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08/30/17 0 MR. OAKTOWN AND OTHER DOWNTOWN STORIES

In mid-August, we immersed ourselves in all things Oakland and wanted to mention a few highlights. Rest assured, Oakland independent retailing is alive and kicking and the events we attended were very much a celebration of that fact.

First we celebrated the winners of the East Bay Express Readers’ Poll “The Best of the East Bay 2017” at 3rd Thursdays at Latham Square. We had the pleasure of meeting Mr Oaktown who greeted us with a mighty warm handshake and introduced himself simply as “Copes.” Now, Copes is a captivating storyteller and maybe a bit of a local legend. He told us some stories about the history of Oakland and explained that he is the originator of the “Oaktown” nickname for Oakland. His specialty is Oakland pride. Indeed, he has always loved Oakland, even when others did not. “Back in the day, I always told people Oakland was my home while others would only admit to living in the East Bay.” With that, we were in love and had to buy a t-shirt. Check out www.oldschoolcopes.com.

We also met Elaine Hamblin and her husband Joseph. Elaine took out a big bet on Oakland by putting her stake in the ground at 386 19th Street, a location where there is not currently an abundance of foot traffic. She intrigued us with her vision to delight and inspire her shoppers. The table chat led us to trek to her store a few days later to further investigate. We found a treasure trove of artifacts not "items." Not "products" but pieces of art. When there is a struggle to find that just-right gift for someone who is artistically and creatively inclined, a trip to Kosa Arts is a must. To see more, go to www.kosaarts.com.

Finally we talked to the proprietor of SoleSpace, Jeff Perlstein. This footwear emporium is a perennial winner of the Best of the East Bay. We have been on a special mission to find shoes that match our logo so we hoped he could help. No luck, but despite that, we now understand how they got their reputation for being an outstanding lifestyle footwear shop. They take shoe selection to an artform. If you are looking for a big box shoe retailer with “deals” on yesterday’s fashion… this is not it. SoleSpace has two stores now. One is on Telegraph Ave and the other is on Grand Ave. There is much to learn about SoleSpace at www.solespace.com. For example, did you know it is transformed into an event space at night?

On Saturday, August 18th, we attended Art + Soul Oakland for a few hours. We didn’t shop but we COULD HAVE. There were countless vendors, artisans, and artists. Instead, we enjoyed some wine and beer, basked in the perfect weather, enjoyed the live music, and just hung out. This festival is packed with entertainment. The city of Oakland, Oakland Central, and East Bay Express, among others, are doing a really good job of bringing dynamic and diverse events to Oakland for all of us to enjoy. If you missed the event this year, then please at least go to their site and start planning your calendar for next year at www.artandsouloakland.com.

Next up, Oakland First Fridays Festival on September 1st!

Tell us about your favorite Oakland events and what takes you downtown to shop and enjoy the city.

Oakland Art + Soul Festival, 3rd Thursdays at Latham Square, Oaktown

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