An Item for Every Whimsy 

You don't need to cross the bridge to find what you're looking for, whether it's an antique lamp, designer shoe, or thrift-store bargain.

Antiques & Flea Markets

Alameda Point Antiques Faire (2900 Navy Way, Alameda, 510-522-7500, AlamedaPointAntiquesFaire.com, first Sunday of the month) is the place to find Tiffany lamps, old paintings, and ancient furniture, and the best place to find unique and weird antiques in the Bay Area.

Ashby Flea Market (1937 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-0744, weekends, 7-7) offers incense, beads, foods, and other hippie-influenced items.

East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse (4695 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-547-6470) offers a combination of salvaged goods and crafting supplies.

Laney College Swap Meet (7th St. at Fallon St., Oakland, Sunday mornings) is hands-down the best flea market in the Bay Area, at which you must dig for buried treasures.

Oakland Coliseum Flea Market (5401 Coliseum Way, Oakland, 510-534-0325, daily) offers daily flea-market fare, with a mild emphasis on small, shop-like groups that can sell you tires, illegal birds, and porn.

Urban Ore (900 Murray St., Berkeley, 510-841-7283) is a massive lot and warehouse that holds all manner of salvaged goods, but specializes in housing fixtures like stoves, doors, windows, and toilets.

White Elephant Sale (333 Lancaster St., Oakland, first quarter of the year), sponsored by the Oakland Museum of California, is a huge sale where you can find clothes, furniture, instruments, books, toys, and bric-a-brac, all at prices that often dip below $1.

Books/Newsstands

A Great Good Place for Books (6120 La Salle Ave., Oakland, 510-339-8210, GreatGoodPlace.indiebound.com) is the hills' hub for author events, and dozens of local book clubs call it home.

ASUC Bookstore (Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union Building, UC Berkeley, 510-642-1968) is the most convenient spot to stock up on a whole semester's worth of studying, plus a few extra books just for pleasure.

Berkeley Art Museum Bookstore (2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, 510-642-1475) includes sections on art history, art theory, technique, film, architecture, and design, plus everything you'll ever want to know about Botero, Boltanski, and the Fauves.

Book Zoo (14 Glen Ave., Oakland, 510-654-2655, BookZoo.net) is an eclectic, eccentric, and egalitarian treasure box of secondhandiana.

Bookmark Bookstore (721 Washington St., Oakland, 510-444-0473), run by Friends of the Oakland Public Library, sells a variety of books for low cost.

Books Inc. (1344 Park St, Alameda, 510-522-2226; 1760 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-525-7777, BooksInc.net) has all the books you need, plus readings by high-profile authors, including many beloved children's authors.

Borders (5903 Shellmound St., Emeryville, 510-654-1633, Borders.com) is a bookstore with its own cafe and virtually every type of new book you can think of.

Builders Booksource (1817 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-845-6874, BuildersBooksource.com) features volumes on architecture, design, and construction.

Dark Carnival (3086 Claremont Ave., Berkeley, 510-654-7323, DarkCarnival.com) specializes in fantasy, sci-fi, and mystery fiction.

Diesel, A Bookstore (5433 College Ave., Oakland, 510-653-9965, DieselBookstore.com) is an independent bookstore where you can find a classic or something unconventional.

Eastwind Books (2066 University Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-2350, AsiaBookCenter.com) offers a literary trip to Asia and Asian America.

Half Price Books (2036 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-526-6080, HPB.com) is a vast football-fieldish emporium of secondhand and remaindered books at markdown prices, plus CDs and DVDs also in stock.

Issues (20 Glen Ave., Oakland, 510-652-5700, IssuesShop.com) stocks enough magazines and newspapers to make you almost forget the Internet exists.

Marcus Books (3900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, 510-652-2344) is an independently owned bookstore specializing in African-American topics.

Moe's Books (2476 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-849-2087, MoesBooks.com) has secondhand books in every imaginable category, plus a lively calendar of readings by visiting authors, especially poets.

Mrs. Dalloway's Literary and Garden Arts (2904 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-704-8222, MrsDalloways.com) features a full schedule of readings, demonstrations, workshops, and other events that attract enthusiastic crowds.

Ned's (2480 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, 510-204-0900, NedsBooks.com/ucb) sells both new and used versions of textbooks for current UC Berkeley courses.

The Other Change of Hobbit (3264 Adeline St., Berkeley, 510-848-0413, OtherChangeofHobbit.com) is a long-lived and well-loved sci-fi/fantasy specialty shop.

Pegasus Books (2349 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-649-1320; 5560 College Ave., Oakland, 510-652-6259; 1855 Solano Ave., Berkeley, 510-525-6888; PegasusBookstore.com) offers new and used books with lots of page-flipping elbow room.

Revolution Books (2425 Channing Way, Berkeley, 510-848-1196, RevolutionBooks.org) is where fiery chat about the Revolutionary Communist Party and its fellow travelers is always on tap.

University Press Books (2430 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, 510-548-0585, UniversityPressBooks.com) carries the output of university presses from around the world.

Walden Pond (3316 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-832-4438, WaldenPondBooks.com) has a politics section that could take a whole afternoon to browse; the labor-studies and art sections would stretch well into the evening.

Your Local Library (OaklandLibrary.org. CCCLibrary.org, BerkeleyPublicLibrary.org, and ACLibrary.org) has books, author events, children's events, workshops, secondhand book sales, and much more.

Cameras, Computers, & Electronics

Al Lasher's Electronics (1734 University Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-5915) is a Berkeley institution that holds all the pieces you need to fix a radio, stereo, or death ray.

Alameda County Computer Resource Center (620 Page St., Berkeley, 510-528-4052) is a nonprofit computer recycler that fixes old machines, installs Linux on them, and then gives them away to the needy.

Apple Store (5656 Bay St., Emeryville, 510-350-2400) is the best place to find iPhone needs, and a great spot to get advice on how to fix a broken Mac.

