The inside of Mischief, a shop in the Laurel district. Credit: Amir Aziz

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Editor’s Note [Dec. 16, 2020]: When we published this gift guide last week, we also asked readers and local small business owners to chime in with additional recommendations for the list. We received more than a few, and here they are:

North Oakland: If you’re looking for crystals, candles, or other spiritual supplies, Sagrada at 4926 Telegraph Avenue has you covered. They also sell an assortment of books, jewelry, and other gifts. Also in Temescal at 470 49th St., Crimson Horticultural Rarities offers an array of rare indoor plants, botanicals, and related gifts. They have a second location as well, at 4268 Piedmont Ave. If you’re looking for something more sporty, Transports at 6014 College Ave. in Rockridge has been supplying Oakland runners and swimmers with gear since 1982.

West Oakland: For the green thumbs in your life, be sure to also check out Blk Girls Green House on 1700 Center St., a brand new Black women-owned shop selling plants, curated home goods, and even locally produced clothing. When you’re finished there, you can head down to Re-Up Refill Shop at 2311 Magnolia St. to restock or pick up some eco-friendly kitchen, cleaning, and bath products.

Lake Merritt: If you want to stick with the zero-waste gift theme, you can stop by MudLab at 440 Grand Ave. The cafe and grocery store is committed to sustainability and works with other Oakland businesses to reduce waste and improve working conditions. They also sell used books, clothing, and other recycled items.

East Oakland: Yet another values-driven nursery, The Tender Gardener at 1326 E 23rd St., is offering free delivery on purchases across the Bay. If that weren’t enough of an incentive, the shop also donates a portion of its proceeds to local community service organizations.

Downtown/Uptown: If you’re on the hunt for locally made threads, Field Day & Friends awaits at 329 19th St. The store is the flagship for Oakland-made clothing line Field Day Apparel. The shop carries other independent clothing brands too, all U.S.-made. Lastly, if you’d like to support local artists and art galleries, you may want to consider paying a visit to 23rd, 25th, and 26th streets in the Uptown area, where there are a cluster of local galleries including Manna Gallery at 473 25th St.

Enjoy the rest of the guide!

The pandemic is getting worse and we all have to hunker down into another period of social distancing for the holidays, but that doesn’t mean we can’t show love for our friends and family while supporting a local business. We’ve put together a short list of shops that may or may not already be on your radar—and is by no means comprehensive!—and links to more guides from neighborhood associations. We also included a few local online entrepreneurs who don’t have a brick-and-mortar storefront.

If you choose to shop in person, please keep in mind that Alameda County’s shelter-in-place order limits retailers to operating at 20% capacity. You also need to wear a mask at all times, and it’s probably helpful to carry hand sanitizer. The order remains in effect until Jan. 4, 2021.

Before we get to our list, we want you to know about some other useful guides and directories for more ideas. The Rockridge District Association has created a comprehensive shopping and dining guide. The Unity Council has a Fruitvale Business Directory that includes shops in the commercial corridors of International Boulevard, Fruitvale Avenue, and Foothill Boulevard. The Laurel District, a popular hub for shoppers, also has a guide. The Chinatown Chamber of Commerce created a comprehensive list of places to shop. The Lakeshore Avenue Business Improvement District is running a campaign called “Holiday Lakeshore Love”. And of course Temescal has a directory.

Several other useful local business directories are Local Motiv, Keep Oakland Alive, and Shop Oakland Now. Local Motiv features shops throughout Oakland. Keep Oakland Alive isn’t just a list of local stores—you can also order through it and get delivery. And Shop Oakland Now, created by Main Street Launch, includes holiday and neighborhood guides, and a gift guide for kids.

If you’re a locally owned business that’s not on this list and you want to help Oakland shoppers find you this holiday season, please drop us a line at hello@oaklandside.org! We’ll be updating this guide over the next week.

Holiday shopping in East Oakland

Cuates Western Wear in Fruitvale. Credit: Amir Aziz

Oakland’s Own, 2916 Fruitvale Ave.

This apparel shop, located right on Fruitvale Avenue, doesn’t have a highly visible sign. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see a mannequin with one of the store’s latest designs. At Oakland’s Own, you can find crewnecks, hoodies, t-shirts and more. What distinguishes this store from other Oakland-themed shops is the designs on their clothing. The team takes inspiration from well-known local signage, like the Clorox company sign, and makes it their own.

La Popular , 3610 International Blvd.

If you are interested in Mexican folk art—clothing, home decor, and trinkets—look no further. Located in the heart of Fruitvale, La Popular stocks beautiful ceramics, gorgeous dresses and clothing, dolls, shoes, jewelry, and of course, face masks.

Mischief, 3908 MacArthur Blvd.

This small shop in the Laurel District features a variety of gifts from over 100 local makers. If you are a plant parent, this is where you can find hanging planters or a giant monstera in a ceramic pot. They sell jewelry, cards, clothing, wall art, and much, much more.

Cuates Western Wear, 3550 International Blvd.

