Dressing like it’s 1999 at Paisley Vintage in downtown Berkeley

  • September 10, 2022

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Open Downtown Berkeley

Dressing like it’s 1999 is now cool, say owners of new vintage shop

Brothers Michael and Kevin Dong, outside their new vintage shop on Bancroft Way. Credit: Joanne Furio

The premise for a Progressive Insurance TV commercial is a life coach who helps prevent home buyers from becoming their parents. In terms of style, however, becoming your parents is now cool, part of a Y2K nostalgia that continues to rule in vintage. 

“A lot of people like to dress like their parents now,” said Kevin Dong, who opened Paisley Vintage with his brother, Michael, a year ago. “Anything 20 to 30 years old is resurfacing.” 

That means knitted sweaters with collars or crew necks in argyle or graphic prints ($25-$30) or mesh and lace tops ($14-$22). The store’s most popular items across the board: vintage T-shirts with graphic, nature or cartoon images ($18-$30). 

The brothers are 20-somethings who both trained at UCLA as engineers (Kevin in mechanical; Michael in biomedical) and live in Concord. During the pandemic, they got the idea of turning their hobby into a more permanent business. They had done vintage sales previously in Berkeley and thought that the city’s demographic, chock full of college shoppers, made it the perfect place for their first brick-and-mortar store. 

Their 800-square-foot storefront, steps from campus, also happens to be near two popular eateries that create foot traffic: Great China and U Cha bubble tea. Maybe that’s why business has been a lot better than the brothers expected. 

“A lot of the Cal students have been repeat buyers, which helps a lot,” Kevin said. The brothers don’t do a lot of social media, so word is spread the way their parents did it. “We get a lot of our customers by word of mouth,” Kevin said, “which is pretty awesome.”

Paisley Vintage, 2181 Bancroft Way (at Oxford Street) Berkeley. Phone: 510-529-4103. Hours: Monday-Saturday, noon-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-6:30 p.m. Connect via Instagram

In the spotlight Southside

Leader of YWCA’s Berkeley chapter leaves 3 months after taking job

Jennifer Radics-Johnson. Courtesy: YWCA of Berkeley/Oakland

The YWCA Berkeley/Oakland hired Jennifer Radics-Johnson as executive director in April. She left the organization after three months, saying that her departure was not the result of a bad fit, but bad timing. A job she had applied for before joining the Y came through, and it was closer to her children’s preschool. 

“I love the mission of the YWCA Berkeley/Oakland and in the short amount of time I was there, the way I view the world, as well as myself, have been transformed,” she said. “I will continue to support the YWCA and the great work that they do.”

Taking the helm of the Y’s leadership on Aug. 16 will be Freda Statom-Greene, who brings more than 20 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector and with organizations whose missions and goals are similar to those of the 133-year-old nonprofit.

“We look forward to Freda’s vision and passion to help us with this important work,” Marilyn Cleveland, the Y’s board president, said in a statement. 

The new executive director of the YWCA Berkeley/Oakland, Freda Statom-Greene. Courtesy: Freda Statom-Freene

Statom-Greene, who grew up in San Diego, came to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley in 1984, where she majored in interdisciplinary studies. “I just fell in love with the Bay Area,” she said, and Oakland, in particular, where she now lives. 

Most recently Statom-Green was director of strategic partnerships and development for Blueprint Schools Network, a national organization dedicated to educational equity, in charge of five regions across the country, including Oakland and Pittsburg, California. She previously served as regional executive director of the Jefferson Awards Foundation, which aims to develop the next generation of service leaders. She has a certificate in fundraising management from Indiana University Center of Philanthropy and served on the advisory boards of the Hidden Genius Project and the Black Female Project. She is an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. 

“The YWCA Berkeley/Oakland has an impressive track record of being laser focused on their mission of eliminating racism and empowering women,” Statom-Greene said. “I’m looking forward to working alongside the board of directors, the staff and building upon the legacy of my predecessors.”

As to her plans for the Y, she doesn’t have any – yet: “I’m still learning the landscape.”

YWCA Berkeley/Oakland, 2600 Bancroft Way (at Bowditch Street), Berkeley. Phone: 510-848-6370. Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Connect via Facebook and Instagram

Closed North Berkeley

Cose Belle, recently opened Shattuck Avenue women’s boutique, will become online only

Julia D’Alo, who grew up in her family’s East Bay restaurants, with her mother, Rosa, in Cose Belle. Credit: Joanne Furio
The latest sign in the window of Cose Belle announces its shift to online sales. Credit: Joanne Furio

Julia D’Alo had high hopes for the latest incarnation of her women’s clothing boutique, Cose Belle, when it opened on Shattuck Avenue on March 19, two doors down from her brothers’ restaurant, Agridolce. She’s operated various versions of the store in the Bay Area since 2004. 

