Retail Therapy


The Great Outdoors

Fly a Kite, Climb a Rock, Surf the Wind

    Summer is finally here—the kids have the whole season stretching in front of them, as do you. Take advantage of the nice weather to head to the great outdoors. You can enjoy everything from hiking to kite flying to windsurfing here in our backyard or go further afield if you really want to rough it. Here is a roundup of some fine East Bay retail establishments that can help you get outside to enjoy the sun.

Highline Kites

    Tom McAlister is nuts for kites. Founder of the Berkeley Kite Festival (July 27-28 at the Berkeley Marina), Tom also runs what he calls “the smallest kite shop in the known universe” out of a truck parked at the “turning circle” in the Berkeley Marina’s Cesar Chavez Park. Ask him for entree into the rolling shop to check out kites that run from $6 to $4,500 (for giant octopus-shaped kits that need two people to man them). He’ll also answer any questions you have about kiting or about the festival. Just taking a gander at the brightly colored bits of nylon flying over the green hills of the park on a sunny day lifts the spirits.
    At the Berkeley Marina, but see the Web site for exact location; (510) 235-5483;; 1:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. or sundown Sat.-Sun. Additional summer hours: 5:30 p.m.– 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Fri.

Destination 1440

    Get ready to feast your ears on some righteous punk if you decide to go shopping for your favorite board-sport equipment and accoutrements at this radical Berkeley shop. Come here for skateboards by Arbor, Sector and more; a variety of surfboards and snowboards; and clothes that “go with the boarding lifestyle,” according to the staff. That includes wetsuits from O’Neill, T-shirts from Quiksilver, bikinis galore from Paul Frank and summery tank tops and halter tops from Roxy. It’s got a pretty decent selection of kids’ boarding gear, too.
    1440 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; (510) 526-7529;; 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat. and 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.

Montclair Sports

    Talk about longevity. This sporting goods shop has been a Montclair staple for 51 years. And in the same location no less. Tom Revelli bought the shop from the original owners in 1977 and says that come summer, his patrons flock in for tennis gear, swimwear, sunglasses and active clothing for men, women, and tots. It does a fair amount of repair services, so if your racket is singing the catgut blues (figuratively, not literally in this modern age), come on in to get your strings repaired. And if you’re the type that likes to get things done in advance, check out the snow and ski gear.
    1970 Mountain Blvd.; (510) 339-9313; 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Wed.; 9:30 a.m.–8 p.m. Thu.; 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Fri.; 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Sat.; and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun.

Wilderness Exchange

    Does the summer sun have you hankering for the wilder parts of the Golden State? Wilderness Exchange is the spot to pick up both new and used—but guaranteed—backpacking, rock climbing, camping and mountaineering paraphernalia. You’ll find everything from new water bottles, tents and backpacks to gear and clothing from such brands as Coleman, Sierra Designs, JanSport and Victorinox at massive outlet discounts (up to 50 percent). You never know exactly what you’ll find here, but the choices are always top notch. Bring in your used but still viable goods for a trade-in discount.
    1407 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; (510) 525-1255;; 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sun.–Wed. and 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Thu.–Sat.

Kite Wind Surf

    With summer winds come more opportunities to indulge in frolicking in our lovely Bay. And how better to do that than with a board under your feet and the wind in your sails? If you’re an avid windsurfer or kiteboarder, you already know about this Alameda shop and school. If you’re interested in picking up either sport, head here pronto for both lessons and all the gear you need. Located across from Robert Crown Memorial Beach (watch out for the geese), this unassuming shop is crammed with rentals and kites, boards, sails, and safety gear for sale. It ain’t cheap—a kiteboard package can run as much as $2,000. But on a clear day on the Bay, this sport looks like just about the most fun ever. You can also pick up skateboards and surfboards if your boarding skills bend that way.
    430 Westline Drive, Alameda; (510) 522-9463;; noon–6 p.m. Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat.
—By Elise Proulx
—Photography by Amy Perl

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