Once upon a time, the corner grocery store was a staple of neighborhood life. Now most of us shop in supermarkets, even in the famously gourmet East Bay. But in a tiny building in Kensington, the Colusa Market is keeping it real with fresh produce and friendly service. Ike Joh and his wife Agnes work seven days a week to keep the store running. They started stocking natural and organic products in the ’90s, before the big chains caught onto the trend. The store hasn’t given up on the basics, though, and unlike most things Kensingtonian, it’s affordable and unpretentious. Betty Crocker cake mix and instant macaroni share an aisle with seven kinds of olive oil. There’s an impressive selection of local and imported wines, along with hard-to-find products such as agave nectar and Bavarian pumpernickel bread. In the back, a butcher stocks grass-fed beef and free-range rotisserie chicken. How to stay in business at an intersection with little foot traffic, where a shop closes every few months? Ike knows his customers by name, carries a little red book to write down their requests, and hands out free pints of Ben and Jerry’s at Christmastime.
2020 Oregon St., Berkeley, 510-843-6929