It all started with The Wire magazine's November 2006 issue. Noella Teele and her partner, Joe Colley, couldn't find it anywhere. "We went to four shops in Oakland and nobody had one," Noella recalled. "So I looked at Joe and said, 'Why don't we start our own magazine store?'" Not the most efficient way to get the November issue, but a fine way to launch a business.
Their store, Issues, soon took root in a little step-down storefront at 20 Glen Avenue (510-652-5700). Much more than a place to browse Haute Handbags or Ultimate Metal Guitar (and, yes, The Wire), the store has grown into a neighborhood hub. And deep down, Issues' raison d'être isn't really magazines: "It's about the people who are interested in the magazines." (It's about their dogs, too, so there are always snacks behind the counter.)
Joe and Noella enjoy the challenge of curating roughly 2,000 titles and a growing assortment of letterpress cards, locally made art and jewelry, books, and gifts. And in addition to introducing periodicals to customers who will love them, Noella organizes avenue events like vegan bake sales for pit-bull rescue, quarterly art shows, and a holiday stroll.
Because she's so involved in the neighborhood, and so dedicated to supporting small businesses, Noella knows every Piedmont Avenue shop. Her recession-friendly favorites include sandwiches served with a smile at Rooz Cafe (4252 Piedmont Ave.), generous $6 lunch specials at Holly's Mandarin (4080 Piedmont Ave.), and Xyclo's (4218 Piedmont Ave.) modern Vietnamese-fusion lunch for just $10. She heads to La Farine (4094 Piedmont Ave.) to sip individually brewed drip coffee and recommends Caffe Trieste (4045 Piedmont Ave.) any time of day: "I love their quiche for breakfast, and the cakes are so decadent."
Avenue stalwarts Spectator Books (4163 Piedmont Ave.) and the Video Room (4364 Piedmont Ave.) — "the last good video store" — get Noella's vote for their excellent selection and knowledgeable staff. The same qualities make Mercy Vintage Now (4188 Piedmont Ave.) a go-to for fashion: "They have a wide variety of clothing from lots of eras, and they always help you find things that fit well," she said.
And because every girl needs a little pampering, recession be damned, Noella indulges in a relaxing mani/pedi at Polish on Piedmont (4319 Piedmont Ave.). "They're so friendly!" she enthused. And friendly service is something Noella Teele knows a lot about.