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Marina Square Center (off I-880 at Marina Blvd. East, MarinaSquareCenter.com) includes Nordstrom Rack (which some regulars lovingly refer to as "the black hole" because it's so massive you can easily lose track of your shopping buddies), Marshall's, and outlet versions of Eddie Bauer, Eileen Fisher, the Gap, Nine West, and Talbots.
Stoneridge Shopping Center (One Stoneridge Mall, Pleasanton, ShopStoneridge.com) is exceptionally clean, and spacious, and features four department stores (Sears, JC Penney's, Macy's and Nordstrom), more than one hundred of the usual suspects (everything from Abercrombie to Hot Topic to Chico's), and a few fun restaurants like P.F. Chang's and the Cheesecake Factory.
Westfield Center (865 Market St., San Francisco, 415-512-6776, Westfield.com/sanfrancisco) houses a posh food court, a movie theater, five floors of mostly brand-name shops, a Nordstrom department store that climbs an additional five levels, and a dreamy Bloomingdale's.
The Bone Room (1569 Solano Ave., Berkeley, 510-526-5252, BoneRoom.com) is full of fossils, sundry animal parts, and unusual jewelry — beetle wing or bacula earrings, anyone?
East Bay Vivarium (1827-C Fifth St., Berkeley, 510-841-1400, EastBayVivarium.com) is a specialty pet store and de facto zoo peddling a menagerie of nature's most curious and/or intimidating creatures.
Good Vibrations (2504 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-8987, GoodVibes.com) isn't your grimy, subterranean sex store; whether you're looking for some devilish handcuffs, a discreet vibrator, or some trucker erotica, you can browse and feel an almost lofty exaltation about the place.
Lacis (2982 Adeline St., Berkeley, 510-843-7290, Lacis.com), both a retail store and a textile arts museum, is a fascinating place to visit even if you're not a needlework or sewing aficionado.
O'Sullivan Cigars and Accessories (1628 Locust St., Walnut Creek, 925-274-1533, CigarBest.com) has a prime selection.
Pet Food Express (6398 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-923-9500, PetFoodExpress.com), which offers a full line of pet products including beds, scratching posts, kennels, and toys along with its "food," is not just a great place to shop because of its institutional convenience, but also because it offers surprisingly good service and promotes animal adoption.
Reel Video (2655 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-1118) has a monster selection — some 100,000 videos and 3,000 to 4,000 DVDs, according to the store manager.
Stagecraft Studios (1854 Alcatraz Ave., Berkeley. 510-653-4424) is a 75-year-old costume, lighting, and makeup store.
Temple Tattoo (384 17th St., Oakland, 510-451-6423, TempleOakland.com) manages to be both inviting and underground, and its extremely talented artists are heavily inked tough guys with hearts of gold.
1-2-3-4 Go! Records (423 40th St., Oakland, 510-985-0325, 1234GoRecords.com) is both a record label and a record store specializing in punk/hardcore and classic-country records.
5th String (3051 Adeline St., Berkeley, 510-548-8282) has instruments and gear, and also offers lessons and a regular jam session.
Acapulco Records (3509 International Blvd., Oakland, 510-533-2009) specializes in a variety of Mexican pop music, from Lupillo Rivera to La Banda del Recodo, Los Tigres del Norte to Selena.
Amoeba Music (2455 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-549-1125, Amoeba.com) houses virtually any medium for music and visuals — CD, DVD, records, cassettes — and any genre of music, from Bakersfield honky-tonk, punk from Texas 1965 and Iceland 1982, to baroque, hip-hop, bebop, remixes of remixes, old-school R&B, and obscure imports.
Best Music Co. (1716 Broadway, Oakland, 510-832-2024, BestMusicCo.com) serves the East Bay community with all manners of musical instruments, but especially those in the brass and woodwind families.
Blue Note Music (2556 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-2583, BlueNote-Music.com) features new and vintage acoustic and electric guitars and amps, plus a hefty complement of supplies, including a decent array of electronics.
DaSilva Ukulele Co. (2547 8th St., Berkeley, 510-649-1548) can handle all your uke needs — handcrafted instruments, repairs, lessons, and gear.
Down Home Music (10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, 510-525-2129, DownHomeMusic.com) stocks around 24,000 roots and world titles, as well as music-related books, DVDs, LPs, and vintage 78s and 45s.
Groove Yard (5555 Claremont Ave., Oakland, 510-655-8400) has a fairly narrow niche — jazz on vinyl — yet that's precisely why loyal customers coming back.
Guitar Center (10300 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito) offers an unbeatable selection of music gear and instruments — with usually some monster sale price to boot.
Indian Music World (26605 Mission Blvd., Hayward, 510-881-5501) has a wide selection of DVDs, CDs, and cassette tapes in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, and Punjabi.
Leo's Pro Audio (5447 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-653-1000, LeosAudio.com) can hook you up with all kinds of audio gear for recording, mixing, and producing the best live sound.
Mod Lang Records (6328 Fairmount Ave., El Cerrito, 510-486-1880, ModLang.com) is a prototypical "cool" record store, where you can unearth rare European imports, B-sides, the latest and greatest indie album, plus a treasure trove of music memorabilia and magazines.
Powerage Amp & Electronic Repair (510-846-3113, PwrAge.com) is the type of unpretentious, straightforward, professional repair shop that will fix or modify just about anything, new or vintage, at shockingly reasonable prices.
Rasputin Music (2401 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 800-350-8700, multiple locations, RasputinMusic.com) is a CD and record store that also has in-store events featuring local and touring artists.
Starving Musician (2474 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-2648, StarvingMusician.com) specializes in used gear for a clientele that befits its name.
Subway Guitars (1800 Cedar St., Berkeley, 510-841-4106), owned by the eccentric "Fatdog," is a tiny store filled with guitars and basses in all sizes, shapes, and custom-made configurations.