wooed and frightened by their mention of new spring styles, I found Twenty-Two's just-released selection to indeed be overwhelming (not to mention pricey). Their cork-soled options (including a peep-toe heel in perforated leather) reach Birkenstock-level comfort. Plenty of flatter options as well, in eye-popping colors including mustard yellow, cherry red, and forest green. Their new handbags? Deadly! Twenty-Two Shoes (5856 College Ave., Oakland). Free parking in back.

Iniam (5902 College Ave., Oakland)
I so want this store to wow me — and its shabby-chic décor certainly does, channeling former spot Francophile's Ildi & Co. — but the clothes on the racks seem less inspired. The store seems to try and work that middle ground between FIT down the street and Dish up the street — balancing older-woman conservativeness with younger woman perspective, respectively. Instead, it's stock (Theory, James Perse tees, Cynthia Steffe, etc.) tends to be a bit too much on the safe side for my liking. We're still rooting for them though! (for more iniam news, see below)

Atomic Garden (5453 College Ave., Oakland)
Some higher power is preventing me from visiting Atomic Garden, which is so sad because it tempts me so! Every time I've tried to go, it's been closed. First, after noon on a weekend (with no hours posted), and then, recently, in mid-afternoon on a weekend with a note promising to return in 45 minutes. Doh. Oh well.

Rockridge Home (5418 College Ave., Oakland) and August (5410 College Ave., Oakland).
While trying to wait patiently for Atomic Garden to open (but failing, alas), we stopped by Rockridge Home across the street. Though I'm less inclined to splurge on my home than my body, their travel accessories table was tempting indeed (especially because this lucky gal is embarking on a European vacation soon). Among the goodies: large canvas totes and teenie change purses courtesy of Finnish design icon Marimekko, whose large prints are the epitome of simple and chic. August must be in between seasons still because there was surprisingly little on their rack (one helper resembled a mannequin). Events This Weekend

Alameda Antiques Fair
It's the first Sunday of the month, meaning it's time for the Alameda Antique Fair, which, if you remember, was featured in the Chronicle a couple weeks ago and in the blog pages of Fashioni. Hundreds of vendors, strictly vintage, and a people-watching haven.
When: Sunday, April 6, 6 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: The old navy base — click here for directions
How much: Depends what time you get there. But after 9 a.m., it's just $5.

Iniam Shoes & Champagne
Looks like the store has hooked up with Walnut Creek boutique Deliciouz to carry shoes by Chie Mihara, Pedro Garcia, Repetto, Eileen Shields, and Costume National, starting tomorrow, April 5. If you haven't seen them yet, Chie Mihara has some of the most bad-ass spring shoes we've seen so far. To mark the occasion, they'll even be serving champagne. (21 and over only). For more photos, check out iniam's blog here. Looks like they've given us another reason to go back!
When: Saturday & Sunday, April 5-6
Where: 5902 College Ave., Oakland

Chill & Shop
Another fashion/music/art event hosted by Chillin' Productions at 111 Minna happens tomorrow night. Check out fifty local fashion designers, plus live music by Little Yellow Perfect and DJs. 21 and over. Check their web site for more info.
When: Saturday, April 5, 8 p.m.
Where: 111 Minna
How much it'll cost ya: $6

Just Cause
Diane von Furstenberg, on sale, online.

FASHANALYSIS: Style News & Views


The East Bay Needs a Department Store (Closer than WC)
Just the other day I was driving down Broadway lamenting DTO's lack of a department store. I was one of those kids who accompanied my mom to Emporium Capwell's and Imagnin's (which was oh-so high end!) back in the day. But now, even Gap has abandoned downtown. Perhaps with the Fox Theater coming on board and condos coming online (assuming folks want to live there, or can afford it), more people will drive retailers to take notice. (Don't get me wrong, DTO has spruced up a bit thanks to places like Mignonne and Drift Denim, not to mention that other home store whose name is currently escaping me). In the meantime, however the hope seems to be placed on Emeryville. The East Bay Business Times is reporting that a lot near Bay Street Mall is being cleared of toxic soil to make way for a possible department store or hotel or some combination thereof. I dunno, shopping on top of a former toxic site (and former Indian burial ground) doesn't sound all too appealing, not to mention the horrific traffic jams already plaguing the area. In any case, it's a fairly safe bet it won't be anything close to Imagnin's.

Got a tip for Buy Curious? Store opening? Sale? Send it to buycurious[at]eastbayexpress.com

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