Editor’s note: Berkeleyside is reviving its regular Berkeley local business column, Shop Talk, which we suspended at the start of the pandemic. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleyside reader who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, send us an email with the details at editors@berkeleyside.com. Read previous Shop Talk columns. And catch up with all food business news with our Nosh coverage.

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The Sneaker Shop

The Sneaker Shop. Credit: Brandy Collins

A new store on Telegraph Avenue, just one block south of the UC Berkeley campus, will buy, sell and trade collectible vintage footwear and other apparel. All the sneakers for sale in the store are plastic-wrapped so that they won’t be scuffed or dirtied should customers touch them. 

The Sneaker Shop has moved into a space previously occupied by Brandy Melville, a European clothing store that closed in 2020. The Sneaker Shop carries a range of sneakers priced anywhere from $125 to $2,000. 

Co-founders Anthony DeCarlo and Joseph Duran gained popularity selling high-end sneakers through Instagram — Decarlo through his South Bay Gems account and Duran via Sad Rockstar. They met through Neyborly, a commercial real estate company that finds short- and long-term space for small businesses, and brought three other Bay Area online clothing and sneaker vendors together at the Telegraph storefront: Joog Life Co, Sago xStudio and Villanz Vintage.

“We wanted to bring a new type of flavor to the street,” said DeCarlo. “We understand that Berkeley does have vintage [shops] but we noticed that there was something missing and we wanted to bring some hype gear to give the urban authentic feel.”  

The Sneaker Shop celebrated its grand opening on Sept. 11, featuring exclusive UC Berkeley athletic apparel sold by Sago.

The shop will also help customers verify their sneakers’ authenticity. Patrons can bring in a pair of crispy off-white Nike Dunks and find out if they’re real.  

Still committed to its online roots, the store updates its Instagram account daily to let customers know about new items.

The Sneaker Shop, 2305 Telegraph Ave. Hours: Monday-Sunday, noon-7 p.m. Connect on Instagram.

Golden Salon

Golden Salon. Credit: Brandy Collins

A new salon in Berkeley’s Northbrae neighborhood is putting a premium on environmental wellness. 

Stylists Rose Bouvier and Rachel Hart launched Golden Salon this June with the aim, they said, of making the shop “95% plastic free.” Many of the hair care and styling products have glass, steel, bamboo or cardboard containers. Customers can get their used glass containers (which have plastic tops) refilled at the shop, or else recycle the glass. 

“In the beauty industry, we are so staunchly saturated” by plastics, said Bouvier, explaining that hair care and styling products are often sold in plastic containers. “I want to make a righteous living, and I didn’t want to create more waste.” 

Bouvier has been a hair stylist since her days at Berkeley High in the 1990s. The occupation has run in the family. On the wall she displays a photo of her grandfather, who was also a barber in Berkeley.  

The Golden Salon specializes in hair textures from 1a (thin) to 3a (loose curls)

Golden Salon, 2003 Hopkins Street (at El Dorado Avenue). Phone: 341-766-5750. Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 

Diffusion Studios

Mark Avilez and Derek Cuenca outside Diffusion Studios. Credit: Brandy Collins

Diffusion Studios, a store that’s part gallery, part used clothing shop, opened in September less than half a block from the Cal campus on Telegraph Avenue, in a space formerly occupied by another used clothing shop known as The Vintage.  

“It almost feels like a gallery as you walk in,” said Mark Avilez, who opened Diffusion Studios along with Derek Cuenca

Avilez and Cuenca have brought together over 10 featured vendors offering curated secondhand items, from graphic T-shirts to graffiti art. Each item in the shop is sourced individually by the vendors and none of the items are donated, Cuenca said.  

Diffusion is a long-term pop-up shop with plans to stay in the location for at least one year. In mid-October, Diffusion plans to start accepting trade-ins from customers. 

Diffusion Studios, 2315 Telegraph Ave. Hours: Tuesday- Saturday, noon -7 p.m.; Sundays, noon-6 p.m.

