Thursday, August 30, 2012 | return to: supplement, readers' choice awards


Readers’ Choice: Shop Till You Drop

by naomi kosman-wiener & alana vanzanten

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Judaica & Books

Whether you’re seeking a tallit for a bar or bat mitzvah, a new menorah for Chanukah or a mezuzah to hang on your door, these Judaica stores will have just what you need.

Dayenu at the JCC of San Francisco offers a wide range of items, everything from yahrzeit candles to inexpensive refrigerator magnets to exquisite pieces of jewelry. “We try to incorporate both Israeli-made items and local-made items,” says co-owner Hiroko Nogami-Rosen. Nogami-Rosen has always tried to create an inviting atmosphere, and since last year she rearranged the store’s layout to make it more open.

The goal of Afikomen Judaica in Berkeley is to make every customer feel welcome and honored. According to co-owner Nell Mahgel-Friedman, visitors can find something that will be meaningful in their spiritual journey. “In addition to having ritual items, we also sell high-quality products that support a cultural Jewish life, such as essential oils from Israel, art and jewelry made by local artists, and organic grape juice,” she says. The store has a selection of more than 150 tallits and one of the most diverse Jewish bookstores in the country.

Alef Bet in Los Gatos prides itself on the fact that the majority of its products are handmade so that everything is one-of-a-kind. The store represents more than 45 Israeli artists. Owner Nurit Sabadosh says she tries to make the store as colorful as possible so that everything feels alive. With a high ceiling, Alef Bet allows natural light to flood into the store. “The minute you walk in, you feel happy,” says Sabadosh.

The Women of Rodef Sholom/Sisterhood Gift Shop has become increasingly popular over the years, not only because of its offerings but because of its location: It is one of the first things visitors see when entering the Osher Marin JCC and it instantly beckons customers into its cozy interior. The store, run by volunteers from the Rodef Sholom Sisterhood, has a mirrored wall that reflects the Judaica offerings, which include ritual items, books, cards, jewelry and candles.


San Francisco


JCC of San Francisco

(415) 563-6563


East Bay

Afikomen Judaica


(510) 655-1977


South Bay/Peninsula

Alef Bet Judaica

Los Gatos

(408) 370-1818


North Bay

Women of Rodef Sholom/Sisterhood Gift Shop

Osher Marin JCC

(415) 444-8098


Clothing Store

There’s always room in the closet for new clothing, and these stores will help you stock your closet with some of the most stylish outfits.

Loehmann’s in San Francisco primarily serves women, and although the customers are all different ages, they have one thing in common: They are smart, fashion-conscious shoppers. The store sells top-designer clothes, often straight from the runway, at a discounted price. In fact, sales range from 30 to 60 percent off. You might find $250 shoes for $85.

Ruti Zesser, owner of Ruti in Palo Alto, wanted to bring the fashion she grew up with in Israel to the Bay Area. “In Israel, the most important aspect of clothing is how it looks on the woman’s body and not how it looks on a hanger or in a magazine on a model,” she says. Ruti, therefore, is about loving the female body as it is. All of the outfits are ready-to-wear throughout the day and into the evening and are made with high-quality fabric that feels smooth on the skin. “Everything is simple but with a sophisticated kick,” says Zesser.

San Francisco


(415) 982-3215 •


South Bay/Peninsula


Palo Alto

(650) 391-9719 •



They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and these jewelry stores offer a stunning selection from which to choose.

Shreve & Co., a San Francisco institution since 1894, offers jewelry from many designers as well as a repair service. “Our employees view themselves not only as knowledgeable industry professionals but as your personal shopper, taking care of all our customer needs, large or small, for generations,” says general manager Glen Ross.

San Ramon’s Heller Jewelers has top-of-the-line imported jewelry, from sterling silver to high-end Swiss watches. Owner Scott Heller says, “I am happy to custom-make something for my customers.”

Gleim the Jeweler has been a family business in Palo Alto since 1931, offering selections from emerald collections to Edwardian-era rings, with both new and estate jewelry. “The most important thing that you realize about jewelry is that there is always a story that goes along with it,” says Gleim president Georgie Gleim.

