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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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, 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, 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, offers seven "Journey" packages; they're pricey but luxurious.

Down at Lulu's (6603 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-601-0694, 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, 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, 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, offers massages by students for $35.

Oh! My Nappy Hair (311 19th St., Oakland, 510-839-3877, 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, 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, offers absolute bliss for $15 an hour.

Polish on Piedmont (4319 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-601-0909, 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, 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, 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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