Best Buy (3700 Mandela Parkway, Oakland, 510-420-0323) is always a great place to find anything that plugs in and makes noise.

Looking Glass Photo and Camera (2848 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-6888) is where the best equipment can be had at decent prices.

Sarber's Cameras (1749 Solano Ave., Berkeley, 510-526-0775) is the most reliable place to get your best photos printed out, though it can be pricey.

Sound Well (1467 University Ave., Berkeley, 510-549-2126, TheSoundWell.com) is a shop that still fixes stereo equipment and components.

Used Computer Store (2277 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-8686) is the best place to find old equipment cheap for those who make their music, photos, and mixes in digital form.

Cannabis Dispensaries & Supply

7 Stars Holistic Healing Center (3288 Pierce St., El Cerrito, 510-527-7827)

Berkeley Patients Care Collective (2590 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-540-7878)

Berkeley Patients Group (2747 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-540-6013) sells marijuana buds from the super-pure high level down to $100 ounces of the brown Mexican you smoked in high school, plus free food, coffee, classes, and on-site events.

Blue Sky (377 17th St., Oakland, 510-251-0690) coffee shop offers good prices on a limited selection of marijuana buds, consumables, and clones.

Harborside Health Center (1840 Embarcadero, Oakland, 510-533-0146) has a massive selection of high-end marijuana nuggets.

iGrow (70 Hegenberger Loop, Oakland, iGrowOakland.com), called the "Wal-Mart of weed," is a 15,000-square-foot facility featuring equipment, training, and on-site doctors to conduct cannabis-card evaluation.

Oakland Patient ID Center (1733 Broadway, Oakland, 510-832-5346) is where you can get your cannabis card for only $25 so you can find your way to any of the hundreds of dispensaries in the Bay Area and get the stickiest of the icky.

Oaksterdam University (1600 Broadway, Oakland, 510-251-1544) offers classes in growing, legal issues, and patient care.

Purple Heart Patient Center (415 4th St., Oakland, 510-625-7877)

Clothing — New

A la Folie (1844 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-845-1616, VisitAlaFolie.com) features exquisitely sexy lingerie.

American Apparel (2315 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-981-1641, AmericanApparel.com) carries a rainbow of body-skimming cotton tees, tanks, sweats, and undies for guys and gals — all sweatshop-free and made in the USA.

Anthropologie (740 Hearst Ave., Berkeley, 510-486-0705, Anthropologie.com), a beautifully laid-out fashion emporium, is aimed at the stylish thirties-and-up woman with an equal eye for whimsy, sophistication, and professionalism.

Atomic Garden (5453 College Ave., Oakland, 510-923-0543, AtomicGardenOakland.com) is a truly unique boutique stocked with a small but exquisite selection of casual clothing and accessories made from organic, recycled, or sustainable materials.

Bancroft Clothing Co. (2530 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, 510- 841-0762) has fun, flirty dresses, jeans, and other staples for far less dough.

Duchess Boutique (3587 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 925-962-0208, ShopDuchess.com) is a super-stylish spot where you can find trendy designer threads, jewelry, shoes, and sunglasses.

Elements (2937 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-6876) offers an equal array of smart basics for work and play.

Erica Tanov (1827 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-849-3331, EricaTanov.com) has intricately embroidered skirts and tops, light-as-air dresses, and perfectly tailored trousers by a local designer.

EVarize (2634 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-845-0376, EVarize.com) specializes in customizing designs to fit each shopper's taste and body.

Golden Gate Western Wear (12153 San Pablo Ave., Richmond, 510-232-3644, GoldenGateWesternWear.com) is one East Bay store where shoppers can peruse Stetson hats, Wrangler jeans, and leather holsters, as well as faux-pearl-buttoned plaids, embroidered long-sleeve shirts, and, of course, cowboy boots.

H&M (5630 Bay St., Emeryville, HM.com) has cheap clothes good for a half-dozen public displays before looking beat.

Halmar Work Clothes Center (1111 University Ave., Berkeley, 510-845-4771) is an authentic working-stiff haven where you'll find Dickies, Carhartt, and Ben Davis stuff for a steal.

Hot Topic (2332 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-3128) is where skulls and Hello Kitty happily co-exist under one roof.

Jeremy's (2967 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-849-0701, Jeremys.com) offers some of the best bargains around for men and women on fancy brand-name clothing, from Barneys to J. Crew.

McMullen Boutique (4395 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510- 420-6906, ShopMcMullen.com) is a never-fail source for sophisticated, contemporary clothes by a slew of well-known and fresh designers.

Slash (2840 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-665-5994, SlashBerkeley.com), an Elmwood mainstay whose genius salespeople have been matching men and women with perfect-fitting denim since 1979, carries new and vintage Levi's and other midpriced brands.

Urban Outfitters (2590 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, 510-486-1300, UrbanOutfitters.com) is for fashion-forward students seeking new duds for class and beyond.

Clothing — Used & Vintage

Buffalo Exchange (2585 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, CA, 510-644-9202, BuffaloExchange.com) carries some vintage items, weird stuff from overseas, and, yes, barely worn H&M and Forever 21.

Community Thrift Store (625 Valencia St., San Francisco, 415-861-4910, CommunityThriftSF.org)

Crossroads Trading Co. (2338 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-7600; 5901 College Ave., Oakland, 510-420-1952, CrossroadsTrading.com) is where you can net some serious big-label scores on jeans and tops.

Down at Lulu's (6603 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-601-0964, DownatLulus.com) is a kitschy, party-cool store where you can get rock 'n' roll boots and 1980s neon; it's also a hair salon.

Maribel (3251 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, 510-419-0677) high-ticket designer items in a true consignment boutique setting.

