BERKELEY, Calif.— When walking into Mars Mercantile on the corner of Channing Way and Telegraph Avenue, one is immediately immersed in the grungy, psychedelic atmosphere that seems to emanate from every square inch of the space.
The staffer who checks your bag behind the counter is dressed in edgy, alternative fashion demonstrating some of the items and styles that can be found in the two-story time capsule of fashion dating back to the 1960s all the way to the 1990s.
There is music ranging from modern pop to ’70s psychedelic rock gently blaring from the speakers nestled all around the store. The atmosphere makes time slow and immerses the customer in the culture and history of the items on display.
Though the store currently boasts only 309 followers on Instagram, it has a loyal fan base from the surrounding area on websites such as Yelp.com, where the comments are mostly positive and the store holds a rating of 4.3 / 5 stars.
Kaijah Sabbah is an employee of Mars Mercantile and has been with the store for six months. She is originally from Sonoma County, California.
Sabbah describes her time at Mars as “groovy, hella groovy,” because “it’s enough creativity that I need in my life,”she said.
She was attracted to holding a position at the store because “I always loved thrifting and get to style both people and mannequins,” she said.
Like many stores in the area, Mars Mercantile requires customers to check their bags behind the sales counter until all transactions have been completed to avoid theft. This method is surprisingly effective, she said.
In her time at the store, Sabbah has only witnessed two instances of shoplifting, one of which was a woman grabbing a wig from a mannequin and running off. The store’s employees are all equally responsible for keeping an eye on their merchandise, which the owner buys in bulk from different warehouses.
Though the store attracts a large number of clients during the summer months, business really flourishes when all the college students come back to campus. Amber Ferguson, a Las Vegas, Nevada, native and Sabbah’s co-worker behind the sales counter, said that the business really picks up in September and October when the students come in looking for new clothes for back to school.