Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Small Business Saturday

I’ve just returned from my Black Friday Shopping foray. Mrs. Blog and I rose at 4am (Friday at the time of writing) and made some new friends outside the Office Max in Oxnard. Having secured our new treasure – a laptop for the lady – I came home and saw an email sent to remind me that Saturday (today) is Small Business Saturday. In a recent post, I wrote about the challenges of the endangered species – the small, independent business.

Today’s initiative is a great response to Black Friday. It is interesting that the day is being sponsored by American Express Credit Card Company – yes you read that correctly I went online to check it when I was told. Here is the Facebook page so it must be true!

Though I am 300 miles away, here are a few of my favorite local businesses in Berkeley.

1. Manhattan Bagels is over on 4th Street. There isn’t a lot to say – they have the best bagels in town, a great variety (check out the Cranberry Orange), and the service and parking is smooth.

2. East Bay Vivarium – when you’ve finished your bagel, why not pop over to the East Bay Vivarium. Okay, this is for reptile lovers, but I want to point them out because they care about their pets, even after you have purchased and taken the little critters home. As nervous new parents, my sons and I have often returned for advice from the staff, and they have always been happy to dispense from their wealth of experience. I am particularly impressed when someone says: “I’m not sure. Let me check with the others.”

Meet the beautiful, latest addition to our family – Nanchuk, a Crested Gecko.

3. The Bread Workshop – I realize I’m pushing the carbs here, but this a great place to eat, to hang out for coffee, and to feel good with a vendor using a fair amount of local products and organic ingredients.  I might be biased since they hosted the book launch of my previous incarnation of The Accidental Activist, but this really is an excellent example of a business that aims to be sustainable. You can find The Bread Workshop at 1398 University Avenue.

4. Out of the Closet – This is a thrift store (there are a few around the Bay Area) on University. The thing about this place is that there always seems to be something to surprise you and this probably explains why it is a favorite venue in the run up to Halloween. It also helps to know that Out of the Closet supports AIDS projects and was set up by one of the all-time basketball greats – Magic Johnson.

5. Rasputin Music – is an icon up on Telegraph Avenue. They have a great stock of discs at affordable prices. I’ve also picked up several movies here.

So while you plan your day, here is the latest offering from my favorite musician, Lloyd Cole. I can’t think of any reason to link the song to the article, I’m just excited that he has a new disc out!

And while you are here, why not list below in the comments your favorite local, small business, and give them a plug.

Happy Small Business Saturday.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

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2 thoughts on “Small Business Saturday

  1. Thanks, Alon, for inviting us to share as well. You’ve covered music for me, I spent soooooooo many hours in the basement of Rasputin, as well as Amoeba. I still have the vinyl to show for it too! They are deep rooted in my musical obsession.

    As for this recession we’re in, I keep hoping that people will be forced to be creative for income, and we will see the resurgence of the small business. We’d do well to remember that all chains started small somewhere, and while I love the low prices at the big W, I still try to cater to the independents when I can.

    Some favorite restaurants:
    http://pavilionbarandgrill.com/ – The Pavilion, in Clayton. Best piccata I’ve ever had.

    http://mirakuwalnutcreek.com/ – Miraku, Walnut Creek. Love love love the ginger beef.

    http://pezzellas.com/ – Pezzella’s, Sunnyvale. My husband used to take me here for the great service and yummy food. Very intimate and friendly.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Concord-CA/BAMBINOS-CONCORD/279686811440 – Bambino’s in Concord. Extremely friendly, the freshest salad bar with homemade dressings, and crab feeds once in a while that is a great night out.

    and of course, Au Coquelet in Berkeley. Great food, friendly to groups.

    For entertainment, I highly recommend you make the drive to Concord for the Solano Drive-In. Makes for a great night of family fun, or as my husband and I like to do – grab a pizza or some sandwiches, pack a picnic, and bring the blankets. Awesome date night!
    http://events.contracostatimes.com/concord-ca/venues/show/38700-west-wind-solano-2-drivein-and-public-market

    Bill’s Ace Hardware(s), sprinkled throughout the east bay. Despite the backing of a large chain, with this small franchise chain there is always a small town feel, and always a collaborative effort to answer our questions or help us locate even the tiniest nail or fitting.

    and a shout out to my dad … one of the most successful indie businessmen I know. Bill’s Tire Service in Pacheco – 40 years strong.

  2. Pingback: Surviving Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Buy Nothing Day « Left Coast Voices

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