Mars Mercantile (2398 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, 510-843-6711) boasts two floors of vintage — guayaberas to Donna Reed housedresses to ironic T-shirts to 1980s prom — with a $20 median price and a stock that's organized by era and/or style.

Mercy Vintage Now (4188 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-654-5599)

Painted Bird (1360 Valencia St., San Francisco, 415-401-7027)

Pretty Penny (5488 College Ave., Oakland, 510-594-9219, PrettyPennyClothing.com) boasts local designers mixed with the, well, pretty side of the 20th century — rainbow prints, strappy sandals, and flowery purses — and shares space with Saturn Records, so you can browse music, too.

Retro-Fit Vintage (910 Valencia St., San Francisco, 415-550-1530)

Rockridge Rags (5711 College Ave, Oakland, 510-655-2289) is a somewhat conservative consignment boutique.

Schauplatz (791 Valencia St., San Francisco, 415-864-5665)

Thrift Town (16160 E. 14th St., San Leandro, 510-278-1766; 3645 San Pablo Dam Rd., El Sobrante, 510-222-8696; 41200 Blacow Rd. #E., Fremont, 510-661-9150) specializes in $10-and-under, neatly organized, and clean wares, with designer labels represented and 1960s and 1970s items totally findable.

Twisters Vintage (2445 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-9478) offers a wide selection of vintage menswear, glamorous jewelry, and cocktail dresses at the midrange prices.

Food & Drink

99 Ranch (3288 Pierce St., Richmond, 510-558-210) is an Asian-foods supermarket with (live) fish, tofu, and meat sections, and specialties like bitter-melon and mochi ice cream.

AG Ferrari (2905 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-849-2701) is a squeaky-clean establishment where you can stock up on salads, sandwiches, and all the makings for a perfect picnic.

Alameda Natural Grocery (1650 Park St., Alameda, 510-865-1500) is an emporium of natural meats, bulk items, and organic produce, and it has its own roomy parking lot.

Alameda Wine Co. (2315 Central Ave., Alameda, 510-523-9463) gets points for good prices and friendly service.

Bakesale Betty (5098 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-985-1213) attracts long lines during lunch for its famous fried-chicken sandwiches.

Baron's Meat & Poultry (1650 Park St., Alameda, 510-864-1915) serves fresh and marinated meats, fish, and more.

Berkeley Bowl (2020 Oregon St., Berkeley, 510-843-6929; 920 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, 510-898-9555, BerkeleyBowl.com) features the nation's most expansive produce section, with an in-house restaurant at the opposite end.

Berkeley Farmers' Markets (Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Center St. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley; Tuesdays, 2 p.m-7 p.m., Derby St. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley; Thursdays, 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Shattuck Ave. at Rose St., Berkeley, EcologyCenter.org/bfm) features super fresh seasonal produce, along with breads, oils, other organic foods — and samples.

Bittersweet Chocolate Café (5427 College Ave., Oakland, 510-654-7159) proffers drinks, pastries, and bars from chocolate dulce de leche pudding to chocolate Thai iced tea.

Blacksmith Cellars (2301 Monarch St., Ste. 300, Alameda, 510-917-0537) was named the area's best winery by East Bay Express readers.

Cheese Board Collective (1504 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-549-3183) lets you choose from a world's worth of cheese; it's picnic central, and the breads are often still warm from the oven.

Crixa Cakes (2748 Adeline St., Berkeley, 510-548-0421), like an old-fashioned Eastern European bakery, has everything from chocolate-cherry mousse cake to Fatima's Thighs.

Du Vin Fine Wines (2526 A Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, 510-769-9463) also includes affordable selections spanning the globe, from Argentina to New Zealand.

El Cerrito Plaza Farmers' Market (Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. year round, 510-528-7992) features super fresh seasonal produce, along with breads, oils, other organic foods — and samples.

Farmer Joe's (3501 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, 510-482-8178), not to be confused with Trader Joe's, is a natural grocery with friendly staff and an ample selection of organic packaged goods, baked goods, produce, and more.

Farmstead Cheeses & Wines (6218 La Salle Ave., Oakland, 510-864-9463) restores dignity to a perfect pairing with well over one hundred types of cheese and a calendar of events for new vinophiles.

Feel Good Bakery (1650 Park St., Alameda, 510-864-2733) reminds you why bread is called the staff of life.

Genova (5095 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-652-7401) evokes Italian-American delis of yore; folks line up for large sandwiches stacked with cold cuts and more at this Oakland favorite.

Grand Bakery (3264 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-465-1110), the only kosher bakery in Northern California, features delicious challah .

Grand Lake Farmers' Market (Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round, Splash Pad Park, Grand Ave. at Lake Park Ave., Oakland MarinCountyFarmersMarkets.org) features super-fresh seasonal produce, along with breads, oils, other organic foods — and samples.

Grocery Outlet (2001 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-845-1771) features name-brand staples and delicacies and lots of wine and beer marked way, way down.

Indus Food Center (1920 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-549-3663) is a thriving part of Berkeley's Middle Eastern food nexus with halvah by the tub, soft flat Afghan bread, and eye-poppingly hot harissa sauce.

Ici (2948 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-665-6054) serves house-made ice cream, from honey-lavender to gingersnap, along with the classics for purists.

It's All Good Bakery (5622 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Oakland, 510-597-9700), run by a rapper turned baker, offers his Southern grandmother's specialties including peach cobbler, sweet-potato pie, and 7-Up Pound Cake.

Kensington Farmers' Market (Sundays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Oak View Ave. at Colusa Circle, Kensington, AboutKensington.com/farmersmarket.html) features super fresh seasonal produce, along with breads, oils, other organic foods — and samples.

Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant (1605 San Pablo, Berkeley, 510-524-1524) features French and Italian sippables spanning a wide range of prices.

La Farine (6323 College Ave., Oakland, 510-654-0338) is a French bakery offering rich galettes, brioches, and croissants — the latter sold plain or laced with chocolate, fruits, and nuts.

