Best of the East Bay: Shop
These stores can help you treat yourself to something nice. Because you deserve it.
Set the tone of your abode with a few small touches.
Choose an Antique
Reader Pick: Home Accessories Store
Stop by the new Elsie Green House and Home showroom, or visit the popular online store, to peruse handpicked French farm tables, one-of-a-kind chairs restored with vintage linen, and more. 2954 Treat Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 323-5311, elsiegreen.com.
Reader Pick: Place to Buy Art
Choose a painting or two from the diverse gallery, or have your own masterpiece custom framed at Studio Seven Arts. 400 Main St., Pleasanton, (925) 846-4322, studiosevenarts.com.
Stock your shelves
Reader Pick: Indie Bookstore
Browse Rakestraw Books for a coffee-table book to display, or pick up a stack of chewy reads to savor on a rainy day. 550 Hartz Ave., Danville, (925) 837-7337, rakestrawbooks.com.
Reader Pick: Plant Nursery
Bring the garden to life with blooms from Orchard Nursery. (For recommendations on what’s easiest to grow, we asked manager Peter Tourtellotte. See below.) 4010 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-4474, orchardnursery.com.
"What’s easiest to grow?"
- Mexican Bush Sage “They are long blooming, sun loving.”
- Trailing Lantana “Season: from spring into the fall.”
- Tapien Blue-Violet Verbena “It just blooms its head off.”
- Terra Cotta Yellow “Gives you some height in the garden.”
- Belleza Dark Pink Gaura “Lots of color on wispy, flowing effect of flowers.”
- Silver Lace Society Garlic “It gives you the grassy effect but with a flower.”
You never know what you’ll find at this hidden spot.
Editor Pick: Cute Shop
Step into Wish Walnut Creek, and you’re likely to get a cheerful greeting from Susie Shirokow or Sasha Varni, the mother-daughter duo who own the whimsical boutique on Boulevard Circle.
Inside, you’ll find rooms filled with everything from handmade burlap banners and rustic knickknacks to jewelry and eco-friendly cleaning products. The children’s clothing section offers punny baby onesies and supersoft outfits, plus booties and hats to match. Outside, gardening decor shares a charming space with Just Be Yoga.
Shirokow and Varni sometimes host events, too. Stop by, and you might even get to sip a little bubbly as you browse. 2333 Boulevard Cir., Walnut Creek, (925) 322-7109, facebook.com/wishwalnutcreek.
Big-city fashion hits the burbs.
Reader Pick: Bridal Boutique
For a recently engaged woman, trying on that first dress can be intimidating. But at Kinsley James Couture Bridal, brides-to-be need not worry.
Not sure what style you’re going for? The approachable saleswomen—many of whom are in their twenties and thirties—will give you advice based on your taste and body type, or pull different silhouettes from the rack. Don’t know what kind of veil or jewelry to pair with your gown? They’ll let you try on accessories until you achieve a look you love.
The chic, airy boutique, co-owned by event planners Dawn Kinsley and Amber James, opened less than a year ago. It has already become a major player in the East Bay bridal scene. 1623 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 330-9228, kinsleyjames.com.
Reader Pick: Candy Store
Powell’s Sweet Shoppe
3591 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 299-9866, powellsss.com
The Hatchet Man
This downtown business owner has an unusual inventory.
Editor Pick: Hatchet Expert
Hatchets in downtown Walnut Creek? Yes, thanks to Grant Petersen, owner of Rivendell Bike Book and Hatchet.
Petersen describes himself as “a 1954 model” and is the kind of man who likes to make things the old-fashioned way: with his hands. This is evident in his shop, from the homemade clothing racks to the wall hatchet display he has crafted from wood and rope.
“Everybody likes tools,” he says emphatically, “and a hatchet is the most beautiful tool out there.”
