2017 Best of the East Bay: Shops
Accessories made in Moraga; a fashion-forward clothing boutique in Walnut Creek.
Illustration by Basemint
Orchard Nursery and Florist
Orchard Nursery and Florist is a winner once again, and it’s easy to see why beginning gardeners and seasoned green thumbs alike love this shop.
By the Numbers
4–80: Range of class sizes for Orchard’s gardening courses, which include terrarium workshops and composting basics.
5: Amount of acres owned and operated by the store.
6: Number of California-certified nursery professionals on staff.
71: Years the independently owned nursery has been open for business.
100,000+: Number of perennials sold annually. —C.C.
Editor Pick: Pippa and Co.
Lisa Milestone worked as an art director in New York for Condé Nast magazines and did fashion styling and creative direction for big-name brands such as Gymboree, Pottery Barn Kids, and Stella and Dot. But when she was pregnant with her first child, Milestone found her true calling after realizing how much she loved decorating for baby showers and birthday parties. In 2014, she opened Pippa and Co., a party supply store in Alameda, where you can find everything from the sophisticated (lettered banners and handmade cards) to the whimsical (giant inflatable flamingos and neon cactus lights). Visit the shop—named for Milestone’s daughter, Pippa—for all your needs, including confetti-filled balloons for gender-reveal parties, or workshops led by local artists, like hand-lettering with ink and watercolors. —R.C.
Labels Luxury Consignment
Berkeley and Walnut Creek, labelsluxury.com
If you’ve ever been luxury consignment hunting in the East Bay, you’ve more than likely shopped at Labels. This staple has been through 19 years of expansions, moves, and face-lifts, with owner Lynn Nice at the helm. We checked in with her to find out everything from her favorite fashion decade to what’s next for the store.
Q: Labels celebrated its 19th anniversary this past April. What is it about luxury consignment that you love?
A: The concept makes so much sense to me. People have nice pieces that they’re not wearing, but they aren’t going to toss them, either. Pick up that check from a sale, and use it to reinvest in a new wardrobe. I also feel like there are few jobs where you get to build relationships the way I get to. People are relaxed when shopping as opposed to being in the dentist’s chair.
Q: After a long day at work, where do you go to unwind?
A: As much as I enjoy being with [customers] all day, quiet time spent hiking in nature rejuvenates me. I live in Oakland and recently got in a walk at Sibley [Volcanic Regional Preserve] with my daughter. Our family getaway is the Lake Tahoe area, with favorite summer lakes including Fallen Leaf, Angora, and Echo.
Q: What are the differences between the Walnut Creek and Berkeley locations?
A: Berkeley is more understated. It’s not status; it’s quality. It’s pieces that are skillfully crafted and simple, such as Bottega Veneta or Zorin. A Chanel, Gucci, or Louis Vuitton bag might be too much in Berkeley but will fly off the shelves in Walnut Creek.
Q: You see more than just what’s trendy right now. Do you have a favorite fashion era?
A: I’m drawn to ’80s and ’90s pieces for the quality and the nostalgia. There are pieces I loved when I was in my twenties but couldn’t necessarily afford. These decades are still so relevant, especially if paired with a current shoe cut, like a block heel. I may have on my Theory pants and my ’80s double-breasted Hermès blouse. It’s fun to mix and match.
Q: What’s next for Labels?
A: Whether it’s a fashion show or something else that brings the community together, I want to hold fundraising-type events. One of my employees has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, so I’d like to raise money for charities. I’d also like to grow Labels online to the point that we’re shipping clothes worldwide. It’s where most retail is going. —C.M.
When Natasha Grasso moved to Orinda, she knew she wanted a store/studio space close to home—and our readers are sure glad she did. Using only nickel-free metals recycled in the United States and semiprecious stones, Grasso’s pieces bridge the gap between everyday and fine jewelry. A best-seller continues to be the Love Knot design, a favorite of A-list celebs—such as Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, and Gwyneth Paltrow—while Sarah Jessica Parker prefers Grasso’s 14k gold horseshoe necklace. —C.M.
Home Decor Store
Elsie Green House and Home
Does your home’s interior need a new look? Call Elsie Green’s co-owner and decorating guru Laurie Furber, who can come to your home for personal
assistance. Or pop into the store on your own to browse for items from around the globe. Furber makes trips to France several times a year, with detours to Eastern Europe and Morocco. You can also opt for a more local option: Pick up a pillow or two from the store’s own line, which was recently created with summer’s current trend of black, white, and chambray in mind. If you’re not ready to commit to a piece, Elsie Green has your back: From fine china to funky furniture, any piece that catches your eye in the shop can be rented. —C.M.
Men’s Clothing Store
Venture Quality Goods
“Venture is great because of its high-quality selections and absolutely first-class service. I bought a pair of pants that had an issue. I returned them, and the replacement pair was driven to my house by owner Tom Stenzel himself!” —Brian Drue, Lafayette
Walnut Creek, wishwalnutcreek.com
Wish, a tucked-away gem with an impressive spread of gift items, supports local vendors as much as possible. Need something for a mom with a new baby? Keep things fashionable yet practical with a silicone teething necklace from Chewable Charm based out of Livermore. Have a cousin who needs a housewarming present? With East Bay summers begging for backyard time, pick up a custom-built table by Walnut Creek’s Varnish Designs. Want to be a big hit at your next girls night in? Get the besties something they can use during Bravo TV binge sessions: a Real Housewives of Walnut Creek wine glass printed by Alamo-based It’s a Wrap. —C.M.
Fine Furniture Store
Take a whirl through the 16,000-square-foot showroom at this family-owned Concord store, and you’ll find everything you need to furnish your home, from chairs to couches to coffee tables. Owner Jim Cole and his team of designers take great pride in making the furniture shopping experience less overwhelming for customers, offering complimentary in-home design service and hands-on guidance through the selection process. They’ll help you sort through the myriad options to find furnishings you’ll love, at the price point you desire. And they’ll deliver the pieces to anywhere in the country—pronto. It’s the one-stop shop of your dreams. —A.S.
Women’s Clothing Boutique
Walnut Creek, vicicollection.com
From off-the-shoulder tops and resort wear to must-have Piper jeggings, Vici has your summer wardrobe covered. Still need help figuring out what to wear? Book a one-hour styling appointment—complete with a reserved room, champagne, and one-on-one attention—or gather your gal pals for a semiprivate shopping event. The founders are well-known social media mavens (Vici’s Instagram account has 126,000 followers and counting) and will launch an app in the near future. Look forward to features such as coupons, promotions, daily new arrivals, and the option to save your payment information. —C.M.