Masse's Pastries (1469 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-649-1004), run by Paul Masse, a former pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton, blends the breathtaking with the traditional.

Nabolom Bakery (2708 Russell St., Berkeley, 510-845-2253) is a worker-owned, vegan-friendly cafe serving baked goods like the Infinite Twist, a brown-sugar-topped carbo-rush.

Old Oakland Farmers' Market (Fridays, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. year round, 9th St. between Broadway and Clay, Oakland, UrbanVillageOnline.com) features super fresh seasonal produce, along with breads, oils, other organic foods — and samples.

Rosenblum Cellars (2900 Main St., Ste. 1100, Alameda, 510-865-7007) gained an international reputation for their Zinfandel and Rhône varietal wines.

Solano Cellars (1580 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-525-9463) serves light meals to accompany its vino, with a tasting bar in the back.

St. George Spirits/Hangar One Vodka (2601 Monarch St., Alameda, 510-769-1601, StGeorgeSpirits.com) offers tours every weekend and has an onsite retail store. But the real draw is the tasting room, which offers well-priced flights of traditional and flavored absinthe, eau de vie, tequila, and vodka.

Sweet Adeline Bake Shop (3350 Adeline St., Berkeley,510-985-7381) features tea cakes, ginger sticks, peppermint patties, and chocolate cream pie complement cheese quiches, challah, and more.

Teacake Bake Shop (5615 Bay St., Emeryville, 510-655-0865) makes the handsomest cupcakes and cookie sandwiches around out of high-class ingredients like imported Belgian Chocolate and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla.

Ver Brugge (6321 College Ave., Oakland, 510-658-6854) features meat, poultry, and fish sold by white-aproned butchers who offer traditional skill and solid suggestions for how to prepare their fare.

The Wine Mine (5427 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-547-9463) specializes in under-$15 bottles and offers $1 Saturday tastings.

Furniture & Home Furnishings

Art Deco Collection (3227 14th Ave., Oakland, 415-255-1902, by appointment only), an SF retail outlet with an Oakland warehouse, is full of furniture, art, and collectibles carefully selected by consummate dealer Richard Fishman, who has a penchant for Euro finds, particularly French and Belgian ceramic cloisonné pottery, French lighting, and all things cocktail.

Bed Bath and Beyond (multiple locations) builds its brand on selection, medium to high prices, and the "beyond" section of items you never knew you couldn't live without.

Berkeley Horticulture (1310 McGee Ave., Berkeley, 510-526-4704) is a family-owned top retail nursery with horticulture advice, garden info, plants, and accessories.

Berkeley Lighting Company (1623 San Pablo Ave., 510-524-1782, Berkeley) is where savvy shoppers expect to find those just-right lighting options for in and outside the house.

Berkeley Mills (2830 Seventh St., Berkeley, 510-549-2854), established in 1988 by woodworkers, is the one and only stop for ultra-chic, high-end, quality-crafted custom furniture.

Clausen House Thrift Shop (4834 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-653-6812) is literally packed with new and used electronics, clothing, furniture, and household goods, all at very affordable prices, and helps developmentally disabled adults in Oakland live independently.

Cost Plus World Market (multiple locations), an import junkie's safe house, features furniture, bedding, housewares, knickknacks, alcohol, and specialty food items.

Crate & Barrel Berkeley Outlet (1785 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-528-5500) carries merch that might be from a season or two ago; otherwise, it's the same great stuff.

CVS/pharmacy (5100 Broadway, Oakland, 510-654-1556) has it all, but the real treat is the well-stocked, outstanding garden center from whence many a North Oaklander has started a garden.

Design Within Reach (1770 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-524-1994) pulls together classic furniture, lights, flooring, and domestic accessories made by the likes of Herman Miller, Artek, and Objekto — the companies who hold the licenses for the original designs.

East Bay Nursery (2332 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-845-6490) is a family-run gardener's dream founded in 1926, where the folks behind the watering cans, rakes, and hoes are helpful and knowledgeable about the nursery's fine Japanese maples, specimen trees, perennials, natives, shrubs, roses, conifers, water plants, pottery, and seasonal shop.

The Ecology Center Store (2530 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-3402) carries a wide range of nontoxic cleaning products, paints, and household supplies.

Ecohome Improvement (2619 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-3500) offers eco-friendly supplies on every front, ranging from flooring and paint to tiles and countertops, though these supplies usually cost a bundle.

EQ3 (5603 Bay St., Emeryville, 510-601-0400), displayed in a well-flowing Emeryville showroom, features fresh and spartan square-ish sofas, love seats, sectionals, platform beds, cosmic coffee tables, and perfunctory desks.

Fenton MacLaren Home Furnishings (5533 College Ave., Oakland, 510-658-1414; 1325 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-526-5377) today stocks restored furniture, but over the decades has added new Mission- and Shaker-style lines and unfinished furniture to the mix, maintaining a commitment to quality and fair prices.

The Futon Shop (5745 Christie Ave., Emeryville, 510-595-6797) is a chainster with an SF factory where mattresses are hand made.

IKEA (4400 Shellmound St., Emeryville, 510-420-4532) is a mazelike gargantuan store full of vivid color, innovative thinking, good value, and cleverness.

Lola Home (2950 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-981-8345) offers memorable items for home, especially in the realm of fabric arts such as felt pillows.

Magic Gardens Landscaping (729 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-2351) provides all the diversion a dreamer could want.

Maison d'Etre (5640 College Ave., Oakland, 510-658-2801), an upscale home-decor emporium of intriguing plates, plus pillows, cute candles, clever cards, luxurious linens, and then some, invites lingering and seeks to celebrate the home and the people and pets that live there.

Ohmega Salvage (2407 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-204-0767), a 31-year-old architectural salvage yard, features two huge lots full of home accessories and a century's worth of design.

