News about great shops in your neighborhood

News about great shops in your neighborhood

The Sweet Taste of Distinction

Want to treat your feet? Try Walnut Creek’s Footcandy, a high-end shoe store for women featuring designers such as Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Giuseppe Zanotti, and Christian Louboutin. Opened in June 2005, the store’s interior mimics a museum, with each pair of shoes highlighted in its own gold-painted cube. Footcandy’s main aim is exclusivity: Owners Teresa Vella and Mark Karpenko order only one run of each style they carry, so once that size seven pair of Jimmy Choo’s “Kitten” is gone, it’s gone. In addition to shoes, Footcandy stocks designer handbags, belts, sunglasses, a selection of men’s shoes, and home items.

“We want to offer the exclusivity of the European designers,” says Trisha Holek, store manager. “We like to carry unique, fun, innovative styles.”

What sets the store apart, however, is its particular interest in the comfort of the men who find themselves there: While the women shop, men can relax in a lounge dedicated to their comfort; amenities include a cocktail area, sofas, and plasma TV, and a desk with computer/Internet access.

Footcandy, 1365 North Main Street, Walnut Creek, (925) 937-3668;

Chinese Treasures

Walk into Eastern Beauty on Walnut Creek’s Main Street and be prepared to be saturated in color: The store’s lime-green walls set off its selection of tradition-ally-styled Chinese silk clothing in shades of emerald, pink, tangerine, and red. “We carry more than 20 different variations of silk fabric items,” says manager Karissa Obeso-Govan. “The style is traditional Chinese with a Western flair.”

The store fulfills owner Annie Shaw’s long-held dream. Originally from Taiwan, Shaw had a store there years ago, and wanted to bring clothing and accessories with Chinese style to Walnut Creek. Launched in March 2005, Eastern Beauty’s stock is made in Shanghai specifically for the store, and includes not only mandarin-collared jackets and dresses but also shoes, hand-embroidered and hand-beaded bags, and home products like water fountains, redwood furniture, and wall hangings. Try Eastern Beauty for a whole new ensemble or for that one piece that will add extra punch to your wardrobe.

Eastern Beauty, 1367 North Main Street, Walnut Creek, (925) 939-1188.

The August Aesthetic

Some say the line be-tween art and fashion has always been blurry. Louesa Roebuck and Erin Dracos Scott, owners of Rockridge lifestyle store August (which opened this past year in the same month), couldn’t agree more. In addition to offering both men’s and women’s organic, or fair-trade products, including premium denim jeans by Loomstate, Habitual, Acne, and Nudie, ceramics by local artist Sherry Olsen, cashmere sweaters, baby clothes, and unique soaps, August serves as an art gallery for local talent, with shows that rotate every two months.

The combination doesn’t strike Roebuck and Scott as quirky, but natural, particularly with the California College of Arts and Crafts nearby.

“We both love living in the East Bay and want to stay connected [to our community],” Scott says.

The two women envisioned a place where their passion for art and fine quality design could intersect with environmentally friendly products. They’ve used natural and recycled materials such as rock, reclaimed wood for shelving, reclaimed sprinkler pipes for clothing rods, and tall sculptures throughout the store to create what Scott calls “a modern aesthetic grounded in natural elements.” Accessibility is key: Both women want August to have a welcoming, salon atmosphere.

“We want people to come and hang out, take some time and enjoy the space with us,” Scott says.

August, 5410 College Avenue, Oakland, (510) 652-2711.

Eclectic Ecclesiastique

Manager Ree Reliford brings extensive experience to her work at Ecclesiastique, the year-old women’s clothing boutique on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. Her work as a stylist on photo shoots, videos, and in the fashion, modeling, and publishing industries give her perspective as she helps clients find clothes that add punch to their wardrobes.

“A lot of women come in and are unsure about what kind of colors or styles look good on them,” she says. “But whether our clients are in their 20s or their 70s, we help them find something they can take away and enjoy.”

The flexibility of Ecclesiastique’s fashion shows up when, for example, a mother-daughter pair comes in, Reliford says. “They’ll both fall in love with the same item–one of our coats, say–but put it to use according to their individual style.”

In addition to its fashion-forward offerings, which include cashmere and mohair sweaters, trousers and tops, handbags, shoes, and jewelry which Ecclesiastique buyers glean from the collections of up-and-coming designers, the shop also offers makeovers, wardrobe and color consultations, and alteration services.

“We want to bring a hip yet classic look to Piedmont,” Reliford says.

Ecclesiastique, 4183 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, (510) 450-0422.

Faces of the East Bay

In the Philanthropic Swim

In the Philanthropic Swim

Rockridge residents John Bliss and Kim Thompson may live far removed the gritty flats of East and West Oakland. But this philanthropic couple see themselves as one with the citizens of Oakland, particularly those who are struggling financially, and they’re leading a campaign to get their “financially blessed” peers to invest in the community like they have by funding city programs to teach kids how to swim.