Construction site of the new Apple store on Fourth Street: The steel structure includes a partial second floor at the back. Photo: Niclas Ericsson

By Niclas Ericsson

The Apple store that will open on Fourth Street later this year is welcomed by neighboring merchants, who are hoping it will bring more shoppers to the area. They hope it might boost the number of male customers especially, as the current selection of Fourth Street stores has more to offer female customers. The only niggling issue may be parking, said to the merchants.

“The whole street will benefit from it financially,” said Manfred Kroening, co-owner with his wife, Betty, of Bette’s Oceanview Diner of the Apple store that is being built at 1823 Fourth Street, just a stone’s throw away from the restaurant.

“The street hasn’t recovered from the downturn in the economy yet. Especially during the week, businesses are suffering,” he said.

Kroening said he had heard estimates that up to 500 people a day will visit the Apple store. He is hoping that the take-out place that the Kroenings run next to the diner, Bette’s To Go, will benefit from the increased influx of people. As for the diner, more visitors to the area will make less of a difference, he said.

“The restaurant is full most of the time anyway, and it’s an attraction in itself,” said Kroening. He added that parking might become a problem, however.

There are three parking lots along Fourth Street that offer free parking to shoppers, but, especially on weekends, they can become full. Kroening said he has seen customers go elsewhere when they cannot find a spot to park.

George Kiskaddon runs Builders Booksource, next door to the Fourth Street site where Apple will soon open a new store. Photo: Niclas Ericsson

As well as the free parking, there is metered parking along Fourth Street and on neighboring streets. There is also a commercial parking lot on Fourth Street and Hearst Avenue, opposite Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto. But, according to several merchants Berkeleyside talked to, many visitors are reluctant to pay for parking. On the Saturday Berkeleyside visited the area, the commercial parking space was half empty, while cars where circling the free parking lots waiting for a spot to open up.

George Kiskaddon who runs Builders Booksource at 1817 Fourth Street, together with his wife Sally, is uncertain of what the Apple store will mean in terms of business.

“Are Apple buyers going to shop on Fourth Street? We don’t know,” he said. He recounted a recent visit he made to the Apple store in Corte Madera. According to Kiskaddon, the Apple store was full of people — while the rest of the mall was empty.

“But [Apple] is going to bring more people to the street, and that’s great,” he said.

Builders Booksource is located directly next door to the new Apple store. Kiskaddon said he will be adding more books on graphic design and computer-aided design to his inventory in order to adjust to the new shopping crowd.

“We’re trying to anticipate what somebody that buys a Mac is going to be looking for,” he said.

At home-design store The Gardener, which faces the Apple construction site, the staff welcomed the new store — but again worried about parking.

“It’s difficult now and it’s going to be more difficult,” said staff member Gary Cliff.

Lynn Wadyka, the manager at The Gardener, said a positive outcome would be if the Apple store attracts more male shoppers to the area.

“There are a lot of clothing and make-up stores — it’s very geared towards women,” she said about the current selection of stores on Fourth Street.

Kiskaddon at Builders Booksource and the staff at The Gardener have another reason to look forward to the opening of the Apple store. The construction phase has been very noisy, they said.

“It’s always annoying being in a construction zone,” said Kiskaddon.

Although Apple has not confirmed that it is opening a store on Fourth Street, let alone when, talk on the street is that it may be completed as early as July 22.

Update, 3:45pm: On Tuesday, an Apple spokesperson returned Berkeleyside’s call. “We have made no announcement about a store in that location,” she said. When asked how long in advance Apple normally announces the opening of a new store, the spokesperson did not want to comment.

Niclas Ericsson is a columnist, novelist and freelance journalist reporting from the Bay Area for several Swedish media. He is currently interning at Berkeleyside.

Related:
Accident at Berkeley Apple store red-tags two businesses [02.22.11]
Berkeley Apple Store designs show building changes [12.3.10]
Apple store set to open on Berkeley’s Fourth Street [10.14.10]

Guest contributor

Freelance writers with story pitches can email editors@berkeleyside.com.

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8 Comments

  1. So is the presumption here that an Apple Store is going to bring in more male customers to the neighborhood? Way to go on the gender stereotyping and btw, the more immediately quantifable impact is likely  to be the mixed blessing of teenagers and students, in groups. As a former retail employee, my heart goes out to the small businesses that aren’t bracing for that impact.

  2. Apple has, in a way, officially acknowledged that they’re opening a new store on 4th st. About a month ago, I saw a Craigslist job post for multiple positions being offered at a soon-to-be-open store in Berkeley. Also, if you search Apple’s jobs webpage, they have openings available at “Berkeley – 4th st.” http://jobs.apple.com/ 

  3. Apple has, in a way, officially acknowledged that they’re opening a new store on 4th st. About a month ago, I saw a Craigslist job post for multiple positions being offered at a soon-to-be-open store in Berkeley. Also, if you search Apple’s jobs webpage, they have openings available at “Berkeley – 4th st.” http://jobs.apple.com/ 

  4. Construction was delayed over a month by the wall collapse, but crews have been working Sundays and extended hours to finish the store by its scheduled early November opening.

  5. It’s never certain what’s going to happen when
    there’s a shift in the retail environment but the synergy of shopping means stores
    in great shopping districts work together symbiotically. A big-draw destination
    store like Apple will bring tons of people to get Apple stuff. But the other
    stores will benefit particularly if those stores respond to all the folks
    coming who’ve not been there before. Fourth Street already has an excellent mix
    of food, from Bette’s to Cafe Rouge and great coffee with Peets. Retailers need
    to think how can I attract an Apple customer? Having computer books, accessories
    like padded cases, or cool messenger bags to carry your MacBook will draw
    people in. And also having places to hang out with your Mac or iPad will
    encourage more people on the street (free wifi on the street, now that would be
    a plus!)

     

    Remember shopping is a complimentary world where
    shoppers need and want related items and often related to what they already
    came to buy. Bottom line for retailers is you have to adjust to the world as
    the shopping around you changes and the customers change. Someone mentioned
    that Fourth Street is very focused on high-end women’s fashion. Apple has the
    chance of shifting this towards us guys and gals with less interest in clothes. I
    hope if anything this will balance out the type of retail in the Fourth Street
    world and all ships will rise with the retail tide.  – a retail branding
    guy’s perspective

  6. It’s kind of ridiculous that Apple won’t confirm the known fact that they’re opening a store on 4th Street.

    What a weird company they’ve turned into.

  7. Even on the weekend the lot across from Spengers always has space and if you don’t want to pay for parking you can always park across the tracks and walk a block or two.  Not to much of a burden I hope.