Pillow Park Plaza (1419 Park, Alameda, 510-521-6227) sells high-quality, comfortable products, and offers the kind of personal service that every independent retailer should provide but which is absent in your average gigantic superstore.

Rockridge Furniture & Design (5601 College Ave., Oakland, 510-652-7115) is full of antiques and reproductions for Craftsman bungalow owners who insist on period furnishings for their vintage homes, or for adding the finishing touch to any room.

Room with a Past (1557A Third Ave., Walnut Creek, 925-933-1903) opens on Thursday evenings, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with fresh vintage inventory and accessories, keeping true to the thrill of estate sales, which inspired the founders to offer finds to the public.

Scandinavian Designs (2101Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-848-8250; 1701 Arnold Industrial Pl., Concord, 925-827-4466) offers well-made furniture that's worth holding on to, and this chain is well stocked from bedroom to living room.

Target (various locations) is one big-box store that is actually fun to visit.

Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles (3742 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-763-3342), a nonprofit economic development project of the African People's Education and Defense Fund, is so full that furniture spills forth onto the sidewalk.

Gifts

Bear Basics (2350 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-883-9050) features practically every piece of Cal clothing and paraphernalia ever made — in other words, it's the perfect hunting ground for gifts for your family back home.

Corazón del Pueblo (4814 International Blvd., Oakland, 510-532-6733, CorazondelPueblo.com) is more than just a cornucopia of imported Mexican posters, cards, clothing, crafts, and folk art.

Ellington & French (2942 Domingo Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-8188, EllingtonandFrench.com) has practically everything in sight — from dishes to hand soap, linens to letterpress cards, necklaces to baby toys.

Heartfelt (6309 College Ave., Oakland, 510-655-9806) You'll delight in inexpensive crystal jewelry, little windup toys, stellar books, and clothes for kids, colorful kitchen supplies, wrapping paper and cards, and the famous "I hella [heart] Oakland" tees.

Ichiban Kan (10562 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, 510-528-5210) has a mesmerizing variety of Japanese imports, including Hello Kitty and friends knickknacks, beauty supplies, bento boxes and ceramic bowls, and snacks like Pocky and the sports drink Pocari Sweat.

Philippa Roberts (4176 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-655-0656, PhilippaRoberts.com) is best known for boasting a jaw-dropping selection of beautiful (yet not bank-account-emptying) brushed silver and semiprecious stone jewelry by its namesake designer.

Rockridge Home (5418 College Ave., Oakland, 510-420-1928) is a quirky store with a design arm, fun furniture, plush floor mats, trendy housewares, novelty books, baby products, green gizmos, and other relatively inexpensive items (bowls, glassware, plates, etc.) that make swell hostess gifts.

Sagrada Sacred Arts (4926 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-653-7196, Sagrada.com) offers pilgrims across many faith traditions everything from books on doctrinal esoterica and clerical vestments to prayer beads and rosaries to music and books.

San Quentin Prison Gift Shop (just inside the east gate of the prison, 100 Main St., San Quentin) features resident-made items like boxes, paperweights, and jewelry, as well as souvenir T-shirts and mugs.

The Treehouse Green Gifts (2935 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-204-9292, TreehouseGreenGifts.com) has something for everyone, regardless of whether you're shopping for a recycling fiend or a pal who could care less about saving the planet: stuffed animals sewn by rural women in Kenya; bags and wallets made from old leather jackets and other materials; reclaimed wood birdhouses; jewelry made from bark, buttons, typewriter keys, aluminum.

Urban Indigo (3339 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, 510-419-0451), a kitschy-cool shop, is crammed with unique treasures — jewelry, toys, stationery, candles, wallets, bags, hand towels, cards, candles — with surprisingly reasonable price tags.

Jewelry, Shoes, & Accessories

The 14 Karats (2910 College Ave. Berkeley, 510-644-1640, 14Karats.com), an Elmwood institution for thirty years, is an independent, pretense-free shop specializing in setting conflict-free diamonds and other precious gemstones in unique gold, palladium, and platinum settings.

A Step Forward (4018 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-339-0500) sets the bar for independent shoe shops with a stellar selection featuring brands including Aerosoles, Born, Diesel, Simple, Wanted, and Dansko.

Adidas Originals Concept Store (2333 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-704-1934) offers limited-edition and vintage-comeback shoes, sportswear, hats, watches, and other accessories.

Berkeley Hat Company (2510 Telegraph Ave. Berkeley, 510-549-2955, BerkeleyHat.com) has fedoras, Panama hats, Stetsons, fancy felt church hats, Kangol caps, hats especially for big heads, and more.

Bows & Arrows (2513 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-649-6683, BowsandArrowsBerkeley.com) is akin to a MOMA gift shop filled with sneakers.

Deliciouz (1354 North Main St., Walnut Creek, 925-933-7489, Deliciouz.com) has fabulous flats and heels by European and domestic designers that you won't find anywhere else.

District (2332 Alameda Ave., Alameda, 510-865-1640, DistrictFootwear.com) is a specialty sneaker boutique housed in a gorgeous old building next to the Alameda Museum.

Dr. Harlan Wong's (1928 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-4030) will give you a thorough exam and help you pick the ideal frames for your look as well as your pocketbook — styles start at $42 and stop at, well, Moschino.

Elmwood Village Shoes (2915 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-845-4054) has a small yet refined selection of stylish comfortable shoes — and incredibly attentive customer service to boot.

Hat Guys (1764 Broadway, Oakland, 510-834-6868, HatGuys.com) is another superstore where you can pick from hundreds of styles, including a particularly vast array of dress hats.

Lunettes du Monde (1799E Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-559-8181) combs the globe for distinctive, flattering frames made from the lightest, thinnest, most flexible materials.

M. Lowe & Co. (1519 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. 510-486-0613) carries a vast array of beautiful beads and baubles that range from not-so-pricey Indian silver to diamond necklaces that cost as much as a nice new car.

