Just like the organism from which it takes its name, Amoeba Music?s stock of tunes has no definite form. At each location, expert music gurus?many of them musicians themselves, all of them record-store veterans and dedicated sonic obsessives?amass thousands of new and used CDs and LPs from the most mainstream artists to the most obscure underground bands around. LPs, posters, and memorabilia surround the musical inventory, which, like Ringo Starr?s pants, changes every day. Amoeba buys goods from customers, meaning that on any given day the store might usher in a rare vinyl LP, DVD, VHS, or even LaserDisc. Visitors can sign up for any number of contests while admiring Amoeba?s enduring dedication to its green practices and community outreach. Amoeba couples its huge selection of entertainment with visits from the artists themselves, welcoming past guests such as Paul McCartney, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords, and Elvis Costello to play in-store.
Since it first opened in 1926, the nursery has covered more than half a city block with its sprawling tangles of fruit trees, exotic botanicals, shrubs, and grasses. When carefully curating their collection of accessories, the green-thumbed team selects products they too would use in their gardens. As a result, most insecticides and fertilizers at the nursery are organic, and the lawn gnomes are raised cage-free. Imported pottery from Europe and the Pacific Rim is also available to house new plants and add decorative touches in interiors and exteriors.
Come Thanksgiving time, the nursery becomes a forest of fresh-cut Christmas trees. Adding to the seasonal whimsy is a variety of blown-glass ornaments made with vintage molds available to spangle the center’s silver tips, noble firs, and douglas firs with the shiny shapes of yesteryear
For Books Inc., it's been a long road, and if you trace the lines back to its origins, it's California's oldest bookstore. After striking gold?literally?back in 1851, Anton Roman set up shop as a bookseller. Although the shop moved, was sold, burned down, changed hands again, and was rebuilt, the spirit remained intact, and today, multiple locations of the indie bookstore have sprouted up across The Golden State. Staff members keep the shelves lined with classic and contemporary tomes in all genres, and a myriad of book clubs help keep the love of literature alive. They also run a vibrant event program featuring author events and readings where patrons can enjoy an experience they can't download.
Housed in a historical turn-of-the-century storefront, Home 101’s airy shop is brimming with carefully curated vintage items and eclectic gifts. In the penthouse portion of a weathered wooden cabinet, a flock of Stonehouse olive oils and vinegars ($14–$24) preens in preparation for its yearly migration to local kitchens, and a bevy of June Taylor preserves and syrups ($12–$18) sits patiently on the floor below. At the same time on a nearby table, a menagerie of Soap and Paper Factory hand creams, candles, perfume solids and soaps ($8–$28) struts brightly patterned packaging plumage in a futile attempt to impress the stony faces of David Dexter’s pastel-colored wood-panel portraits ($16–$24).
Michael Paranyo's birdie bungalows and avian mansions, handcrafted from recycled materials, have caught the attention of human eyes by being featured on HGTV and Bay Area Backroads. Rakish cuts of distinctive wood imbue the houses with a rustic feel, and roofs made of copper sheets lend a ramshackle charm to the domiciles. The town and country birdhouse ($99.95) evokes the appealing simplicity of the Great Plains, and themed pieces such as the chez noir birdfeeder and restaurant ($99.95) flaunts fashion with its dual-story design, ladder, and glass doorknob. Placate feuding families of lovebirds with two smaller birdhouses, such as the townhouse-style south Berkeley starter home ($49.95) and the Rustic A-frame outfitted with fig branches and a perch for romantic balcony scenes in which fowl lovers long for the ability to fly away like a human.
A magazine about canine culture, The Bark melds readable articles about animal behavior and health with the pooch-related ponderings of writers including Augusten Burroughs, Ann Patchett, and Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Mary Oliver. Subscribers who read the current issue out loud to their bibliophilic bichon frise can absorb an article by Camille Ward and Barbara Smuts, which focuses on how dogs resolve conflicts, or snicker at Rex and the City author Lee Harrington's sly skewering of a dog lover's foibles in "The Chloe Chronicles."