Posts Tagged ‘Tail of the Yak’

A collection of Tail of the Yak boxes. In Tibetan culture the tail of a yak is a symbol of good luck.

Tail of the Yak on Ashby Avenue in Berkeley has announced that they will close in June. After 51 years I guess it’s time – nothing lasts forever, but still, it’s sad.

Tail of the Yak is a small gift store offering items like embroidered ribbon, paper lanterns, handmade fruit-shaped paper surprise balls, linens, glassware, candles, cards, journals, and other delightful things. Much of the merchandise is imported from around the world including Mexico, Ukraine, India, and Japan. One of the biggest draws to the shop is a large glass display case of antique jewelry – Georgian, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco. Rings, earrings, beads, and brooches galore!

Co-owners Alice Erb and Lauren McIntosh have curated the shop to reflect their unique aesthetic, which has become well known and much admired. Cross their threshold into a charming world where the wood floor creaks with every step, signs are printed in calligraphy by hand, and cooing doves greet you from their grand antique birdcage.

The first antique ring I bought for myself at Tail of the Yak. Turquoise and coral in 14k gold.

My mother introduced me to The Yak, as it is affectionately known, when I was still in high school. Later when I was working at the nearby shop, Primavera, I used to pop into The Yak and peruse the antique jewelry, none of which I could afford at the time. But there was one turquoise and coral ring that I fell in love with and so I put it on layaway, feeling guilty as I was supposed to be saving up for a move out of state. I made that move just fine minus a couple hundred dollars, and I still have the ring!

The Yak reminds me of my mother because we often went there together. For many years it was a destination on either my birthday or hers. Lunch and then The Yak where we looked at the jewelry, picked up beeswax candles and other small treats. When I visit there now by myself, I sense her presence next to me.

There are fewer and fewer stores like The Yak. The modern world is edging out such places of magic and charm. What will be left? Amazon. Walmart. Target. Corporate big box stores with no soul. So it’s important to support the shops that are still here – Lacis, Stone Mountain and Daughter for fabric and notions, Bills Trading Post for Native American jewelry, Elmwood Stationers, are a few I can think of in the East Bay.

The Yak is still here too, until the end of June.

Read Full Post »

… I’m increasingly convinced that fashion must maintain an aspirational aspect of an emotional desire. It’s like with a Ferrari – I order it and I get it 12 or 24 months later because it is unique and special.

– Raffaello Napoleone, Chief executive officer, Pitti Immagine Uomo

Who remembers layaway? Ah yes, there is something wonderful and expensive that you must have but cannot afford all at once. You put some money down on it and the shop puts it aside. Pay a little at a time as you can and then a few months later it’s yours. While waiting you think about it and ponder how to wear it or use it.

img_20160928_195235Years ago I put an expensive pair of earrings on layaway at Tail of the Yak in Berkeley. Sure, I could have just charged them on a credit card but I wanted to wait and pay with cash. I planned it so my third and last payment landed on my birthday. It was a present from me to me. Well, kind of.

All part of my birthday celebration, Mom and I had lunch and then headed over to Tail of Yak to pick up my earrings. After waiting months, it felt like a big-deal moment and look –  I still remember it! Add to that, Mom made the final payment.

I love those earrings because not only are they unique and special but they come with a fond memory.

Read Full Post »