Moderne Eye Optometry (5802 College Ave., Oakland, 510-653-4242) may be pricey, but it boasts over-the-top customer service that's something of a local legend.

Pavé Fine Jewelry (5496 College Ave., Oakland, 510-547-7000; 1778 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-528-7300, PaveFineJewelry.com) has a crisp and shiny decor à la your typical high-end gem shop, but the affable employees are prone to grin at you rather than glare — and they'll help you find (or design) the jewels of your dreams.

Rabat Shoes (1825 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-549-9195, RabatShoes.com) has hundreds of styles for men and women, ranging from European labels such as Camper, Repetto, and Robert Clergerie to California-born brands like exquisitely handcrafted Cydwok.

Skechers USA Outlet (5815 Cutting Blvd, El Cerrito, 510-235-1123) has cute, comfy kicks for everyone in the family.

Sunglass Hut (5608 Bay St., Emeryville, 510-658-8627) features a wide array of the latest designer styles and unparalleled customer service.

UC Berkeley Optometry Clinic (2222 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, 510-643-2020, CalEyeCare.org) offers tests by (supervised) eye-docs-in-training, plus cheap glasses and chic frames.

Upper Playground (2509 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510- 649-0740, UpperPlayground.com) specializes in brilliantly illustrated urban street wear with a hip-hop flair, designed by artists near and far.

The Walk Shop (2120 Vine St., Berkeley, 510-849-3628, WalkShop.com) has pioneered the comfort shoe revolution since 1978, with labels including Josef Seibel, Stonefly, Wolky, and Pikolinos.

Malls

Bay Street (5616 Bay St., Emeryville, 510-655-4002, BayStreetEmeryville.com) includes Old Navy, Sephora, J. Jill, Pottery Barn, the Apple Store, and Barnes & Noble; restaurants run the gamut from P.F. Chang's to Zao Noodle Bar; and incredible cupcakes and cookies can be found at locally owned Teacake Bake Shop.

Bayfair Center (15555 E. 14th St., San Leandro, 510-357-6000) features tons of shoe stores and a refreshingly diverse clientele.

Broadway Plaza (S. Main St. & Mount Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, 925-939-7600, BroadwayPlaza.com) encompasses familiar mid- to high-end chains — from Tiffany to H&M to Crate and Barrel — anchored by Nordstrom's and Macy's, with adjacent shop-filled streets stretching as far as the eye can see.

Hilltop Mall (2200 Hilltop Mall Rd., Richmond, 510-223-1933, ShopHilltop.com) is for the urban teen looking for the hottest new tennis shoes and cell-phone accessories, the Wal-Mart aficionado seeking a fix, or the retail sociologist seeking that old-school mall atmosphere (think lots of loitering high schoolers and Orange Julius).

Marina Square Center (off I-880 at Marina Blvd. East, MarinaSquareCenter.com) includes Nordstrom Rack (which some regulars lovingly refer to as "the black hole" because it's so massive you can easily lose track of your shopping buddies), Marshall's, and outlet versions of Eddie Bauer, Eileen Fisher, the Gap, Nine West, and Talbots.

Stoneridge Shopping Center (One Stoneridge Mall, Pleasanton, ShopStoneridge.com) is exceptionally clean, and spacious, and features four department stores (Sears, JC Penney's, Macy's and Nordstrom), more than one hundred of the usual suspects (everything from Abercrombie to Hot Topic to Chico's), and a few fun restaurants like P.F. Chang's and the Cheesecake Factory.

Westfield Center (865 Market St., San Francisco, 415-512-6776, Westfield.com/sanfrancisco) houses a posh food court, a movie theater, five floors of mostly brand-name shops, a Nordstrom department store that climbs an additional five levels, and a dreamy Bloomingdale's.

Miscellaneous

The Bone Room (1569 Solano Ave., Berkeley, 510-526-5252, BoneRoom.com) is full of fossils, sundry animal parts, and unusual jewelry — beetle wing or bacula earrings, anyone?

East Bay Vivarium (1827-C Fifth St., Berkeley, 510-841-1400, EastBayVivarium.com) is a specialty pet store and de facto zoo peddling a menagerie of nature's most curious and/or intimidating creatures.

Good Vibrations (2504 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-8987, GoodVibes.com) isn't your grimy, subterranean sex store; whether you're looking for some devilish handcuffs, a discreet vibrator, or some trucker erotica, you can browse and feel an almost lofty exaltation about the place.

Lacis (2982 Adeline St., Berkeley, 510-843-7290, Lacis.com), both a retail store and a textile arts museum, is a fascinating place to visit even if you're not a needlework or sewing aficionado.

Pet Food Express (6398 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-923-9500, PetFoodExpress.com), which offers a full line of pet products including beds, scratching posts, kennels, and toys along with its "food," is not just a great place to shop because of its institutional convenience, but also because it offers surprisingly good service and promotes animal adoption.

Stagecraft Studios (1854 Alcatraz Ave., Berkeley. 510-653-4424) is a 75-year-old costume, lighting, and makeup store.

Temple Tattoo (384 17th St., Oakland, 510-451-6423, TempleOakland.com) manages to be both inviting and underground, and its extremely talented artists are heavily inked tough guys with hearts of gold. 

Music

1-2-3-4 Go! Records (423 40th St., Oakland, 510-985-0325, 1234GoRecords.com) is both a record label and a record store specializing in punk/hardcore and classic-country records.

5th String (3051 Adeline St., Berkeley, 510-548-8282) has instruments and gear, and also offers lessons and a regular jam session.

Acapulco Records (3509 International Blvd., Oakland, 510-533-2009) specializes in a variety of Mexican pop music, from Lupillo Rivera to La Banda del Recodo, Los Tigres del Norte to Selena.

