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A different way to shop on Black Friday...

What? We are writing about shopping on Thanksgiving weekend already? Yes. Yes we are. Believe it or not, Oakland’s local, independent retailers are already in the planning phases to deliver a dynamic shopping event on this most sacred shopping weekend. And we want to tell you about it!

On Tuesday, August 22, we attended the Plaid Friday Weekend kick off event sponsored by Townsquared Oakland and Oakland Grown at Parliament in Old Oakland. This event was not opened to the public, but it gave us a preview to what is to come for Plaid Friday Weekend, which will fall on the weekend of November 24, 2017. There was a lot of infectious excitement and positivity and Parliament sure knows how to host a party. The momentum is already building. Our local retailers are gearing up to launch a Plaid Friday Weekend to remember!

So What is Plaid Friday Weekend?

The Plaid Friday concept was brought to life in Oakland by Kerri Johnson, owner of Marion + Rose Fine Goods, a lifestyle boutique dedicated to the pursuit of "comfort, craftsmanship and love." Her campaign was so successful that it expanded into "Plaid Friday Weekend" with campaigns organized in cities throughout the United States. The goal is to continually raise awareness and inspire people to shop locally rather than at the usual big box and e-commerce retailers.

"The Plaid theme represents the weaving together of Oakland's creative and diverse community of small business owners, their shops and products, to create a strong and beautiful fabric.”

Oakland Grown
It is indeed an impressive accomplishment when independent merchants -- perhaps best described as “lone wolves” -- can come together to forge a compelling shopping extravaganza. So far, we know that retailers will extend their hours and have special offers and sales. There will be plenty of holiday celebrations, live entertainment, and other events also on the agenda. Rest assured, Oakland will also be positively buzzing.

Plaid Friday Weekend is Fun Shopping not Chore Shopping

And that endeavor is important for shoppers like us. It represents a day and weekend when we can actually enjoy shopping. First, we are not going to line up at a big box retailer at 4:00 a.m. only to discover that we are already very tardy. We are not going to battle crowds. We are not going to search endlessly for items that are misplaced in the ransacked stores. We are not going to stand in lines again at checkout.

No, we are going to sleep in and get the proper rest needed to recover from the Thanksgiving dinner frenzy. Then we will head out with family and friends to leisurely shop in any number of Oakland neighborhoods. This is the optimal time to shop for those hard-to-buy-for friends, relatives, and their kids. You know the ones, right? You end up buying them "generic" scarves, soaps, kitchen gadgets, and other assorted knick knacks in a last minute purchase. All can be great gifts, of course, but sometimes the process just doesn't feel personal and thoughtful enough. You say to yourself, “if I just had more time, I could have found something that felt just a little more meaningful… oh well, next time.”

Stressful Shopping Transformed

But now, the scarf might be a one-of-a-kind handmade silk scarf carefully chosen from Mix Shade Store & More in Montclair Village. While in the area, you might as well head down to Montclair Toyhouse to buy a bounty of presents to spoil your nieces and nephews. This store is a surprising and nostalgic journey back in time with a treasure trove of games, toys, puzzles, and hobbies. Toy stores like this, sadly, are a rarity now.

Or maybe you find yourself shopping in Old Oakland and you stumble upon a cache of curated glassware at Umami Mart, perfect for “Aunty Ellen” who loves all things Japanese. Maybe you are on a mission to find a special piece of jewelry for a significant someone. In that case, you might find yourself in Temescal Alley at Esqueleto, consulting with owner and jewelry designer Lauren Wolf. And the icing on the cake? No doubt, you will find something for yourself, like a new holiday outfit or two that you discover while browsing at a clothing boutique in Downtown, Uptown, or Rockridge.

Wherever you go, it is going to be an adventure. Success will be measured by how many unique, artisan, unusual, truly thoughtful gifts that you proudly found for your loved ones. The bargain hunter in you will also be happy that some real deals were secured as well.

We envision a fun weekend not a chore weekend! Dare we say that it will be a better experience than San Francisco’s Union Square? There, we said it.

Please share your local shopping experiences with us. We would love to know your thoughts on Plaid Friday Weekend and what your plans are to accomplish your Holiday shopping locally.

If you have a favorite neighborhood and/store(s) that you would like us to write about, let us know!

Plaid Friday Weekend, Montclair Toyhouse, Umami Mart, Oakland Grown, Townsquared, Mix Shade Store & More, Temescal Alley, Esqueleto

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