In early August, window displays were removed and a handwritten sign appeared in the window, telling customers that the short-lived store will become an online business as of Nov. 1 and to follow D’Alo on Instagram

Cose Belle, 1746 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Connect via Instagram

Moving Southside

Pacific Center for Human Growth, historic LGBTQ center, to have its home razed

The Pacific Center for Human Growth has to leave the building it’s called home since 1978. Credit: Joanne Furio

“We’re definitely not closing,” said Lasara Firefox Allen, the executive director of the Pacific Center for Human Growth, the third-oldest LGBTQ community center in the U.S. and one of the largest, serving 630 people. The center, which has been operating mostly remotely since the pandemic, also operates the only sliding-scale mental health clinic serving the LGBTQ community in Alameda County. 

In a July email, Allen notified stakeholders that the two-story clapboard building the center has occupied since 1978 has been sold to Panoramic Interests, a developer of many Berkeley-based projects. Panoramic plans to raze the building and replace it with a five-story apartment building with 35 units, three of which would be reserved for very low-income renters, according to an application filed in August. The development would include 2,000 square feet of commercial space on its ground floor.

“Heartbreaking as it is to lose a location that has so much connectivity for folks, I think ultimately the move will benefit the center in many ways,” Allen said in a phone interview. “We may find a space that suits our needs better.”

The center conducted a survey on Aug. 1 and found that one of the main complaints was that the current location is not entirely accessible, though it does have a ramp. 

Allen estimates that the organization will probably have to move by next summer “at the soonest.” She said Panoramic Interests has been “a good citizen” and told the center it can stay from one to five years in its current building. The developer has also offered to rent the center a space in its new building, whenever that is completed. 

“We’re still in the discovery stage,” Allen said. One thing’s for sure: “We’re definitely going to stay within the city limits of Berkeley.” 

Pacific Center for Human Growth, 2712 Telegraph Ave. (at Derby Street). Phone: 510-548-8283. (Emails get faster responses.) Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Connect via Facebook and Instagram

Closed Southwest Berkeley

When Solar Car Wash reopens, solar-powered water-heating contraption will be replaced by rooftop solar panels

The Solar Car Wash on San Pablo Avenue has been razed to make way for a state-of-the-art version in 2023. Credit: Joanne Furio

When Solar Car Wash opened in 1974, its water was heated by solar power. Such technology has since become outdated. The 2434 San Pablo Ave. car wash closed in late November and has since been razed. The owners plan a new, state-of-the-art express car wash that will open in June 2023. 

“It’s going to be a modern, full-tunnel express car wash with 18 vacuum stations,” said Shel Givens, who is partners with Robert Zweben.

Plans for the new solar-powered car wash. Credit: Joanne Furio

The new facility will have a new name, Solar Express Car Wash, and will be outfitted with a solar array covering the entire roof of the car wash tunnel. 

Givens suggests that customers who miss the San Pablo location can visit Solar Car Wash on 1198 University Ave. at Curtis Street, which he and Zweben also own.

Solar Express Car Wash, 2434 San Pablo Ave. (at Channing Street), Berkeley. 

Moved Fourth Street

The former Wine.com warehouse on Fourth Street, empty since the fall. Credit: Joanne Furio

Last fall Wine.com pulled out of its 81,000-square-foot Berkeley warehouse and distribution operation after 14 years in that location. In a November announcement, the nation’s largest online wine seller, based in San Francisco, revealed it had opened a new “fulfillment center” in San Leandro, double the size of the Berkeley warehouse, to serve customers across the western U.S. 

During the pandemic, as wine sales surged nationwide, Wine.com reported $165 million in revenues for the fiscal year 2020, a 25% increase over 2019, the largest one-year gain in the company’s history, according to Wine.com’s website. For fiscal year 2021, the company announced $355 million in revenue, a 115% increase over the previous year. 

In Brief

Biz Buzz: East Bay Innovation Awards

  • Four Berkeley companies received East Bay Innovation Awards from the East Bay Economic Development Alliance on Aug. 4 at a ceremony held at the Fox Theater in Oakland:
    • Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), which provides solutions to mass homelessness, mass incarceration and community violence, won in the Community Impact category.
    • Biotech Partners, which provides biotech-based career technical training for 11th grade through community college to hundreds of students in three Bay Area counties, was the winner in the Education category. 
    • Squishy Robotics, which develops deployable robots with cameras and customizable sensors for use in disaster response, military operations, smart cities and package delivery, etc., won in Engineering & Design. 
    • Ambi Robotics, a creator of robotic systems that simplify the supply chain, was the Technology category winner. 

The winners were selected from 20 finalists and an initial pool of more than 200 submissions.

Berkeleyside City Hall reporter Nico Savidge contributed reporting to this story.

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