Every day for the last week, people had been peeking through the windows, watching the new store rise from a pile of dust, scraps and boxes. Many of them were shocked that we were really opening on Friday, which is understandable since the bamboo floors were only installed on Friday morning. By late afternoon, the whole Oaklandish family was hustling to fold hundreds of shirts and find enough ice for the four (4!) kegs of Linden St. beer and glasses for four (4!) cases of wine from Urban Legend Cellars, Dashe Cellars, and JC cellars.
Everyone in the neighborhood was just as excited as we were — people kept poking their heads in to ask how it was going and see if they could buy shirts yet. That was the best — in the home stretch, it really helped to hear people stop by just to say “Oaklandish is opening a store? That’s so awesome. We love you guys!!”
And then it really picked up. The music started. The kegs were tapped, and the wine was flowing. People started rolling up every which way — some from BART, others on bikes, and dozens more from a mysterious vintage party bus. Some folks had heard about the party, and others were just stopping by during their Art Murmur stroll. People were standing in front of the wall of t-shirts, pointing out their favorite designs, or the hometown landmarks they recognized. Jean Quan even dropped in to raise a toast.
Then the fivetenburger truck rolled up and started slinging burgers and delicious toasty sandwiches. My friend and I shared an order of the garlic oil fries — just salty, crispy, and greasy enough to keep us fueled for the rest of the night.
It was still a little nerve-wracking, though. We’d just spent the entire day sweating over the store setup — was this huge party going to undo all of our hard work? Would we spend the rest of the week cleaning up? But there was more than enough civic pride to go around. Everyone was happy, energized, and (even with a couple of Linden Street brews in them), totally respectful of the store. No hassles. No missing shirts. Hardly even any spilled drinks. And damn, the people sure were good-looking.
There’s still work to do in Downtown Oakland. But on Friday night, this neighborhood felt full-on revitalized. It was great to be a part of it — and I’m looking forward to a year or two from now, when nights this magical happen every weekend.