In business: Shady Lane moves to Menlo Park


After 40 years on University Avenue in Palo Alto, the eclectic Shady Lane gift shop and boutique is moving to a new home in Menlo Park.

"It was a door that opened in an octagonal building," said owner Alice Deutscher about her shop's upcoming transfer to the Sharon Heights shopping center. "Going from a known to an unknown is always challenging for a business owner. But it seems right in my heart."

The move comes in the wake of a changing economy and a changing downtown Palo Alto. The landlord wants to tear down the building that currently houses Shady Lane (at 441 University Ave. near Waverley Street) to make room for a new two-story structure with underground parking. And keeping up with rent is always a challenge for a small business owner.

"It's not easy. Our kind of store -- gift shops in general -- have a tough go of it. People will mention some of their favorite shops that have closed and I know how hard it is. I'm in there six days a week to make sure things are running smoothly, to greet customers, to remember what they bought before, to make special orders," Ms. Deutscher said.

An artist who made a living at craft fairs for 20 years by creating batik clothing, Ms. Deutscher and her husband forged deep connections with the local artisan community, links that extended into Shady Lane when the couple opened the shop. Developer Roxy Rapp helped it get off the ground in 1975, giving the store a prime location on University Avenue, she said.

"We tore down a house that was going to be destroyed for the wood, and built the first store from recycled wood before it was trendy. We had a winding brick pathway -- that was our 'lane.' And we had hanging plants, that was our 'shade,'" Ms. Deutscher said, explaining how Shady Lane got its name.

In looking for a new location recently, she initially explored options in the same neighborhood. "I have customers now in their 30s, 40s, 50s who have always known Shady Lane on University Avenue and have a history of going there with their moms, and now come in with their children," she said. "That's what having a heritage is like. I'm happy that we're able to continue our business, but a little bit sad that we won't be on University Avenue."

Still, Menlo Park beckons. The new store will be slightly smaller than the current location's 1,000 square feet, with more parking and easier access to the highways for out-of-town customers. The courtyard in front of the shop is framed by trees, and has enough space for Shady Lane to host 10 artisan events a year, "which is pretty darn wonderful," Ms. Deutscher said.

Shady Lane is expected to open in the Sharon Heights center in early March.

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34 people like this
Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2015 at 9:08 am

I love Shady Lane and am so happy it is moving rather than closing. Its departure is one more reason for me to stay away from University Avenue.

34 people like this
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 18, 2015 at 10:42 am

The very last reason I had to go downtown is now gone. I've lived in Palo Alto for 41 years and have been a customer of Shady Lane since they were next door to The Habit. To the greedy grasping landlords of downtown Palo Alto all I can say is that I hope you get hit hard in the next recession. I hope every dirty penny your excessive greed has made for you now will be lost ten times over when this bubble bursts. Downtown Palo Alto has become generic and has lost its soul.

34 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 18, 2015 at 11:14 am

Thank you Shady Lane for bringing art and beauty to our town for so many decades! It is so sad to see yet another older business leave. The developers, landlords and powers that be have destroyed the service and creative businesses on University Ave to give way to offices, tech dollars, while filling their guts with the endless food of overpriced restaurants. I say enough is enough but the street is already ravaged by the greed that has been born out of profits from a true entrepreneurial spirit that existed. Now we import young folks to sit in garages for 6 months to make a strike or be sent back from whence they came contributing to the transitory and heartless town Palo Alto has become.

The city councils and committee's are now being stacked by younger rich developers by the older rich ones, so we can expect more of the disintegration of Palo Alto, voting out those who proposed a more rational and factual approach to overbuilding and traffic (ie Arthur Keller) We will have only the well endowed, as the middle classes, elderly, disabled, fire and police have no place here. Watch out California Ave( which has already started off badly) and Middlefield Road here they come!

Additionally, the tech dollars and other out of towners who buy houses of Palo Alto are now complaining about their high property taxes after being able to spend millions on our overpriced houses. They are the proponents of revising or doing away with Prop 13, complaining that seniors should not receive some concessions for schools taxes charging we do not care about the schools.

So this city is moving toward a town filled with restaurants, offices, and housing only the privileged can afford and in the process are making it an unlivable and unaffordable city for those of us who have lived here for decades and were instrumental in so many good things that have made Palo Alto what it was.

12 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Shady Lane was my "go to" place for gifts. My daughter-in-law and granddaughter were always overjoyed at the unique jewelry they received for birthdays and Christmas. And, if a friend had a birthday, you could just head right to Shady Lane and there would be something interesting. There was a good range of prices as well.

Doubt I'll go to Menlo Park.

Yes, downtown Palo Alto has fewer and fewer options. I won't say Shady Lane was the end of my downtown shopping. I still go to Letter Perfect for cards. It's really said Shady Lane had to leave.

6 people like this
Posted by Carla
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2015 at 12:32 pm

Carla is a registered user.

