Best of the East Bay 2016: Shops
An eco-minded fabric shop; handblown glassware in Berkeley.
Car Wash: Lafayette Car Wash and Detail Center
Perennial Winner When the California drought forced residents to cut water use, Lafayette Car Wash and Detail Center offered to host community fund-raisers. The car wash, which recycles more than 60 percent of its water, never turns down fundraising requests. “The answer is always yes,” says co-owner Blake Wellen, whose father opened the car wash in 1990. 3319 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 283-1190, lafayettecarwash.com. —Rachelle Cihonski
Mechanic: Walnut Creek Automotive
Old Kid, New Block Walnut Creek Automotive’s father-son team, William and Jeff Boaman, has more than 90 years of combined experience, so you can rest assured your car is in capable hands. The shop moved from its longtime Walnut Creek location to Pleasant Hill in March. “A lot of our customers say Walnut Creek is so congested that this new location is easier to get to,” says Jeff. 1855 Contra Costa Blvd., Pleasant Hill, (925) 849-6440, wcauto.mechanicnet.com. —R.C.
Home Decor Store: Misto Lino
East Bay Europhiles love this shop’s upscale bedding, kitchen items, and home accessories. Misto Lino’s brand manager has been taking trips to Italy to build relationships with artisans and vendors, so her customers can custom order goods straight from the Old Country. 704 Sycamore Valley Rd. W., Danville, (925) 837-6575; 3585 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-6565, mistolino.com. —Peter Crooks
Plant Nursery: Orchard Nursery and Florist
Year after year, Diablo readers support this independently owned nursery in Lafayette, which stocks everything from houseplants to drought-tolerant natives. Orchard also offers know-how: Its expert staff can provide tips on proper mulching and lawn replacement alternatives, which can significantly reduce a homeowner’s water bill. 4010 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-4474, orchardnursery.com. —Lou Fancher
Indie Bookstore: Rakestraw Books
Danville’s Rakestraw Books has earned high praise from such bibliophiles as local author Michael Chabon, who says Rakestraw is “a gem” and that owner Michael Barnard may be “the best bookseller in the Bay Area.” Look for innovative programming: summer day camp for adults (August 11) and a fall lineup of authors likely to include Jodi Picoult; Cal Peternell, with his second cookbook; and Diana Nyad. 3 Railroad Ave., Danville, (925) 837-7337, rakestrawbooks.com. —L.F.
Eyeglasses Shop: Broadway Eyeworks Optometry
Walnut Creek’s Broadway Eyeworks has a huge selection of eyeglasses, including Kate Spade, Tory Burch, and Chanel. I fell for a pair of Pradas. “Oh, you got new glasses,” my friends said, always in a tone that was more matter of fact than complimentary. Finally, a friend fessed up: “Those glasses are too much for your face.” On my next visit, I told my eye doctor I didn’t love my new glasses, thinking she would commiserate with me. Instead, she immediately started looking for new frames. Broadway Eyeworks let me exchange the Pradas, and now I wear a pair of Oliver Peoples that I—and my friends—adore. 1389 N. Broadway, Walnut Creek, (925) 930-7484, broadwayeyeworksoptometry.com. —Susan Safipour
Bike Shop: Livermore Cyclery
Editor Pick Steve Howard was 21 when he opened his first cycling shop in Livermore. He had been working at a bike shop, when a space down the street opened up. “There was an opportunity to do it better,” says Howard, “but I wasn’t thinking 40 years out.” Now, Livermore Cyclery has locations in Alamo and Dublin. Four generations of the family have worked in the stores—from Howard’s parents, who invested in the business and worked on weekends, to his five-year-old granddaughter, who helps around the shop. 180 Alamo Plaza, Alamo, (925) 718-8100; 7214 San Ramon Rd., Dublin, (925) 829-4310; 2752 First St., Livermore, (925) 455-8090, livermorecyclery.com. —R.C.
Design Your Own Glassware: Glassybaby
Editor Pick Glassybaby brought gorgeous glass to Berkeley in October. At this hot shop and retail studio, you can purchase an already-made candle votive or drinking glass, or design your own. Professional blowers handcraft creations while you watch in awe. 745 Heinz St., Berkeley, (510) 725-4832, glassybaby.com. —R.C.
Succulent Shop: Succiko
Editor Pick With a variety of succulents, air plants, and indoor houseplants, Castro Valley’s Succiko is a destination for drought-tolerant-greenery aficionados. But plants aren’t the only offerings: Succiko features a “composition lab,” where guests create plant designs and get care advice. 19577 Center St., Castro Valley, (650) 892-3042, succiko.com.—Katie Henry
Landscaper: Suma Landscaping
Reader’s Quote “Suma has been our landscaper for more than 12 years. We love their focus on details and attention to client communications,” says Piedmont’s David Saenz. “We frequently marvel at what they built out of a yard overgrown with ivy and weeds.” Locations in Oakland and San Ramon, sumalandscaping.com.
Party Store: Boswell’s Party Supplies
Big Number: 54 Total number of balloon colors, including pearlized and jewel toned, at Boswell’s Party Supplies. Locations in Danville and Lafayette, boswells-party.com. —R.C.
Long Story Short: Eco-Minded Fabrics
Green Goods: Monaluna
Editor Pick When Jennifer Moore expanded her online fabric shop Monaluna into a brick-and-mortar boutique in Walnut Creek, in late 2015, it became a trove for all kinds of earth-friendly treasures.
Inside, the walls are lined with bolts of Moore’s fabric designs: colorful Scandinavian-style patterns of flowers, fruit, and critters. She releases six collections a year printed on 100 percent organic cotton.
Displayed on reclaimed wood shelves and old electrical spools are items that echo Moore’s design aesthetic and sustainable philosophy, including repurposed wood trays and bowls, handmade jewelry, and bath products—and tote bags, pillows, and infinity scarves made with her fabric.
In a studio space at the back of the store, Moore designs upcoming collections and manages wholesale accounts. With this setup, there are many interruptions, but Moore—who used to design children’s clothes for Target and decor for Pottery Barn Kids—wouldn’t have it any other way: “I really love talking to my customers.” 2061 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 448-8055, monaluna.com. —LeeAnne Jones