downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — old oakland

Back in Black

November 25, 2011

Downtown Oakland’s independent merchants have come through an extraordinarily difficult several weeks. While not everyone will fully weather the storm, and not all the damage has been done, choosing to do a little more shopping downtown can go a long way toward maintaining the DTO’s positive momentum. Pro tip: wear some plaid for surprise discounts!

In addition to scattered discounts for plaid-wearing local shoppers, several stores are offering discounts and promotions today. Farley’s East (31 Grand Ave) will give a 10% discount to everyone who shopped at a local independent retailer – show your receipt to get your discount. Oaklandish customers spending over $75 will get a free classic T-shirt (1440 Broadway), and a discount from Fivetenburger’s truck parked outside. Last but not least, EntreZ Open House, a store selling gifts and home furnishings in Uptown, will have a raffle for today’s customers. The store is definitely a must-see this holiday season, as it has been a retailing pioneer but is nearing the end of its lease.

Old Oakland’s Pop Up Hood, an ambitious attempt to seed a thriving retail district in what is arguably downtown’s most suitable shopping corridor, officially begins on December 5 but several shops are already open for business. Check out Manifesto Bicycles (831 Broadway), Marion and Rose’s Workshop (416 9th St) and Sticks + Stones Gallery (815 Broadway), housed in some of the oldest buildings in the Bay Area. Nearby, the Bookmark Bookstore (721 Washington) is offering discounts today.

Blackout Oakland, an anti-corporate local shopping celebration, combines an artisans’ fair and local shopping promotion with a heavy dose of radical rhetoric. Nonetheless it should be a fun and crime-free event at Frank Ogawa Plaza this afternoon.

In a similar vein, the Catholic Church is sponsoring a fair trade holiday market with free hot cider at the Cathedral Plaza (2121 Harrison at Grand). Ad while you’re downtown, don’t forget about the charming shops of 17th Street, and Chinatown’s unique gift selections centered on 10th and Webster.

Last Looks

Two art exhibitions worthy of a look are up for one last week in Uptown. Machine Language, mixed-media collages depicting Oakland scenery as urban robotics, is at Era (21 Grand) for one more week. A selection of Day of the Dead-inspired ofrendas at SMSHBX / Betti Ono (1804 Telegraph) will hang only for this weekend.

Shopping Indie in the City

For Oakland to get back some of its tax revenues lost to Occupy-related business loss and security expenses, shopping across the city needs to get a healthy bump for the City to see a significant rise in tax revenues. Fortunately, local indie merchant collaborative Oakland Grown is offering an easy gift solution – a gift card redeemable at numerous local businesses. Check out for a list of participating stores.

And the started-in-Oakland tradition of Plaid Friday is encouraging merchants throughout the city to offer discounts and promotions today and through the weekend. See a full list of Plaid Friday deals at

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Changing cities through beauty, not vandalism

November 4, 2011

First Friday comes to a downtown somewhat beaten down after events of the past week. From transit suspensions to vandalism, Wednesday was a rough day, and Wednesday night even worse. Yet the resolve of downtown business owners who were left to defend their property without police protection appears, at least from Facebook, to be an inspiration to everyone – workers and residents alike -working to build a brighter urban core. Today is an opportunity to ponder and participate in the shaping of a community through art and culture, instead of vandalism and confrontation.

This First Friday continues Oakland’s years-long celebration of the arts. The Art Murmur experiments with a slightly different format today, with a large-scale art installation replacing crafts vendors on 23rd Street. Surrounding galleries are open, as always: one highlight is Barely There: When Less is More, a multimedia exhibition from multiple artists at SLATE Contemporary, 473 25th St. See the official Art Murmur map for a full listing of galleries. If you miss the crafts vendors, check out the Firehouse Collective on 24th St.

Era Artbar’s gallery hosts the debut of Machine Language, a collage installation by local artist, architect and DJ Daniel Backman, based on his photography in and around Oakland. He states, “I have dismantled these images of urban infrastructure and reassembled them into six abstract yet figural compositions. These alien machines devour the urban fabric of Oakland and incorporate its contents into their intricate and monstrous bodies. These new works will be shown alongside my previous series, Space/Shift and enGulfed. Together, these collages comprise a grand narrative about the future of our cities and the challenges they face.” Perhaps given more meaning by this week’s tussles, Machine Language will be displayed at Era (19 Grand Ave) through the end of the month.

ProArts Gallery holds its annual Box Art Benefit Auction, whose proceeds go to support their mission of advocating for artists and providing arts programs in schools.

Starting today and going through Tuesday, the California Food Justice Conference is held in downtown Oakland, with seminars, workshops and charity events focused around access to healthy food. Today’s events include a film screening at the Oakland Marriott, and an arts and community event on Telegraph at 17th from 8 to 10pm. The conference schedule is found here.

The Oaklandish Store (1444 Broadway) hosts its final First Friday party of the year, featuring MCs and singers from Earshot Entertainment. Visiting Oaklandish is a great opportunity to patronize the OakCollectiv across the street, which was vandalized and looted despite supporting Wednesday’s protest.

Old Oakland impresario Alfonso Dominguez partnered with Sarah Tilly and worked with landlord Peter Sullivan to bring several “pop-up” retail shops to the area around Ninth and Washington, to incubate retail in this promising district. Manifesto Bicycles is one of many retailers participating in a six-month experiment to forge a new retail identity for downtown. The “Pop Up Hood” has is grand opening on December 9th, just in time for the holidays.

Whether you’re fighting for food justice, indulging the life of the asthete, or building community organizations, there’s something for you to participate in downtown this First Friday. See you on 23rd Street!