Drug Store from Yore
Walk into Kiehl’s Since 1851 and you’ll feel as if you’ve entered an old-fashioned apothecary with family photos dotting the walls and a gleaming burgundy and chrome Harley settled into a retirement pose.
This latest Fourth Street addition is a New York transplant offering pharmaceutical, herbal, and medicinal know-how with cosmetic grace. But Kiehl’s is not the new, trendy kid on the block. It’s a 150-year-old company offering high-quality skin, hair, and body care products made from natural ingredients and minimal preservatives. Signature products include Cryste Marine face cream—which was accepted into the Smithsonian’s permanent Public Health and Pharmacy collection—Creme de Corps body lotion, Lip Balm #1, and Amino Acid Shampoo. The liquid body cleanser comes in an array of scents that are fresh and vibrant, but never cloying, such as cucumber, coriander, lavender, orange spice, and vanilla.
If you haven’t heard of Kiehl’s, it’s because they don’t advertise—part of its no-frills philosophy which promotes growth by word-of-mouth and product sampling, and offers a money-back guarantee and simple packaging. Men are equally at home as women in this store, which offers products designed just for them and an overall gender-neutral aesthetic. And babies can stare at the freshly minted pin-ups of other li’l babes taken by the friendly and knowledgeable staff.
“ I find it so right for us to be in Berkeley which is very community-oriented,” says store manager Maria Shalita, who was part of the original team to open Kiehl’s San Francisco store, its second location in 150 years. Shalita says that Kiehl’s has been practicing active generosity for decades and gives all of the profits from the sale of its grapefruit hand and body cleanser to benefit Youth AIDS. The Berkeley store hosts free community events, such as the upcoming lecture from a nutritionist focusing on good health and good skin care, held March 21, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Kiehl’s Since 1851, 1848 Fourth Street, Berkeley, (510) 548-0130; www.kiehls.com.
Longtime East Bay resident and Parsons School of Design graduate Camille Mason opened Magnet last June on the 2500 block of San Pablo—Berkeley’s new “left bank”—in an effort to address what she saw as a need for interesting clothing options this side of the Bay.
“ I got tired of complaining about there not being enough stores offering pieces from up-and-coming small designers,” Mason says. “So I decided to open my own.”
Mason’s aesthetic focus is on casual basics, mixing denim and quality T-shirts with striking, unique pieces. She highlights work from New York, Los Angeles, and local designers such as Corey Lynn Calter, Kasil, James, and Talla. (Mason’s current favorite item is a brown silk shirtdress by New York–based Bilingual.) Mason also strives to offer clothing at various price points, so that clients can find everything from a $20 T-shirt to a $300 dress.
“ I love being in this neighborhood and offering local women an eclectic mix of styles,” she says.
Magnet, 2508 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, (510) 848-1966; www.magnetboutique.com.
Music to Cheer the Heart
Musician Phil Robbins always wanted his own music store, so when he opened A Cheerfull Noyse, a full-service music shop, this past November on Solano, he fulfilled a long-held dream. A Cheerfull Noyse carries a range of instruments including hard-to-find custom-made didgeridoos, harpsichords, and recorders, among other items—and sheet music, as well as an expansive children’s section, with rhythm instruments, pint-sized drums, bells, xylophones, kazoos, and harmonicas. Robbins also offers space to local music teachers to provide lessons to adults and children in the community.
A Florida native, Robbins started playing the French horn in local symphonies at the age of 14 and eventually settled on the recorder. The store specializes in his own particular loves—classical, folk, and Early Music (hence the archaic spelling of the shop’s name)—but Robbins is committed to providing patrons with the resources to make their own music, whether it’s jazz or pop or other genres. East Bay music aficionados can also find CDs of their favorite local artists at the store.
A Cheerfull Noyse, 1228 Solano Avenue, Albany, (510) 524-0411; www.acheerfullnoyse.com.
Real Retail Therapy
What do you get when you cross goddess consciousness and community-building with retail? Outback in the Temple of Venus, which opened in its latest incarnation in Emeryville this past December. The creation of Devi, CEO (chief executive oracle), Outback offers unique clothing at discount prices—Weston Wear, URU, Johnny Was, and CutLoose—home wares, gifts, and spiritual resources such as sitting pillows, altar tables, and statuary. Devi started the Outback concept in 1979, when she began designing fabric and clothing that she sold via mail order. Since then, the Outback and Devi labels have been sold in over 3,000 stores around the world and in ten Outback stores.
It’s not just the diversity of products that sets Outback apart, but the community that is created in the store environs. In the store’s “living room” clients relax, drink tea, trade ideas, and play: On one afternoon a spontaneous drum circle came together.
“It’s retail therapy at its purest form,” Devi says, “between the networking, conversation, and compassion that happens in the dressing room, and the self-esteem boost that happens when you’re dressed comfortably and BU2FULL—as it says on our dressing room mirror.”
Outback in the Temple of Venus, 5959 Shellmound Avenue, Emeryville, (510) 595-1203; www.devijuice.com.