Small Businesses & Chain Stores

In my last post, I mentioned the upcoming closing of the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Shattuck. Some readers not from Berkeley may have been surprised that there was a large chain bookstore in Berkeley. In fact, Berkeley is not entirely devoid of larger chain stores. There is not Walmart or Costco, of course, but there are outlets of businesses such as Starbucks, Safeway, Longs Drugs, Walgreens, REI, and Orchard Supply Hardware. And yes, there are several fast food chains here as well. However, there are many independently owned businesses in Berkeley, including some of the businesses that seem to be disappearing elsewhere such as travel agents, shoe repair, and small appliance repair. And in this small city there are two stores devoted to typewriter sales and repair!

I am planning very soon to devote a post to topics related to the borders of Berkeley, but one point I want to touch upon now is the interesting phenomenon of chain stores right over the Berkeley border. One of Berkeley’s bordering cities is Emeryville, which was once industrial similar to West Berkeley. Now a large percentage of the city is loft spaces and shopping malls. Just about any chain store that you can thing of that exists in the Bay Area can be found in Emeryville. Between all of the shopping center entrances and the freeway on-ramps, Emeryville is not the easiest or most pleasant place for walking. Many of the same stores here in Emervyville, south of Berkeley, can be found to the north in El Cerrito. A year or so ago, a new Target store opened literally right over the Berkeley border in Albany. Generally visiting a chain store necessitates heading out of town to the north or south.

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