Pendragon is a fun place to while away the time and buy a few books. It is a store best visited with nothing specific in mind--as the smallest of the Pendragon/Pegasus stores, there are a few holes in their selection, but what they do have is quite good. It's a store that makes you want to read. The magazine selection is especially worth a look.
On the #51 line, close to Rockridge BART.
This small shop, tucked behind the cafe of the same name, has a great selection of classical CDs. They specialize in early music. The staff, who tend to be musicians themselves, know and enjoy the products themselves, so they can offer advice and answer questions. They accept used CDs in good condition for store credit. You may also place special orders and have your CDs shipped. Open 7 days a week. All new CDs are full price, though, so a trip here might be pricey.
Those of us living in the Bay Area are lucky to be able to walk into the brick-and-mortar of the famous mail-order sex toy store. A friend once remarked that it looks like the Gap--and if by that she meant the open, unembarrassed and even aesthetically arranged presentation of merchandise, she was right. The staff is great--knowledgeable, frank, and friendly, they can give you whatever advice you have the nerve to ask. Woman-friendly, man-friendly, queer- and straight-friendly. Videos for sale and rent ($3.50 a night).
CONS: For leather/bondage gear, go to Mr. S
Like most game stores, Games of Berkeley seems to be run by gamers. That means they know a lot about what they sell--certainly more than my non-gaming self. They are nice about it, though. The store has a wide selection of games of all sorts--from kids' games to party games to more esoteric entertainments, and it is well-organized. Definitely worth checking out.Conveniently located near the Downtown Berkeley BART and several buslines.
...as a politcal action and education center. The book selection is actually somewhat small, even for such a focused topic. But the employees are dedicated and really care about socialism, so they are willing and able to help on most subjects. They offer many weekly classes; only sign up for the mailing list if you mean it! Note that they have somewhat limited hours; when I went they were technically closed, but the guy there let me in anyway.
...even in the Bay Area where they are as common as McDonalds. The books here are in great condition, and they come at pretty good prices. But the most shocking thing is how they manage to have such a good selection in a fairly small space. Expect lots of old hardcovers--yay! The staff is pretty friendly, if a bit hands-off. The atmosphere is also peaceful and pleasant, a break from the busy, urban setting of the Mission.
One warning: there is a bathroom available, but it has no sink. Bring anti-bacterial gel.
Benefit is a trendy shop located on Berkeley's toney 4th Street. True to form, it delivers good skin care at reasonable (to slightly high) prices. An eyebrow wax will cost you around $18 plus tip. The women working here are fun and stylish, with a fifties edge and a few tattoos, and they treat customers very well. Only one complaint--the company does not offer products for skin tones outside the typical range for Caucasians.
You can see it coming from miles away--the beautifully maintained sign that announces the Grand Lake. It's a beautiful theatre, and you even get the full Wurlizter experience on selected weekend shows. Only one caveat: the movie choices are pretty much limited to big-budget Hollywood flicks. General admission $9 for adults. Conservatives be warned: some of the political opinions expressed on the marquee might offend.
PROS: Parking available under the highway
This store's slogan is "books by and about black people everywhere." And they certainly do fulfill that charge. Everything from fluffy genre fiction to scholarly writing can be found here. The selection is both wide and deep--not just one book by important authors, but a number of choices. The organization can be somewhat perplexing, but there at least there is signage, and the staff is helpful. Those sensitive to incense might not like it.
Right near the Japan Center; a couple blocks off the Muni 38L.
This is one of those surprisingly nice stores--a small collection of used books, with a few new ones thrown in, but it seems to be lovingly gathered and maintained. The proprietress treats customers quite nicely--clearly she wants your return business. I saw quite a few surprising finds here--from philosophy to opera scores--it's definitely worth a second trip.