There are three stores that have greatly contributed to my love of local shopping and my localist mindset. I would even say that they are the inspirations for the development of LOCALMOTIV.
A LITTLE BOUTIQUE IN TORONTO
The first store, I won’t spend too much time on because it is a little clothing boutique in Toronto, Ontario Canada – where I had lived prior to moving to California. But, I started shopping at BodyBlue sometime around 1997. Often when I visit Toronto, I go back to BodyBlue to refresh my wardrobe. Sam has known me all that time and has come to know all my family, many friends, and even a few exes. Friends will ask “where did you get that?” thinking this or that article of clothing is from some cool place in San Francisco but it is almost always from BodyBlue. They have great stuff, they know my style, and they know how to gently get me to try something new and different. It is always an outstanding experience. I think of BodyBlue as the store that made me realize how essential and unique local shopping truly is.
And I am now on a mission to find a store or even stores just like that here in Oakland. I see potential with Maple Street Denim, McMullen, and Dandelion Post which are always ranked among the best stores in Oakland.
Best wine store in Oakland?
At least one of them… I have been going to the second store since about 2004. Jeff Diamond opened his first Farmstead Cheeses and Wines store in Alameda and I stumbled upon it sometime soon after it first opened. I go there for all my cheese and wine needs. I call him my “wine dealer” because he hooks me up with just what I need and even more. I moved to the Montclair neighborhood in Oakland, in 2010 and lucky for me, he had already opened a store there too.
And it is the kind of local store that I cannot complain about being too expensive – a common complaint about shopping local. I have compared prices on the internet and at other retailers and have found Jeff’s prices usually beat any competition. But more importantly, he has all price ranges for all tastes. I am not quite sure how he does it but if you are going to spend around $10 for a bottle of wine, it will be the best $10ish bottle that you will ever find. And it just gets better from there if you can afford to invest a few more bucks in a bottle. In my opinion, he has the best of the best at every price point, in every varietal. It is a crazy good place to buy wine.
Did I mention the cheese? I am no expert on cheese… but all I have to do is go there and chat with a knowledgeable staff member who will always guide me to fantastic choices just by getting an understanding of my tastes and purchase history. And I can sample until I find just the right cheese for the occasion.
I might not be the most dynamic party-goer but when invited to a get together everybody typically enjoys my wine and cheese selections.
These two stores epitomize my love of local. I know the owners and they know me, my family, and friends. Importantly, they have unique selections and expert staff that often delight me with recommendations I would not have considered.
THE REASON FOR LOCALMOTIV
The final store is also in Montclair and the story is a little different. I have actually only ever bought one item there but more purchases are forthcoming. Someone’s in the Kitchen is the reason I came up with LOCALMOTIV. Here is what went down. Sometime in late 2015 and early 2016 I went on a bit of a shopping spree. There were some things that I had needed to upgrade my kitchen gadgets and tools. I wanted a new Chef knife, coffee maker, cutting board, frying pans, a pepper grinder, dutch oven, etc. Over a period of a couple of weeks, I researched the items that I wanted and bought everything online even though I knew there was this amazing little store not much more than 1.5 miles from my house. A lot of it came from amazon. I found amazon to be the same old unsatisfactory shopping experience. I felt guilty, I should have gone down the street.
Since that time, I have come to believe that Someone’s in the Kitchen might be the best kitchen store in Oakland when it comes to high quality gadgets and an extensive inventory of the best manufacturers.
So why didn’t I shop down the street in the first place? As I tried to answer that question, I came up with the solution: LOCALMOTIV. Once up and running, LOCALMOTIV will help all of us localists. But you will just have to wait for more information on that topic.
For me, I am always in search of these types of local independent merchants. When I find them, I will probably become a loyal customer.
LOCALMOTIV would love to know what you think are the best stores in Oakland so we can explore them too. Please share with us your local shopping experiences.