An outdoors enthusiast, Petersen founded Rivendell Bicycle Works in 1994, in a backstreet workshop on North Main Street in Walnut Creek, to support his very expensive love for performance road and mountain bikes. The shop quickly became a destination for bikers who liked his lugged steel frames and accessories, but Petersen wanted to be more visible to locals. So last October, he opened Rivendell Bike Book and Hatchet, a downtown shop with a nostalgic feel, where he showcases bikes, classic books, and yes, hatchets.
It’s that last item for which he has drawn the most attention from passersby, whom he educates about the utility and importance of the hatchet, as well as how to use one safely. He also hosts children’s story time and classes, hoping to get young people interested in the time-honored traditions that kept him busy while he was growing up exploring Lafayette.
Some nights, by chance, locals mosey from the downtown restaurant scene into the shop. Many admit to having never used a hatchet. Petersen often encourages them to give it a try.
“You should see the way women giggle,” he says. “There’s no other feeling quite like dividing a piece of wood.”
Rivendell Bike Book and Hatchet, 1601 N. Main St., Walnut Creek, (925) 933-7304; Rivendell Bicycle Works, 2040 N. Main St., Ste. 19, Walnut Creek, (925) 933-7304; rivbike.com.
My East Bay
“There’s not a bad place around,” he says, “but I love the salads at Tulio’s.”
Around Shell Ridge, near his home.
The Briones-Acalanes ridge and anywhere he can bring his dog.
Two workout trends go head-to-head.
Reader Pick: CrossFit Class
Concept: High-intensity interval training with weight lifting, calisthenics, and strongman exercises.
People: Bros, businessmen, buff women, and the occasional average Joe.
Duds: Fluorescent Nikes, Converse high-tops, and anything that shows off sculpted guns.
Gear: Barbell weights, jump ropes, and the cold, hard floor. Exercises are written on the wall and timed with a clock.
Trainers: Scott Lipp and Dustin Dockery (right, with co-owner Mike Banducci) give one-on-one attention and encouragement.
Vibe: Lots of high fives and friendly competition, plus an emphasis on pushing personal limits.
Perks: Peer support, programs for child athletes, and nutrition counseling services. 11040 Bollinger Canyon Rd., Ste. D, San Ramon, bollingercrossfit.com.
Reader Pick: New Fitness Trend
Concept: Upbeat and inspiring classes that combine cardio and core work.
People: Dancers, fitness newbies, and yogilates types, plus fitness pros looking to try something new.
Duds: Yoga pants, spandex tanks, and special nonskid NextBarre socks.
Gear: Ballet barres, free weights, fitness balls, exercise bands, and foam blocks to balance on.
Trainers: Diana Pecci (left), founder of the NextBarre method, is personable and encouraging. While instructing, she walks around, nudging people into correct form.
Vibe: Girl power to the max. Pecci controls the mood with catchy dance music.
Perks: A more intense cardio class is also offered. 3471 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-5400, nextbarre.com.
Multiple locations, mikesbikes.com.
Lafayette Car Wash
3319 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 283-1190, lafayettecarwash.com.
CoWorking Space/Free Wi-Fi
1701 N. California Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 482-8300, laptoplounge.biz.
2093 Rose St., Berkeley, (510) 525-2226, computercourage.com.
3151 Crow Canyon Pl., Ste. 1, San Ramon, (925) 806-0647, shampooches.us.
2345 Boulevard Cir., Walnut Creek, (925) 934-6877, florali.com.
2857 Chapman St., Oakland, (510) 261-3585, sumalandscaping.com.
At Renaissance ClubSport, renaissanceclubsport.com.
425 Hartz Ave., Danville, (925) 820-8222, mollyspup.com.
Diablo Rock Gym
1220 Diamond Way, Ste. 140, Concord, (925) 602-1000, touchstoneclimbing.com.
Website Design Service
2093 Rose St., Berkeley, (510) 525-2226, computercourage.com.
2926 Domingo Ave., Berkeley, (510) 666-0565; 3401 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 299-9070, winethieves.com.
The Yoga Fusion
2217 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon, (925) 705-1228, theyogafusion.com.