Amoeba Music (2455 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-549-1125, Amoeba.com) houses virtually any medium for music and visuals — CD, DVD, records, cassettes — and any genre of music, from Bakersfield honky-tonk, punk from Texas 1965 and Iceland 1982, to baroque, hip-hop, bebop, remixes of remixes, old-school R&B, and obscure imports.

Best Music Co. (1716 Broadway, Oakland, 510-832-2024, BestMusicCo.com) serves the East Bay community with all manners of musical instruments, but especially those in the brass and woodwind families.

Blue Note Music (2556 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-2583, BlueNote-Music.com) features new and vintage acoustic and electric guitars and amps, plus a hefty complement of supplies, including a decent array of electronics.

DaSilva Ukulele Co. (2547 8th St., Berkeley, 510-649-1548) can handle all your uke needs — handcrafted instruments, repairs, lessons, and gear.

Down Home Music (10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, 510-525-2129, DownHomeMusic.com) stocks around 24,000 roots and world titles, as well as music-related books, DVDs, LPs, and vintage 78s and 45s.

Groove Yard (5555 Claremont Ave., Oakland, 510-655-8400) has a fairly narrow niche — jazz on vinyl — yet that's precisely why loyal customers coming back.

Guitar Center (10300 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito) offers an unbeatable selection of music gear and instruments — with usually some monster sale price to boot.

Indian Music World (26605 Mission Blvd., Hayward, 510-881-5501) has a wide selection of DVDs, CDs, and cassette tapes in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, and Punjabi.

Leo's Pro Audio (5447 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-653-1000, LeosAudio.com) can hook you up with all kinds of audio gear for recording, mixing, and producing the best live sound.

Mod Lang Records (6328 Fairmount Ave., El Cerrito, 510-486-1880, ModLang.com) is a prototypical "cool" record store, where you can unearth rare European imports, B-sides, the latest and greatest indie album, plus a treasure trove of music memorabilia and magazines.

Powerage Amp & Electronic Repair (510-846-3113, PwrAge.com) is the type of unpretentious, straightforward, professional repair shop that will fix or modify just about anything, new or vintage, at shockingly reasonable prices.

Rasputin Music (2401 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley; 1280 Willow Pass Rd. Concord; 15590 Hesperian Blvd., San Lorenzo, 800-350-8700, RasputinMusic.com) is a CD and record store that also has in-store events featuring local and touring artists.

Starving Musician (2474 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-2648, StarvingMusician.com) specializes in used gear for a clientele that befits its name.

Subway Guitars (1800 Cedar St., Berkeley, 510-841-4106), owned by the eccentric "Fatdog," is a tiny store filled with guitars and basses in all sizes, shapes, and custom-made configurations.

Recreation & Hobbies

510 Skateboarding (2500 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-1863) offers a wide variety of skateboard decks and related skateboarding equipment, as well as the knowledgeable staff required to assemble your board, or at least point you in the right direction of a smart purchase.

Alameda Bicycle (1522 Park St., Alameda, 510-522-0070) guarantees free adjustments on bikes purchased there, warranty their two wheelers for life, and offers classes in basic maintenance.

Alameda Yarn Company (2002 Encinal Ave., Alameda, 510-523-9003) slings yarn, knitting needles, personal instruction, and a convivial space.

Article Pract (5010 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-595-PURL) has lots of natural fibers, unusual blends and dyes, books, patterns, and workshops.

Baubles & Beads (1676 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-BEAD) is a bead emporium featuring everything from Swarovski crystal to vintage Lucite, wooden to Japanese seed beads; they offer classes in all levels of beading, wirework, and even metalsmithing.

Blick Art Materials (5301 Broadway, Oakland, 510-658-2787; 811 University Ave., Berkeley, 510-486-2600) has been around since 1911 and offers everything you'll need to paint, draw, scrapbook, make prints, practice calligraphy, do projects with the kids on a rainy day, and more.

Destination 1440 (1440 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-526-7529) is a one-stop shop for boarders of all types.

East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse (4695 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-547-6470) is a true inspiration point: You'll find sheet music, microscopes, empty mint tins, tiles, dry-erase boards, photos, toys, zippers, and all manner of what-have-you for craft or household projects.

Fish First (1404 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-526-1937) specializes in fly-fishing needs, and its knowledgable staff can offer tips, tricks, and advice.

Hank & Frank Bicycles (6030 College Ave., Oakland, 510-654-2453) is a bike shop with a large stock and a social conscience (you can "adopt an African Bike" through its web site).

Knit-One-One (3360 Adeline St., Berkeley, 510-891-1355) hosts classes — popularly called "knitting spas," owing to the warm, social vibe and delectable goodies provided — in crochet, purling, spinning, sewing, and beyond for beginning to advanced participants.

Mike's Bikes of Berkeley (2161 University Ave., Berkeley, 510-549-8350) is a big bike retailer: two stories with gear, accessories, and more.

Missing Link Bicycle Collective (1988 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-7471) is a responsible business and a hub of the local biker community, sponsoring a few local teams, offering free in-store classes (like fixing flats, building bike wheels, and how not to crash), and providing support to local participants in the recent national Bike to Work Day.

Old West Gun Room (3509 Carlson Blvd., El Cerrito, 510-525-5329) can assist you in all parts of firearm use and care.

REI (1338 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-527-4140) is an East Bay institution that has the supplies you need to cycle, climb, ski, or camp.

Royal Robbins (841 Gilman St., Berkeley, 510-527-1961) stocks extremely comfortable clothes in both natural and synthetic fabrics.

See Jane Run (5817 College Ave., Oakland, 510-428-2681) offers shoes and swimwear to help women get moving.

Title Nine sports store (1840 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-526-1972) specializes in stylish and functional women's sports apparel.

Utrecht Art Supply (1909 University Ave., Berkeley, 510-649-0808) chain carries its own brand of paints, canvas, and brushes alongside national brands of paper, studio furniture, DVDs, and whatever else a serious artist (or art student) could want.

