Best of Berkeley: Best Shopping

Kira Walker/Staff

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Best Bookstore: Moe’s Books

Located on Telegraph, just four blocks from campus, Moe’s Books has so much going for it besides its convenient location. Beyond its unique selection of rare and used books, the storefront itself is chock-full of history. It was even captured briefly in the film “The Graduate,” in a scene where a young Dustin Hoffman sits in a cafe across the street, taking in the sights of Berkeley.

Moe’s, however, is probably more famous for being one of the best purveyors of used books on the West Coast. Its prices are affordable and its selection is both relevant and highly sophisticated. Plus that selection is constantly changing, so every trip to Moe’s brings with it exciting new discoveries. Take your time when planning a trip because, with four floors of content, one can literally spend hours browsing the shelves before buying anything. The other great thing about Moe’s is that it isn’t just about buying and selling; it’s also host to a variety of readings and exclusive author events from the likes of Dave Eggers and Jonathan Lethem.

            — Michelle Ma

Image: Kira Walker/Staff

Best Men’s Clothing: Bancroft Clothing

Are you a true Cal-o-phile? Is your wardrobe as barren as your wallet? Look no further, Golden Bears — Bancroft Clothing Co.’s got you covered. They’ve got it all: Cal pants, Cal socks, Cal everything. And it’s basically all free, since your parents will no doubt lavish as much Cal stuff upon you as your school spirit can take, should you require any. Huzzah!

But Daily Cal, you say, what if I need some nonursine threads in a pinch? Have no fear — the store also features a massive selection of hats, coats, pants, shoes and other more eclectic items. It’s pretty much the only place in Berkeley you can rely on to fully clothe you in the event of emergency nudity. On top of all that, they have football helmets (in case of an emergency fourth down) and tuxedo vests (in case of an emergency wedding)! Bancroft Clothing’s massive selection of simple, quality threads and student-friendly prices — in addition to the cornucopia of Cal gear — should keep Cal men warm in the winters and cool all year round.

— True Shields

Best Women’s Clothing: Urban Outfitters

There is something dazzling in the way that spandex mini skirts and neon cropped pants leap out against the Urban Outfitter’s stark interior; the scuffed, concrete slab floors, low-key light fixtures and wooden beams give off the “I wasn’t even trying” vibe, as if all their clothes fell into an abandoned warehouse. Cut to a slim employee with Ray Ban-style glasses and a book on how to take “vintage” Polaroid pictures — yeah, trendiness is bred here.

But what makes Urban appeal to a broader crowd is their gradient of style. For this spring they have set up three major trends — floral, black magic and denim — ranging from sugary cotton dresses, to spiky black pumps and pagan-inspired tees to distressed high-waisted denim shorts that always seem to be unearthed for summer regardless of the fashion trends. Where else can you buy your dainty lace Sunday best and your racy fishnet club dress all in one store? The only downside, as with any clothing store in a college town, is that the products multiply to obnoxious ubiquity.

— Allie Wallace

Best Thrift Store: Crossroads

Love it:

Crossroads Trading Co. is a godsend when trendy, quality clothing — that won’t absolutely crack the piggy bank — is needed in a snap. Granted, when it is a cold and blustery day in Berkeley and the closet won’t yield an appropriately lumpy air-tight sweater, Buffalo Exchange might be the place to go.

However, when something especially classy is called for, when stains, strings and staggering seams simply will not do, Crossroads is the place to go. Arguably, it is more expensive than Buffalo, but the merchandise is generally selected with more tender, loving and care than are items at other secondhanders. Brand names are up for grabs, generally in good condition and prewashed. And purchasing that quality, totally vintage Burberry raincoat comes with the instant gratification of being eco-friendly, preserving resources and keeping clothes from landfills, as Crossroads was created to do. With locations on both College and Shattuck Avenues and a loaded website, equipped with how-to’s, fashion tips and blogs, Crossroads is simply put, a road worth treading.

— Hannah Levy

Hate it:

Cheap mall clothes from stores like Forever 21 are known to look tacky and fall apart after a few months — So what do you think happens to cheap mall clothes when they are sold secondhand? While Crossroads Trading Co. boasts a huge collection of contemporary clothing (not just grandma sweaters and old-man pants like some thrift stores), their buyers sacrifice good curation for mass appeal. Often refusing to take garments of the more audacious variety, Crossroads has become a rehashed version of last season’s low-quality duds found at chain stores everywhere. This is Berkeley, after all. Where is the flavor?

If you are going for a similar price range to Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange is a tried and true staple of secondhand shopping in the East Bay. With their collection of both contemporary and vintage clothing, the daring fashionista and the safe trender can’t go wrong there. And if you have more than just some change ja-jingling, baby, like keys in your pocket, try James Rowland Shop on Dwight. Their small collection of vintage is chosen with a designer’s keen eye.

— Nastia Voynovskaya