Find out which stores have opened, closed or moved and what’s new in Berkeley’s small-business communities. If you have Berkeley business updates to share, send an email to

Moved South Berkeley

After 47 years, Buggy Bank withdraws from its Shattuck Avenue lot and refashions itself as a concierge auto-selling service

Man stands leaning on car
Jerry Griggs at Buggy Bank, which is closing its Shattuck Avenue lot after 47 years. Courtesy: Buggy Bank

“We want our community to know we’re not giving up on us or them,” said Jerry Griggs, the longtime manager at Buggy Bank, an auto consignment service that has been helping folks sell their used cars since 1976. 

Buggy Bank’s lot has been sold to make way for a five-story building with 67 market-rate apartments and 8,500 square feet of retail.

Right now a handful of cars remain on the lot, which will be cleared by Sept. 15 as the company transitions to sell cars as a “safer, more convenient and automated full concierge service,” according to its website.

Griggs compared the new process to a real estate agent trying to sell a house. “You don’t bring your house to people, you give the realtor the key,” he said. “It’s like that but with a car.”

Buggy Bank’s new business model will remain the same in one key way: its fee. Like a consignment, it will charge sellers “no more than $1,000, no less than $575,” Griggs said. Pricing is based on the seller’s situation and the car itself. “We talk to people and adjust prices to meet their needs.”

The main differences have to do with the absence of a lot. Buggy Bank will now come to your door to evaluate the vehicle and negotiate a selling price.

Potential buyers will no longer be able to take your car out for a spin on their own — now they will be accompanied by someone from Buggy Bank. Timed contracts are also a thing of the past. Sellers can continue to use their car while they’re trying to sell it, while Buggy Bank manages and schedules test drives and marketing until the car is sold, which they did before. 

Being freed of a physical lot, which held up to 75 cars, has some benefits for the service itself: It’s not restricted to a location, a number of cars or a demographic of local buyers. 

“We can actually branch out and be in other areas,” Griggs said. “Probably as far as Sacramento and … who knows? Maybe into the Central Valley.”

Buggy Bank, 2821 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Phone: 415-374-4848. Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

Moving South Berkeley

In the nick of time, 46-year-old Walsh Brothers auto repair shop will drive into a new garage in October

Exterior of Walsh Brothers garage
Walsh Brothers has been in this 6,000-square-foot garage since 1977. Credit: Joanne Furio

Last month things were looking pretty grim for Louise O’Connor, when Berkeleyside reported that she had lost her lease and might have to close the Volvo repair shop her late husband had founded in 1977. That news came after a series of personal setbacks that included her house catching fire in April, leaving it uninhabitable.

Albany Subaru, the new owners of her 6,000-square-foot garage, had given O’Connor extensions on her lease as she searched for a new Berkeley location. Though she was inundated with calls from concerned customers after the Berkeleyside article appeared on Aug. 18, no one was able to help her find a new home for her business, which employs three mechanics. 

In the ensuing weeks, she found one herself.

Walsh Brothers will be moving to 2051 Ashby Ave. (off Shattuck Avenue), the former home of S.O.S. Auto Service, sometime in October. O’Connor said her new landlord was willing to work with her and brought the rent down to an affordable rate. 

“They’re giving us a good deal,” she said. “It’s a nice space. I’m very thrilled.”

The new building, about 2.5 miles from the current garage, is about 2,000 square feet larger. So customers will be able to have their cars indoors as they await repair, rather than parking them on the street, which is required at the Harrison Street location. 

“We’re excited,” said O’Connor. “Miracles do happen.”

Walsh Brothers, 1060 Harrison St., Berkeley. Phone: 510-525-3300. Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Connect via Facebook.

In the Spotlight Gilman District

Dorset Finds, a steampunk delight, expands on Tenth Street

Man posing in Dorset Tool shirt with baseball hat in cluttered shop with GARAGE sign
Justin Dorset at his Tenth Street store, which recently expanded. Credit: Joanne Furio

Though you can’t tell from the curb, Dorset Finds recently expanded its 900-square-foot store by 300 square feet. The expansion grew out of the back of the store. 

Owner Justin Dorset opened the Berkeley location after moving here in 2016

The store specializes in vintage finds “at the intersection of the Victorian and Industrial” from the 1880s to 1940s. (Think: steampunk or the original Restoration Hardware’s offerings.) 

Chairs and lamps and such
Some of the industrial offerings at the shop, which has a worldwide reach. Credit: Joanne Furio

Dorset’s lineup includes factory furniture, industrial lighting and old signs ($50-$5,000), chairs like a quartet from Toledo Metal Furniture Company ($1,400) and curiosities, such as what Dorset calls “a ridiculously oversized tailor shears” from 1859 ($295). 

Eighty percent to 90% of Dorset’s business comes from internet customers from around the world, but he still tries to lure Berkeley customers with a sandwich board advertising “Industrial Antiques” that’s placed near the Gilman Street Whole Foods. 

Dorset Finds, 1201 Tenth St., Berkeley. Phone: 646-460-2810. Hours: Saturday, noon-5 p.m. and Monday-Friday by appointment. Connect via Instagram

Opening West Berkeley

Mini dealership to roll into Berkeley soon

Exterior of dealership with two mini coopers
The site of the upcoming Mini Cooper showroom on the Weatherford BMW campus. Credit: Joanne Furio

Berkeley Mini Cooper owners will no longer have to travel to San Francisco, Corte Madera or Concord for their regular maintenance or repairs. Weatherford BMW is opening a Mini dealership the week of Sept. 11 in an adjacent showroom on the same campus as its BMW facility.

The German automaker has owned Mini, formerly a British brand, since 1996. 

The new dealership’s website and social media are expected to rev up shortly. 

Mini of Berkeley, 735 Ashby Ave. (off Bay Street). Phone: 888-883-6464.

Joanne Furio is a longtime journalist and writer of creative nonfiction. Originally from New York, she has been a staff writer, an editor and a freelance magazine writer. More recently, she was a contributing...