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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, Berkeley, 510-644-1992) 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 Antiques (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.
African Fashions Gifts & Craft Center (2229 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-2821) is crammed full of treasures from all over the African continent, from giant handwoven grain baskets from Nigeria to wood serving pieces adorned with painted bone from Kenya to handwoven mudcloth from Mali.
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.
La Lavande (12 Broadway Lane, Walnut Creek, 925-930-6255) is filled with heavenly French soap direct from Provence.
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.
Space Happy (1354 Park St., Alameda), a much-needed new addition to Alameda's Park Street, offers an assortment of quirky, unique gifts, cards, and home goods that will appeal to your inner child.
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.
Seven Days - February 24, 5:52 PM
Culture Spy - February 23, 2:42 PM
What the Fork - February 23, 2:12 PM
Seven Days - February 21, 3:30 PM
Culture Spy - February 19, 1:45 PM