Another Fruitvale shop, Cuates specializes in cowboy apparel, including embroidered boots, fancy and practical belts, brimmed hats, jackets, and dress shirts. 

Artesania Guatelinda, 3650 International Blvd. 

This shop is where you can find handmade Guatemalan goods, everything from handbags and shoes to spices and folk art. They’ve got some of the most beautiful fabrics you’ve ever seen in stock.

A few ideas in North Oakland

The Temescal commercial corridor. Credit: Pete Rosos

1-2-3-4 Go! Records, 420 40th St., #5

This records store has remained open despite the lack of local bands touring. You can buy and sell records and purchase all kinds of merch, including t-shirts, pins, and hats. Currently, the store allows shoppers half an hour to shop inside, and if no one is in line, you can stay longer. If you’re looking for the highly-coveted “Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to You” vinyl record, they’ve got it.

African Rainbow Fashions, 787 55th St.

This Black-owned, woman-owned store has been holding strong in the same location for three decades. They carry African clothing, fabrics, jewelry, and home decor. They also carry soaps, body oils, and shea butter. As many other shops have done, African Rainbow Fashions has started selling masks, and theirs are made of mudcloth, a cotton fabric from Mali.

Nathan & Co., 4025 Piedmont Ave. and 5636 College Ave.

With two locations, this shop has a little bit of everything so you can get multiple gifts for different people. Need a holiday card that reflects what this year has been like, and our hopes for a COVID-free new year? They’ve got it. They also have tons of “I love Oakland” knickknacks and housewares like mugs and aprons. 

A Verb for Keeping Warm, 6328 San Pablo Ave.

Since the pandemic began, lots of people have taken up craftwork like sewing, knitting, and crochet. Whether you’re a newer DIY’er or have been making your own sweaters and socks for years, this shop is for you. They have a solid inventory of yarn, fabric, sewing patterns, and all other tools you need to keep knitting during these lonesome winter days.

Marcus Books, 3900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way

The Oaklandside received a warm handwritten note from the bookstore’s team reminding us that they’re open and ready to welcome shoppers looking for a great read.

The oldest Black-owned independent bookstore in America, Marcus Books celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. Recently, The Oaklandside received a warm handwritten note from the bookstore’s team reminding us that they’re open and ready to welcome shoppers looking for a great read. They’re also selling books online through Bookshop

Umami Mart, 4027 Broadway

Umami Mart, which started as a global food and travel blog and morphed into a Japanese kitchenware, bottle shop, and speciality foods store, has put together a handy holiday guide ranging from a wooden-handled spice toaster to eclectic snack packs and ceramic tea cups. Might as well throw some convenient condiments on the cart too, like this classically cute Kewpie mayo bottle.   

Old Oakland and downtown stores to check out

Famous not only for the sex toys and sex-positive items it carries, it’s also well known for its owner, Nenna Joiner, a staple of Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood. Credit: Pete Rosos

Urban Eclectics, 735 Washington St.

Located in Old Oakland, this shop lives up to its name by carrying an eclectic mix of furnishings and household items, including vintage furniture and  items sourced from Bay Area artists.

E14 Gallery, 461 9th St.

A showcase for artists of color. The name of the gallery pays homage to the street that is now officially named International Boulevard but used to be E. 14th Street. Many Oaklanders still call it “e-one-four.” The gallery describes itself as an “incubator of revolutionary consciousness,” and a place to feature work from artists who “capture the spirit of uprising, self-determination, and cultural rebellion in their work.”

Feelmore, 1703 Telegraph Ave.

Famous not only for the sex toys and sex-positive items it carries, it’s also well known for its owner, Nenna Joiner, a staple of Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood. Throughout the pandemic, Joiner has kept the store’s social media followers informed about what’s happening downtown while selling dildos, vibrators, and more. 

Street Spirit vendors

Last year, journalist and author Rick Paulas released his neo-noir novel set in Oakland, “Eastern Span.” As part of the release, he donated copies of the book to Street Spirit, the weekly newspaper serving unhoused East Bay residents, which distributed the book to homeless vendors who sell the papers on street corners throughout Oakland. For a sliding scale of $5-20, you can buy a copy of one of the books, and the vendors get to keep 100% of the sale. If you prefer to buy the book directly from the author, you can buy it for $20 using Venmo or PayPal.

Some Montclair shops for your mix

Montclair Village store fronts. Credit: Pete Rosos

A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave.

Like the name says, this is a great and good bookshop that carries lots of new fiction and nonfiction. The staff are super knowledgeable and they each maintain a handy recommendations list. A Great Good Place also runs its own Zoom book club to discuss recent releases with authors, and they’re on Bookshop.

Montclair Toyhouse, 6115 La Salle Ave.

Picture a little shop stuffed with the newest toys by all the major brands—Lego, Mattel, Hasbro, Radio Flyer—and all the brands you’ve probably never heard of, including toys from around the world. Montclair Toyhouse is one of the most lovingly curated toy shops around.