Julianna’s Fine Jewelry in Corte Madera has international favorites, including Mikimoto pearls and Royal Asscher diamonds.


San Francisco

Shreve & Co.

San Francisco

(415) 421-2600 •


East Bay

Heller Jewelers

San Ramon

(925) 904-0200 •


South Bay/Peninsula

Gleim the Jeweler

Palo Alto

(650) 325-3533 •


North Bay

Julianna’s Fine Jewelry

Corte Madera

(415) 924-9711


Shoe Store

As Bubbe would say, you always need good shoes. These stores will make sure you walk out happy.

Arthur Beren, a San Francisco reader favorite, takes pride in serving customers the old-fashioned way, with “dignity and propriety,” and listening to customers’ requests, according to the website. The store carries a range of sizes and widths for men and women, with stylish selections for all seasons.

The Walk Shop in Berkeley opened in 1978 just as athletic shoes were beginning to hit the market, and it was “the first store to offer walking shoes,” says owner Julian Kershaw. “We preselect everything with comfort criteria in mind.” The shop also caters to clients who have foot problems.

Footwear etc., with stores in Palo Alto and elsewhere in the South Bay, is a family business with son and in-laws working side-by-side with owner Eli Monarch. A variety of Naot and BeautiFeel selections, two prominent Israeli shoe companies, can be found at this Israeli-owned shop.

Sole Desire, in the North Bay, is a boutique-style shop that offers European comfort shoes for men and women, with more than 60 brands available. Co-owner David Astobiza wants the customer to “feel good in style.”


San Francisco

Arthur Beren

(415) 397-8900  •


East Bay

The Walk Shop


(510) 849-3628 •


South Bay/Peninsula

Footwear etc.

Palo Alto • (650) 328-1122

Other South Bay locations


North Bay

Sole Desire

San Rafael • (415) 472-1202

Santa Rosa • (707) 542-1690 and (707) 571-8643

Other North Bay locations


Toy Store

From tool belts to tea sets, these toy stores capture a child’s imagination, and the child in all of us.

The Ark in San Francisco provides a plentiful selection of toys from all over the world, including some made right here in the United States. The store, which has two S.F. locations (and one in Berkeley), offers organic and recycled trinkets, as well as toys designed to spark a particular interest, such as science, crafts or music.

Mr. Mopps’ in Berkeley has a strong science and crafts section. Co-owner Devin McDonald says he’s received thank-you notes from children along with stories of youngsters who enjoy dressing up as “Mr. Mopps” and playing storekeeper.

Another East Bay reader favorite is Five Little Monkeys, with stores in Albany and Walnut Creek (and Novato). Stephanie Sala, who says she is the oldest of five little monkeys herself, opened the shop to keep the family close. The store makes a point of selling items that do not require batteries. “We like kids’ imaginations to power the toys that we sell,” Sala says.

Anna and Dexter Chow purchased Cheeky Monkey Toys in Menlo Park while expecting their own bundle of joy in 2002. A selection of toys for babies to tweens can be found at this one-stop shop. “Our overall philosophy is that kids learn through playing, and toys are the tools that they use to learn,” says Anna Chow.

A Child’s Delight in Marin (two locations, plus one in San Francisco) keeps many toys out of the box so children can play with them. “Our store provides wholesome toys, which parents will feel … comfortable giving to their kids,” says co-owner Jonathan Meyer. “We also have free gift wrapping, which people love.”


San Francisco

The Ark

Presidio Heights (415) 440-8697

Noe Valley (415) 821-1257


East Bay

Mr. Mopps’


(510) 525-9633 •

Five Little Monkeys

Albany (510) 528-4411

Walnut Creek (925) 939-4411 •


South Bay/Peninsula

Cheeky Monkey Toys

Menlo Park

(650) 328-7975 •


North Bay

A Child’s Delight

Corte Madera (415) 945-9221

San Rafael (415) 499-0736


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