Salons & Body Care

17 Jewels Salon & Spa (4801 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-653-1059, 17JewelsSalonSpa.com) offers more than seventeen reasons to visit, but here are a few: The relaxed decor is chic without being slick, the hair gurus are so friendly you'll want to hug them when you leave, and the middle-of-the-road pricing is beyond reasonable given that they dole out some of the best cuts in town.

Albany Sauna & Hot Tubs (1002 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-525-6262) pulverizes any ache, fatigue, or ailment around — and the redwood hot tubs provide the perfect post-sauna soak.

Alchemy Skin Spa (380 Colusa Ave., Kensington, 510-558-9885, AlchemySkinSpa.com) begins each treatment with a series of questions about your spiritual and emotional state — it'll have a lasting effect on your spirit.

Beauty Center (3976 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-653-7837, BeautyCenterOnline.com) stocks a multitude of shampoos, conditioners, gels, sprays, and relaxers — and that's only the hair products.

Beauty Supply Warehouse (2601 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-763-9805) offers every hair-care item, beauty product, and accessory you can imagine — a rainbow of synthetic wigs, rows of extensions, curlers, brushes, elastics, bandannas, belts, purses, sunglasses, jewelry — even shoes.

The Claremont Spa (41 Tunnel Rd., Berkeley, 800-551-7266, ClaremontResort.com/spa) offers seven "Journey" packages; they're pricey but luxurious.

Down at Lulu's (6603 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-601-0694, DownatLulus.com) is a kitschy, party-cool store where you can get rock 'n' roll boots and 1980s neon; it's also a hair salon.

Festoon Salon (1401 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, 888-35-SALON, FestoonSalon.com) features trendsetting stylists who will do you right.

Lucky's (948 Clay St., Oakland, CA, 510-836-5825) offers tapers, fades, edge-ups, and razor cuts, with notable clientele and basic cuts starting at $20.

The Nail Shop (multiple locations, 510-522-1401, TheNailShop.com) is where women peruse celebrity weeklies alongside men yakking into Bluetooth headsets while getting their feet scrubbed.

National Holistic Institute (5900 Hollis St., Suite Q, Emeryville, 510-547-6444 ex. 141, NHIMassage.com) offers massages by students for $35.

Oh! My Nappy Hair (311 19th St., Oakland, 510-839-3877, OhMyNappyHair.com) offers a space where African-American women can love their hair in its natural state, free from chemicals or relaxers — gorgeous braiding, twisting, and hair weaving. By appointment only.

Peter Thomas (1700 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-0697, PeterThomasHair.com) teaches his stylists patience when operating sharp objects near a person's vanity: Be methodical, use scissors, be cool, end of story.

Piedmont Springs (3939 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-652-9191, PiedmontSprings.com) offers absolute bliss for $15 an hour.

Polish on Piedmont (4319 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-601-0909, PolishSpa.com) boasts a selection of creative self-care offerings that sound too good to be true: a eucalyptus and peppermint soak, a marine and sea-salt scrub exfoliation treatment, an alpha-hydroxy peppermint clay mask, and, of course, the spa's signature "Soothe Your Soul" pedicure.

Razor's Edge (2516 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, 510-521-9070) offers a reliable, no-frills haircut for $15 in just fifteen minutes flat, plus plenty of guys talking politics and sports.

Sephora (5626 Bay St., Emeryville, 510-547-6200) is a one-stop-shop for the best products available to make your hair, face, and body look and smell great.

Toys, Games, & Comics

The Ark (1812 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-849-1930) offers oodles of traditional toys, from puppets to wooden boats and kites to dollies.

Borders (various locations in Emeryville, Alameda, and Pleasant Hill) offers a great selection of comics and role-playing books.

Boss Robot Hobby (2953 College Ave., Berkeley, 510- 841-1680) is where model makers, RC helicopter enthusiasts, and Domo-kun lovers rub elbows inside a tiny shop.

Comic Relief (2026 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-5002, ComicRelief.net) is the place to find all the pieces to complete your mint condition collection of Sandman books.

Dr. Comics and Mr. Games (4014 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-601-7800) offers a wide range of comic books to complement the selection of board and card games up front.

Endgame (921 Washington St., Oakland, 510-465-3637), for analog gamers, houses a magnificent collection of new and used games and offers space for numerous gamers to play upstairs.

Eudemonia (2154 University Ave., Berkeley, 510-883-0814) is the liveliest game shop in the East Bay, with geeky guys and gals packed wall-to-wall on weekends.

Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff (2980 Treat Blvd., Concord, 925-825-5410) is a clean, well-lighted place with a friendly staff and an extensive knowledge of the many comics that crop up each month.

Games of Berkeley (2151 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-540-7822) has its role players and Magic shufflers downstairs, plus all the Frisbee golf supplies you'll need to shoot 9 out by I-80.

GameStop/EB Games (multiple locations, GameStop.com) litter the Bay Area, and can always be found when you just have to have Soul Calibur 4 for Sony Playstation 3, or Soul Calibur 1 for Sega Dreamcast.

It's Your Move (4920 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-547-4386) is a cozy spot to find some new dice or a book of Mage spells.

Kimono My House (1424 62nd St., Emeryville, 510-654-4627) is an office park/Japanime temple offering imported figures, models, masks, and other collectible versions of massive robots and short-skirted schoolgirls.

Mr. Mopps' Children's Books & Gifts (1405 Martin Luther King Junior Way, Berkeley, 510-525-9633) is a Playmobile mecca that offers toys of all shapes and sizes.

Sweet Dreams (2921 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-8697) has toys both new and old, without prejudice against publisher, maker, or country of origin.

Toy Safari (1410 Park St., Alameda, 510-522-1723) is a real-life eBay packed with collectibles and toys alike, many twenty years old or more. 

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