Kate Ellen, Love + Metal, http://crown-nine.com
Since I opened my little jewelry store last winter, I’ve seen
so much transform and change in Oakland.
Our humble little city was mentioned as in the New York Times Top 5 Places to Visit, and it seems like the roll-call of cool new spots to see are growing monthly. Every time I cruise down Broadway I feel like I’m seeing some brand new something sparkling with the eagerness.
That being said, I know a lot about a small swath of what’s going on. I’m in Popuphood (checkout this great article by The Bold Italic to get to know our shops), but I am usually working during the same hours as many of the new retailers in the area, so I haven’t been in to see many.
All that changed on Saturday when I took the Shop Downtown Oakland map that Oaklandish/Plaid Friday printed in the East Bay Express, and did my best to hit everyone I could on the map. Here is a little photo journal of what I saw.
Hawthorn isn’t in the Downtown district, its up in Rockridge, but I’ve been aching to get there so I used it as my first stop. I have met the wonderful and friendly Laura Akita a few times in my shop—she always looked so familiar to me … turns out she modeled for one of my favorite jewelers, Voce Keen, who I carry at Crown Nine. She is the manager at the beautiful shop owned by Laurie Lion, and the face of all the goods on their recently launched online shop (so much better than amazing). I pretty much want everything in this store. Period. Boyfriend: take hint.
OWL & WOOD
Next stop, I drove and parked near Luka’s Taproom (Saturday parking is free in designated areas until the new year, thanks to the City and Mayor Quan). I crossed the street, and right near the Farley’s Parklet is this little gem. Pull on my heartstrings, right when you walk in you see this glorious image of Jimi Hendrix, my hero. Really nice collection of clogs (obsessed), some vintage finds prices really fairly, a few local designers, and a great selection of dude stuff. I saw an incredible knee length camel toned leather jacket that I just might have to go back for.
Tucked away on one of Oakland’s randomly idyllic and quaint streets is this little gallery/ retail space. Their current show featured multiple artists, like Dani Blue, interpreting Dia De Los Muertos. They have a small selection of handmade goods from local artists. Nicely priced little bags, wood boxes, and textiles were the highlight. And Ivan, one of the owners, was incredibly friendly and answered all my questions—we have a lot in common, being shops located a little off the beaten path.
Shoe Groupie is located near the cathedral building where Telegram meets Broadway, the store actually has doors on both streets. The shop is beautifully designed, really minimalist and comfortably clean. Great selection of women’s boots, and I especially liked some of the kicks for boys. They are thinking of building out a space for events and parties, all I can say is: send me an invite! They sometimes offer late night hours, which is great—nothing beats shoe shopping after having a Vampiro Taco at Xolo.
This shoe spot is right across from Feelmore and the Fox. It boasts a huge floor plan, that feels a bit empty until you realize that everything moves out of the way for big, epic parties and art openings. Really cool selection of men’s and women’s boots and shoes, and it’s great because none of the brands overlap between them and Shoe Groupie—so you are sure to find exactly what you’re looking for by hitting them both up.
This is an incredible little adult gallery. Unlike other sex positive grown up spots, Feelmore is really meant to cater to more than just women—it’s a great place for everyone. Neena is the owner, and they stay open until 1am each night. I asked if this was because she is a night-owl or if business is just better at night, and she said it’s a bit of both. A lot of people come in while out enjoying the late night activities in the Uptown, there are a bunch of great bars like Make Westing, Cafe Van Kleef (the BEST Salty Dog you’ll ever sip), and my personal favorite, Dogwood. Go have a drink, and then cross the street for some adult type fun— you can pretend you’re there to see all the great art (which it is).
At this point in my journey I was totally sidetracked—my Uncle from up north called me and asked me to show him something cool in Oakland, so I took him to Peralta Junction. Glad I did too because I think it’s closing this week. It was such a great little world they built, cool little booths with homespun art, accessories, apothecary, and carnival games. We had a bag of popcorn, walked around looking at all the oddities (including a life size version of Mousetrap!) and I just reveled in how creative a city we live in. Hats off to all the people that made this little wonder happen.
SHOW + TELL
One of my favorite spots in Oakland, located in City Center, is run by the incomparable Aaliyah and Nicole. I love this spot— not only do they have a great collection of clothing by ecologically sound brands, but they also host all kinds of fun parties, are totally into building community, and they really spread the love (many people have come into my store on their referral). I got a cute pair of Tom’s black suede wedge desert booties that I can’t take off.
This narrow little shop is right next to Disco Volante, and houses meticulously curated men’s and women’s finds—all with a sophisticated but relaxed California vibe. They have a killer selection of magazines, surfboards, sunglasses, hats and bags. Plus, the shop owners just had a baby so you’re bound to get some yummy baby time when you go in. Upstairs is the gallery space, currently housing the work of a few artists. Again, must go to a party here.
Directly next to Awaken Cafe and across from Oaklandish is Nneka and Betti Ono Gallery. The shop carries designs by the owner, Penelope, which are can be described as street wear with a classic influence. Her beautiful work is alongside a few local and conscious brands that are about style and fostering cultural understanding. The gallery is connected through a small arch and was being used as a hang out and meeting space when I was there. A really warm vibe—gallery founder Anyka Barber was positively lovely.
These guys seriously rock. Oaklandish began as a farmer’s market staple and has become a well established brand in the Bay, but they also have really become civic leaders. They coordinated all the Plaid Friday efforts which really organized the City around retail in a way I hadn’t ever seen. I cannot appreciate their efforts enough! As for the shop, they carry all kinds of clever and interesting t-shirts, apparel, accessories, and local finds that really honor Oakland as the complicated and unique place it is.
Last stop happened completely by accident. My beau and I went to the Grand Lake Theatre to see Lincoln, but it was sold out. I hadn’t had a chance to get to Oak Common before and I saw they still had their lights on, so we crossed the street to check it out. First, the store looks impeccable. Second, they have two shop dogs, one of which was a black teacup Chihuahua named Lola that I pretty need to steal. And the clothing, both men’s and women’s were super cute and very reasonably priced. They had Cheap Monday jeans, MinkPink, BB Dakota and Life After Denim—some southwestern prints, demin button ups, some apothecary and candles, and plenty of warm jackets. So glad I made it.
Boot and Shoe Service for a cocktail and a slice of Margerita di Bufelo. I had such a great time meeting all the store owners, seeing all the creative things people in our City are doing. And I also think it’s important to point out that everything is so condensed that I was able to walk almost all of it (or for those that want to rest, the Free B Shuttle runs all the time and is free!).
And, moreover, it’s totally possible to shop local, to put your money where your heart is, and NOT break the bank. It really is a myth that you can’t shop local without spending a fortune. Well done Oakland, well done.
L O V E + M E T A L
Kate Ellen , Crown Nine
Cross posted from http://crown-nine.tumblr.com/post/36687631029/oakland-shop-local-love
Editor's Note: Oakland Local is all about supporting local entrepreneurship, innovation and equity in Oakland, CA. We'd love to hear about shops, projects and people we should write about, and we welcome local bloggers, photogs and cross-posters from other sites. Get in touch with email@example.com