Le Bonbon, 2050 Mountain Blvd.

Chocolate is the centerpiece of this candy shop, including a giant case of truffles and sweet standard-bearers like chocolate-covered pretzels, cashew turtles, Caramellos, and almond clusters. If you’re shopping for someone who is more into gummies, they have Swedish Fish, peach rings, gummy colas, and much more. They’re happy to box your sweets and wrap it with a ribbon too.

Chinatown shops for holiday gifts

OakPo Paper Company, 321 9th St.

OakPo Paper Company carries lots of stationary, but they also sell zero-waste products like reusable plastic-free kitchen sponges, cloth towels, and face wipes. If you need to add more cloth masks to your pandemic stash, they have tons to choose from.

Wahing Trading, 371 9th St.

At this famous Chinatown store, you can find a little bit of everything. Need a backscratcher? They have it. Need Japanese-style dishware, children’s toys, housewares, or sporting goods? They have it all. One thing they don’t have: a website—but Yelp reviews speak to how much shoppers love this place.

Sasha’s House, 388 9th St., Suite 122

This clothing store has been in Chinatown’s Pacific Renaissance Plaza for over 15 years. At the shop, you can find traditional chinese clothing for women and men. All of the specialty clothing here comes from Korea, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taiwan, and Vietnam. They offer alterations on-site as well. 

House of Fortune, 1108 Franklin St. 

Owned by Chinese feng shui master Michael Chan, this store carries everything you need if you follow this interior design practice. In addition, you can also book a feng shui consultation for your home or business to help bring harmony and good vibes into the new year. 

Holiday shopping by the lake

Oaktown Spice Shop, 546 Grand Ave.

A gift card from this well-stocked spice shop will help the home cook in your life feel like a kid in a candy shop. Oaktown’s spices are hand-mixed and hand-ground, and sourced from all over the world. They recently restocked a popular popcorn topping box, spiced hot cocoa set, and chai combo. Note that it’s too late to order for gifts to ship for Christmas arrival, but store pickup is still an option.    

Urban Indigo, 3339 Lakeshore Ave.

Your quintessential “you don’t know you can’t live without it till you see it” housewares, jewelry, games, and paper goods shop, this is where you can pick up an Oakland-themed cheeseboard, a gorgeous watercolor silk mask you might actually be sad to put away someday, and retro puzzles honoring our national parks.   

Adventure Toys and Learning Center, 3291 Lakeshore Ave.

“Yup, we have puzzles!” this Lakeshore Avenue shop’s website cheerily proclaims. They’ve also curated Oakland and California themed gifts, all things mermaid and dinosaur, and stocking stuffers.  

Oakland businesses without a brick-and-mortar shop

Ojo de la Sol

Dania Cabello is the founder of this medicinal cannabis store. Her shop currently carries salve and bath salts. 

Hennything Visual

Alex Tenette is a local photographer currently selling his cityscape, landscapes, and aerial pictures of Oakland and other parts of the Bay Area. If you follow The Oaklandside on Instagram, you may have seen his photos featured in one of our Instagram stories. 

Sky Oak Company

This retailer is best known for its “Oakland Against the World” sweatshirt. They also sell lots of Oakland themed accessories like prints, mugs, and necklaces. 

Nicole Godreau Soria 

Soria is a self-taught multi-media artist currently offering free shipping for all prints on her website. 

Beija-Flor Naturals

From the founder of Concept 47, a jewelry and natural beauty products shop in Temescal that recently closed, Beija-Flor’s entire line of organic skin and haircare products is available online. 

Vavis Trenzitas

If you are looking for hand-wrapped jewelry like colorful earrings, this queer POC business is the place to find it. 

Meredith Steele

Meredith is an artist and educator. Her latest series of acrylic and watercolor paintings is called “100 Paintings of Oakland.” She is also donating 10% of all original artwork’s sale price, and five dollars for every print, to different Oakland nonprofits. 

La Tinta Art

Fernanda Martínez is the artist and muralist behind La Tinta Art. You can shop her acrylic paintings as prints, stationery, apparel, and even enamel pins. 

Iva Jewell

Named after the owner’s mother, Dionne McCray started Iva Jewell in 2018. This Black-woman owned online shop specializes in handbags and accessories. Since the pandemic began, the business also added African-style masks and head wraps made of soft cotton. McCray also put together her own “BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Gift Guide.” 

Oakland Cottage Industry

This site is run by volunteers who want to help spread the word about local makers who might not have a storefront space, or a large social media following. Oakland Cottage Industry is currently hosting a virtual fair where shoppers can learn about different online businesses. You can find handmade soaps, jewelry, cosmetics, and more through this website. The fair will be live until Dec. 20.

If you’re a locally owned business that’s not on this list and you want to help Oakland shoppers find you this holiday season, please drop us a line at hello@oaklandside.org! We’ll be updating this guide over the next week.

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Azucena Rasilla is an East Oakland native, a bilingual journalist reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.