I love Shady Lane and Alice, but the people making negative comments about downtown Palo Alto need to grow up. Everything changes: life, you, inflation, rents. Everything has a lifecycle. We're moving into a new age. Let that be.

34 people like this
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 18, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Well, there goes the heart of University Ave. What a sad loss for Palo Alto. I'm just happy Shady Lane will be close by in Menlo Park. And speaking of "pretty darn wonderful," that describes the lovely and kind Alice perfectly. I wish her all the best and look forward to visiting the new location.

30 people like this
Posted by dreaming
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2015 at 5:01 pm

So Shady Lane gets redeveloped out of Downtown Palo Alto and The
Cheesecake Factory down the street stays. I just had a dream it was
the other way around.

21 people like this
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Feb 18, 2015 at 6:50 pm

The heart and soul is being yanked out of downtown Palo Alto. Big mistake! Makes me mad. Shady Lane is the best for unique gifts. Will follow it to Menlo, but just not as often.

22 people like this
Posted by dreaming
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2015 at 7:41 pm

With all this revenue pouring in, the City could have bought or leased the Varsity Theatre across the street and turned it into an "artifactory" as once existed on Hamilton Ave as a venue for local artist studios and sales anchored by Shady Lane, to support the arts, and provide a retail use for the Theatre.

22 people like this
Posted by Disguisted
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 18, 2015 at 8:02 pm

Downtown Palo Alto will soon be nothing but ugly, flat roofed, glass office buildings, with unshaven techies wondering around at lunchtime, hoping to become the next Steve Jobs. Most of the techies will fail and soon realize they will never be able to afford to live here and raise a family. They will move away. Within 10 years most of the houses will be owned by foreigners. Foreigners often buy homes in PA, and then leave them vacant. Palo Alto real estate is just a place for them to park their money. The vacant houses become rundown, with minimal landscaping. They become empty, soulless houses for the neighbors to endure. Alternately, the houses become rentals, and again, become rundown.

1 person likes this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2015 at 8:22 pm


The amount of hate shown to young people here is shocking. If they don't make enough to live herw they're entitled and if they do, it's their money ruining Palo Alto. Who do you expect to move here after you? Prices have gotten to the point (as if its "greedy developers" or landlords selling tiny houses for 5 million) where you surely can't believe the vast majority of your own children will never be able to live here.

24 people like this
Posted by So Sad
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 18, 2015 at 10:49 pm

Palo Alto's loss is Menlo Park's gain. Palo Alto gets more stupid little techy wannabees while Menlo Park gains a truly wonderful and unique experience.

Stupid Palo Alto.

19 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 19, 2015 at 11:38 am

With Shady Lane's departure, University Avenue is losing a very special gift store with beautiful, locally made, quality products and excellent, highly personal, service.

Shopping at Shady Lane gives you a unique and happy experience. It is truly a social engagement, which is becoming quite rare these days, despite all the attention on social media.

University Avenue is a prime location in Palo Alto that should reflect a healthy balance of businesses, not just offices and restaurants that come and go.

Shady Lane, with forty years of history in Palo Alto, deserves special recognition, and I hope the City recognizes that.

What can we do to bring Shady Lane back to Palo Alto?

Like this comment
Posted by nice but overpriced
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2015 at 12:18 am

I visited Shady Lane once and was impressed with the quality of the merchandise. However, I thought it was very overpriced and didn't buy anything. IMO, there are much better and affordable options in SF and MV.

18 people like this
Posted by Old but wise
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 20, 2015 at 11:14 am

I have shopped at Shady lane for 40 daughter worked there, and her friends . I have bought every peice of jewelry I needed there, and never taken anything back or been unsatisfied. Its lovely knowing you have the only piece of jewelry like this, because its handmade.
Unfortunately its moving to Sharon Heights and there is no bus that goes there. I wish they had moved to the center of Meno Park. Luckilly I do not need so much of this kind of gift so i will get a friend to take me there and buy some gift certificates to encourage others who drive to take the trip out to a wonderful store. Thank you Alice

19 people like this
Posted by Sandra Farrell
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2015 at 11:41 am

I have been a customer of Shady Lane since it opened where Chico's is now on the corner of University and Waverley in 1975. Though I live in the East Bay, my work brings me to Palo Alto on a regular basis and I always check Shady Lane out when I'm there. I understand that the new building replacing Shady Lane's current location at 441 is going to be 4 stories and not 2 stories as was reported in one of the local newsletters. It looks to be yet another glass and steel box. There seems to be no room for a heritage business such as Shady Lane that provides beautiful, hand made items and provides a place for local artisans to sell their work in downtown Palo Alto. How sad. I will also follow Alice to Menlo Park to the really sweet little octagonal building in Sharon Heights. It's worth it. I always find the most beautiful and affordable gifts there.

