Le Labo perfumery on the former Spenger site sells fine perfumes (nothing fishy)

Find out which stores have opened, closed or moved and what’s new in Berkeley’s small business communities. If you have Berkeley business updates to share, email [email protected].

Open fourth street

Bergamot and sandalwood scents are offered at the perfumery in the former Spenger’s Fish Grotto

What was once Spenger’s seafood store is now the high-end Le Labo perfumery. Courtesy: The Lab

If Berkeley was a perfume, what would it smell like? Meyer lemon, salt air and rosemary, with a top note of redwood?

Le Labo perfumery, which opened in September 2020 in the former Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto, has introduced 13 city scents, including San Francisco, which got its own lime-based scent in 2013. But for the At the moment, Berkeley Le Labo is too new and too small to have its own flavor. One may be under construction. One day.

Two Frenchmen opened the first Le Labo in New York’s Nolita neighborhood in 2006. Eight years later, the company was bought by Estée Lauder. Today, it has an international presence and more than 40 locations, all of which reflect the same aesthetic of yesteryear: intentionally distressed walls where tiles and peeling wallpaper are partially covered in plaster, reclaimed sinks, desks wooden shelves, tables and shelves containing glass bottles.

All Le Labo stores have the same distressed interiors meant to convey the perfumeries of yesteryear. Courtesy: The Lab

As a “slow perfumery”, Le Labo offers 19 eau de parfum fragrances composed on site in laboratory beakers, then decanted into glass bottles and labeled. Because perfumes don’t contain fillers or parabens, they expire in about two years. A 50ml bottle is $198; a 100ml bottle, $289. (To encourage bottle reuse, refills are 20% off.) Personal fragrances also extend to a range of body products.

There are also 10 candle scents, separate and distinct from personal scents. The idea is that no one should smell like their living room.

The laboratory, 1915 Fourth St. (at Hearst Street), Suite 101, Berkeley. Telephone: 510-439-0188. Opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 11am-6pm Login via Facebook and instagram.

In the spotlight fourth street

Warby Parker designs sunglasses inspired by Berkeley’s Toro y Moi

The artist known as Toro 7 Me (Chaz Bundick) wears one of the new Warby Parker sunglasses as he plays some of his music from a portable DJ rig. Credit: Joanne Furio
A crowd gathers in front of a jeepney outside Warby Parker to hear Toro y Moi play songs from their new album. Credit: Joanne Furio

At 5 p.m. last Friday, the polymath known as Toro y Moi sat in the back of a tricked-out jeepney, playing songs from his new album, mahal, as fans shook their heads in time to the music. The jeepney was parked outside the Fourth Street Warby Parker, which introduced two styles of sunglasses inspired by the artist’s personal style and music.

Toro y Moi is the stage name of Chaz Bundick, aka Chaz Bear, a singer-songwriter, producer, and graphic designer from Berkeley. He is best known for his contributions to “chillwave” music in the 2010s, a laid back style loosely based on 1980s electropop. In 2017, Mayor Jesse Arreguín declared June 27 “Chaz Bundick Day” in l honor for his contribution to the arts.

Designers at Warby Parker used words like “upbeat,” “expressive” and “eye-catching” to describe their inspiration for the sunglasses, which start at $95. Bundick wore the clear frame version as the sun set on Fourth Street and his fans nodded.

Warby Parker, 1911 Fourth St. (at Hearst Street), Suite 100, Berkeley. Telephone: 510-584-3732. Hours: Daily, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., log in via Facebook and instagram.

Moved North Berkeley

Fantastic Comics is downsizing to a much smaller store

Uel Carter in Fantastic Comics’ little new house. Credit: Joanne Furio

Growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Uel Carter was a precocious reader who, at the age of 4, had already landed on his favorite genre: comics.

“I was into Spiderman, X-Men, maybe a Superman,” he said. As a child, Carter also favored the work of independent publishers in the 1980s who created characters like Gru the Wanderer, Star Slayer, Grim Jack, “but nobody knows them”.

Carter is the owner of Fantastic Comics, an 11-year-old boutique that moved about a year and a half ago from its downtown Berkeley location at 2026 Shattuck Ave. to a brand new store – less than a fifth the size of the original store – in North Berkeley.

“We planned to move anyway,” Carter said. “The rent was just too high.

Carter’s inventory numbers number in the thousands. What’s not on display is in reserve, dating mostly from what aficionados call the Bronze Age (the 1970s) to today. “I have no problem selling ’50s comics,” he said, “you don’t see them too often.”

Prices range from $3 to $5 for comics; $15 to $30 for comic collections.

A selection of comics at the store. Credit: Joanne Furio

Prior to launching his own store, Carter worked for years as a “jockey cashier” at retail stores, primarily comic book stores. His many years in the business have made him an expert who shares his experiences on a weekly live Youtube show (Tuesdays at 8 p.m.) which has nearly 900 subscribers. On the show, Carter discusses upcoming comic book releases, industry news, and tips on running a store.

“When I opened this store, the only thing I knew was comic books,” he said. “Now I also know how to run a business.”

Fantasy comics, 1708A Martin Luther King Jr. Way (at Cedar Street), Berkeley. Telephone: 510-982-1451. Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Connect via Facebook, instagram, Sub-stack and Twitter.

In the spotlight West Berkeley

Customers are looking for a bilingual expert to help the merchant who turns trash into treasure

Frida Godoy, owner of Reuse Arts and Crafts, and Marissa Almor, who help with the shop and translate for Godoy. Credit: Joanne Furio

If you’re a lawyer or a businessman who can turn a small eco-shop into a nonprofit — and if you also speak Spanish — Frida Godoy supporters need your help.

Godoy owns Reuse Arts and Crafts, a San Pablo storefront where she has turned discarded materials into whimsical works of art since opening in January 2020. On November 30, Godoy’s three-year lease will end and her monthly rent will increase by $4,000 to $6,000. She fears that the increase will force her to close her doors. She said the pandemic had set her back. She also struggled to pay taxes and utilities.

“It’s hard enough to make $4,000,” Godoy said in Spanish.

Godoy has no problem with his landlord, Ton Ogi-Roddins, who has been flexible and allowed him to pay $2,000 rent for most of the lease due to the pandemic. Last month was the only month that Godoy paid the full rent. Ogi-Roddins told Berkeleyside he wanted to work with Godoy and her husband, Boni, who helps with the business, so they can stay.

Marisa Almor and Kris Rourke are among a contingent of customers working to help Godoy stay in the store by turning it into a non-profit organization, which they say will allow it to raise money from the community and to pay less tax.

Customers of this San Pablo store hope to turn it into a nonprofit. Photo: Joanne Furio

Berkeley locals who support Godoy’s work often drop off raw materials at the store, like a man last Friday who donated paper bags. In the past, Godoy used such bags to create the spots on two eight-foot-tall giraffes in the store.

“They help me, I help them, we all help the planet,” Godoy told Berkeleyside last year.

Those interested in helping Godoy can email [email protected] or Almor at [email protected]

Reuse arts and crafts, 1824 San Pablo Avenue (at Hearst Avenue). Call: 510-967-3324. Hours: daily from 1:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Connect via instagram and pinterest.

Joanne Furio moved to Berkeley because it has sidewalks. She specializes in design in all its forms, innovation and the arts.

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