KEEN GARAGE STEPS INTO PALO ALTO ... Look for a mid-May opening for the footwear company Keen Garage, coming to 278 University Ave. in downtown Palo Alto. Finishing touches are being put on the recently constructed building at the corner of University Avenue and Bryant Street. The original building, which once housed Noah's Bagels, was demolished to make way for the new four-story structure. Keen Garage's other three stores are in Tokyo, Toronto and its home base of Portland, Ore. The company has a commitment to sustainability. "Every store is made from locally re-harvested products. Our wood floor, for example, is made from scrap wood from local homes that have been torn down," spokeswoman Christa DePoe said. Although Keen is known for its high-quality sandals, it also has unusual socks: Each is made to fit either the left or the right foot. Pricing for the fitted socks starts at about $17, and shoes and sandals average $100 to $125, DePoe said. As for the other tenants in the building, a city permit has been issued to San Francisco-based InVitae for the second floor. InVitae is a firm of scientists, engineers and medical professionals working to make clinical genetic testing accessible and affordable. Emerson Collective has a permit for the top two floors. Little information is available about Emerson, but a Google search reveals that Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, is the founder and CEO. It's a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of under-served students and supports social entrepreneurs and organizations working in education, social justice and conservation. And it is coincidental that this is the third Keen enterprise of sorts in Palo Alto. First is City Manager James Keene , and second is High Street's Hotel Keen, which opened in 2010.
JUDAICA STORE CLOSED ... Palo Alto's only remaining Judaica store is gone. Miriam's Well, a small shop tucked inside the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center at 3921 Fabian Way, closed its doors March 10 after a three-year run. "We haven't made any plans yet for the space. Because of its central campus location, we are considering options from retail to office to exhibit space," said JCC spokesperson Mimi Sells. Meanwhile, Ellen Bob, who knows the business well (she was co-owner of the former bob and bob Fine Jewish Gifts, which was first in Palo Alto and then Los Altos), said, "It's really disappointing that the store has closed, but it's a hard business." She added, "I don't see how a retail store like that can survive in this current climate of online shopping." Bob is now executive director of Palo Alto's Congregation Etz Chayim. Bob had to close her own store in January 2009, after 26 years in business, leaving a void in the Judaica market. It was hoped that Miriam's Well would help fill that void.
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