10 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 21, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I'm very excited about this and so is my family. We'll continue to shop here, and since it'll be in my county I'll shop here even more.

13 people like this
Posted by Raquel Rossman
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2015 at 11:27 pm

Shady Lane Boutique is such a beautiful store with so many varieties of jewelry, woodwork, pottery, glass art, textiles, and all at a very affordable price. I bought a beautiful pair of earrings from them and my daughter loved them.
I also enjoy going there because customer service is very nice. They make you feel special.
I definitely look forward to seeing them in Menlo Park. Customer forever!

I must say Palo Alto is definitely loosing an amazing, one of kind boutique!

4 people like this
Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Dear Old - of course there's a bus that goes there. You take the P shuttle from CalTrain station, then from Hoover Tower you take the SLAC shuttle, which stops on Sand Hill in front of the shopping center.

16 people like this
Posted by Kristine Krozek
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 26, 2015 at 10:27 am

I am sad that Shady Lane has had to move to Menlo Park because its departure makes a walk down University Avenue less appealing; it was always a stop on a downtown stroll. But I am also grateful that Shady Lane will continue to operate and Menlo Park is, by no means too far to go, to visit a shop where you can always be sure to find something beautiful and unique to give as a gift. Rarely, if ever, have I left Shady Lane empty-handed. Shady Lane's departure from Palo Alto is downtown Palo Alto's loss and Menlo Park's gain. I will definitely continue to be a devoted customer of the wonderful Shady Lane.

13 people like this
Posted by kiyomi
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Shady Lane is my all time favorite place, there's something truly magical about it (and Alice as well!). I've been going there for over 20 years. It will be sad to pass by the former location on University and not see it there anymore, but I'm really excited to visit the new location :-)

14 people like this
Posted by Diana
a resident of another community
on Feb 26, 2015 at 3:13 pm

I was sad to hear that Shady Lane has closed up shop in Downtown Palo Alto. I "found" Shady Lane a few years ago when searching for a particular type of jewelry that can only be found locally at SL. I live in the South Bay and make the trip to SL frequently. Through Alice and her charming store, I discovered the joys of downtown Palo Alto and expanded my visits to include eating and shopping in other stores. I may not venture downtown again but I will most definitely follow Alice to her new location; unlike another commentary I find her prices very reasonable and her selection second to none. Best wishes to Shady Lane as they start a new chapter!

14 people like this
Posted by DyanB
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 26, 2015 at 8:05 pm

I've been shopping at Shady Lane for over 25 years now and I will be following it to its new location in Menlo Park. The soul of downtown Palo Alto has been being chipped away at for years now, but with Shady Lane gone, I won't be going back to Palo Alto any time soon, if at all.

6 people like this
Posted by Lisa Karpinski
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 27, 2015 at 11:25 pm

I love the way that Shady Lane has become a unique place filled with artisenal crafts supporting local and far-away artists. I have always felt at home there, and a warmth and sense of loving kindness permeates its walls. May the new location in Sharon Heights attract new customers and bring beauty and joy to the surrounding shops and neighborhoods. I will always think of the mountain lion and her cub when I go to Shady Lane, and my friend Jan Davis Morgan, a beautiful soul who loved and fought for Shady Lane and is no longer on the planet. She would be glad to know that the store found new roots. May you blossom!

8 people like this
Posted by Toby
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 2, 2015 at 10:30 am

I've lived in Palo Alto for over 15 years, and one of the highlights when family came to visit was stopping by Shady Lane (not to mention all my own little side-trips there). While I'll still enjoy shopping there - thank goodness it's not closing for good! - it will definitely reduce my desire to visit downtown Palo Alto. So disappointed that this city with so much potential is thinking so short term and not focusing on the things that made it a fun, unique, and beautiful place to visit.

5 people like this
Posted by Peter Schneider
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2015 at 9:26 pm

Whoa! Easy with those pitchforks and torches folks!

Three and one half miles up the road, to a quite shady corner with parking galore, groceries and hot coffee.

That is the level of our tragedy. - We will be OK.

This lovely merchant could have moved anywhere on Earth and I'm sure she would do quite well there.

But she is staying here, three and one half miles up the road. YEAH !! The news is good !!

We have but to re-find our lost treasure chest where it is newly laid.

I know this new location just got a whole lot cooler, and downtown P.A. just lost a big part of it's cool.

I also know I will find it again - There is literally no choice - See you there.

………Take the pitchforks back to the compost piles, the landlords aren't listening anyway.

I'm just sayin'

7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 3, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Lets not pretend that Shady Lane had to leave because it wanted a new start. It's because of the landlord and excessive rent.

4 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2015 at 10:20 am

I've moved over 300 miles away, but I still want to keep contact with Alice and Shady Lane. I've loved everything I've gotten there, and have turned on friends to the store, and they all love it too. May good fortune await you in Menlo Park!

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