oakland gets hip

There is change afoot in Oakland, CA. Still a bit down and dirty, seedy even, pockets of hipness are springing up well beyond gentrified Rockridge — from Downtown all along Telegragh Avenue. Two stops not to miss . . .

Stop 1: Umami Mart, 815 Broadway


On one hand I always wonder how small little businesses with inexpensive and limited stock in a destination location stay afloat. But on the other hand, I’m always so excited to see young entrepreneurs follow their dream and offer up something unique. Umami Mart is exactly that shop. Specializing in Japanese foods, bar and kitchen wares, it has a hip vibe, in a downtown location and is celebrating its one year anniversary. I spent a whopping $21 on a salt box by Bee Hive Ceramics. And if you want some Japanese crackers, chocolates or condiments it’s the place to come. Cute prints are a highlight as well.

Stop 2: Temescal Alley, 49th and Telegragh Avenue

Temescal Alley

Probably not what the young businesses in this two lane alleyway want to hear, but Temescal Alley is as cute as it gets. Literally an alley behind Telegragh Avenue (think hidden, corrugated metal, converted garage/studios, etc . . .) it is populated by tiny shops ranging from the old fashioned barber, to coffee and filled to order donuts, clothing being sewed on site, crafted jewelry, and vintage finds for mind, body and home. I immediately fell in love and thought about giving up my life to move back West and open a shop here. No spaces in the alley, however. It’s full up with a wonderful collection of little shops and I suspect interesting artisans that fit together like an odd little family. Go spend your money, eat a scrumptious donut, buy a couple pieces of art as I did and keep this place going.

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