Art Underground Tattoo

Tattoo artist Ryan Wagner (Rhino) opened Art Underground last April near the UC Berkeley campus. Underground artists specialize in portrait realism and lettering in their work.

The cozy space offers comfortable chairs and Dolby Atmos surround sound so patrons can watch movies while they get inked, Wagner said.

“I have a strong drive within me that pushes me to be the best tattooer in the area,” Wagner said. “Not only do I push my art to be the best it can, I also pride myself on doing good business.” 

The proprietors plan to offer merchandise soon. 

Art Underground Tattoo, 2466 Bancroft Way (at Telegraph Avenue), Phone: 510-369-9202. Hours: Monday-Sunday, noon-7 p.m., by appointment only.

Opening soon

Bank of America

Bank of America plans to launch a new branch at 3001 Telegraph Ave. by the end of the year. 

Three of the bank’s four Berkeley locations have been temporarily shuttered during the pandemic for reasons related to social distancing and staffing, and only the downtown branch, at 2151 Shattuck Ave., is currently open. (That’s the location that temporarily moved across the street from its former spot, which is being developed into a hotel that will house a redesigned branch.) 

For now, Bank of America customers in Berkeley, Emeryville and north Oakland are being directed to the 2151 Shattuck branch when they need services beyond what’s offered by an ATM. A Bank of America spokesperson said no reopening dates have yet been set for Berkeley’s branches at 1536 Shattuck Ave., 2347 Telegraph Ave. and 2546 San Pablo Ave. 

The storefront where the new Bank of America will open — at the southeast corner of Telegraph and Ashby — was formerly occupied by a controversial Starbucks that closed at the end of 2018. Neighbors had waged a failed campaign in 2013 and 2014 to prevent the Starbucks from opening because they thought it would hurt business at nearby independent coffee shop Mokka, which closed in 2016. 

Bank of America, 3001 Telegraph Ave. (at Ashby) 



Eudemonia. Credit: Pamela Turntine

Fans of fantastical card games are still grieving Eudemonia, which closed its doors after 18 years on April 30.

The popular tabletop card store had been a refuge for Berkeley gamers of all ages, who found the nondescript building on University Avenue a haven for both competitive and casual games like Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons and — most notably — Magic: The Gathering.

The store was one of the nation’s top spots for hosting competitive events of the popular collectible game, created in 1993, which Eudemonia owner Dean Kao described as “like chess and bridge with a fantasy theme.”

Luther Miller, 50, of Berkeley, started going to the store eight years ago. He and his teenage son, now a junior at Berkeley High School, both learned how to play the game at Eudemonia.

“Before the pandemic, he spent all of his time there,” Miller said. “His whole social life was at that store.”

Owner Dean Kao didn’t blame the closure on the pandemic; he just said it was time to go.

It was in the spirit of “third place” theory — coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg to describe the third place people need besides home and work — that Kao built Eudemonia.   

“I designed Eudemonia to be a third place for gamers,” he said.

Eudemonia, 2154 University Ave. (at Walnut Street).

Scandinavian Designs

Employees have confirmed that the home decor retailer closed its downtown Berkeley location on Sunday, Sept. 19. Scandinavian Designs, best known for its simplistic home furniture, also has a location in Concord and launched a new store in San Rafael in June.    

Scandinavian Designs, 2101 Kala Bagai Way (at Addison Street). Phone: 510-848-8250. 

Berkeley Stereo

Berkeley Stereo — opened in 2015 in Northwest Berkeley and known as the go-to spot for refurbished high-end stereo equipment in the city — is now closed, according to the store’s website. 

Berkeley Stereo, 1621 San Pablo Ave. (at Cedar Street). 

Berkeleyside Editor-in-Chief Pamela Turntine and Managing Editor Zac Farber contributed reporting to this story.

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Brandy Collins is a freelance writer and public services advocate, born and raised in the Bay Area. She is a 2019-20 cohort graduate from the Maynard Institute for Journalism, a correspondent for Oakland...