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Friday, December 9, 2011

Popuphood Aims to Revitalize Downtown Oakland

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge Popuphood: A new spin on the pop-up phenomenon by Alfonso Dominguez and Sarah Filley.
  • Popuphood: A new spin on the pop-up phenomenon by Alfonso Dominguez and Sarah Filley.

We're pretty familiar with the concept of pop-ups here in the Bay Area. A boutique or restaurant will open up just for an evening, offering special products and deals, then disappear. It's a way for retailers to generate buzz and to test their chops before committing to opening a permanent location. But Alfonso Dominguez, co-owner of Tamarindo restaurant in downtown Oakland, has reimagined the pop-up experience. In collaboration with artist and urban planner Sarah Filley, Dominguez expanded the concept to include his whole neighborhood, inviting six new retailers to open pop-up shops in the area, rent-free for six months. Dominguez and Filley have named the project Popuphood, and they hope that it will revitalize the Old Oakland neighborhood by luring other retailers to move in as well.

The offer of six months free rent was obviously a huge temptation for the six new shops: Manifesto Bicycles, Marion and Rose's Workshop, Sticks + Stones, Piper and John General Goods, Turtle and Hare, and Crown Nine. All except one has been granted a previously empty storefront to make its own. Turtle and Hare will be located in a shipping container in a nearby parking lot. Popuphood is partially funded by Oakland's Tenant Improvement Program, but Dominguez and Filley also negotiated with property owners in the neighborhood for rent waivers in exchange for bringing in new business. Dominguez has a vested interest in the success of the project, as successful retail will bring added foot traffic to his neighborhood, and hopefully hungry diners to his restaurant.

POPUPHOOD from Eva Kolenko on Vimeo.

The idea of banding together in support of Oakland's revitalization seems to have been just as appealing to the participating businesses as the free ride. As seen in Eva Kolenko's gorgeous video above, many of the small business owners identify with the scrappy upstart vibe of the city itself. Some, like Manifesto Bicycles, already have an established local business, but for others, Crown Nine included, this will be their first time opening a store. Whether seasoned or new on the scene, everyone seems ready to share the opportunity. Kate Ellen, the owner of Crown Nine, has invited several other jewelers to share her space, and Kerri Johnson and Alissa Goss of Marion and Rose's Workshop have also invited other artisans to display work in their boutique. Sticks + Stones gallery will also support Oakland by exhibiting local artists on a rotating basis. Dominguez and Filley will put their Popuphood concept to the test today, December 9, as they celebrate the official opening with a block party. The usual Friday morning farmer's market will segue into the party at noon, and 9th Street will remain closed to traffic until 9 PM for continuing festivities. You can find The Exhibitionst on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.
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Kate Conger

Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.


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