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.

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Rabat Shoes (1825 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-549-9195, 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, offers tests by (supervised) eye-docs-in-training, plus cheap glasses and chic frames.

Upper Playground (2509 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510- 649-0740, 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, has pioneered the comfort shoe revolution since 1978, with labels including Josef Seibel, Stonefly, Wolky, and Pikolinos.


Bay Street (5616 Bay St., Emeryville, 510-655-4002, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.


The Bone Room (1569 Solano Ave., Berkeley, 510-526-5252, 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, 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, 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,, 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,, 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, manages to be both inviting and underground, and its extremely talented artists are heavily inked tough guys with hearts of gold. 


1-2-3-4 Go! Records (423 40th St., Oakland, 510-985-0325, 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, 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, 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, features new and vintage acoustic and electric guitars and amps, plus a hefty complement of supplies, including a decent array of electronics.


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