Pop-Ups Bring New Life to Old Oakland, CA

Posted on: March 22nd, 2012 by David Garber 2 Comments

Pop-ups are part of the latest wave of grassroots urban innovations hitting cities now (see also: parks on railroads, cultural centers in old houses, and a thousand other cool things across the country). They are a creative way to bring - on a temporary basis, at least to begin with - energy and economy to otherwise vacant space, be it an empty building on Main Street or a windswept lot nobody's building on anytime soon.


In their pop-up location in Old Oakland, Manifesto Bicycles owners Sam Cunningham and MacKay Gibbs highlight their selection of customizable bikes. (Top left photo: Eva Kolenko. Others: popuphood)

There are any number of kinds of pop-ups, but the most common are retail and event pop-ups. Retailers can lease or be granted space to see if their concept has real legs, or people can host things like parties or even bike-powered movie nights in spaces that sit empty every other night of the week. For retailers, if the concept is successful, a longer lease can then be signed.


Owners Nicole Buffett and Jake Bagshaw, both San Francisco native artists inside their'DIY California lifestyle' boutique Piper and John General Goods. (Photo: Eva Kolenko)

In the Old Oakland neighborhood of Oakland, California, a group called popuphood is leading the charge on pop-up retail space. Old Oakland is a charming tree lined historic district with brick sidewalks, Victorian architecture evoking its past as the original heart of the city of Oakland. But although there's been a fair amount of restaurant and residential construction and conversions in the area, Old Oakland still lacks retail volume. 


Old Oakland's Sticks + Stones pop-up gallery. (Photos: popuphood)

Popuphood co-founder Sarah Filley sums up the situation nicely:

"There are plenty of old historic buildings that are being abandoned while new buildings are being built. We're working to add value to those buildings by reinvesting in them as assets - to help preserve the character of the place and the buildings."

Check it out this great video below on popuphood's awesome takeover in Old Oakland. How could pop-ups help transform your town or city's empty lots and storefronts?

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2 Responses

  1. Bob Craycraft

    March 22, 2012

    Small world, David. I just stumbled across this as an idea for the SW Retail Task Force’s initiative to find non-traditional retail opportunities for our lower-wealth residents to participate in.

  2. Josh

    March 24, 2012

    Nice to see the Oakland community coming together and taking their neighborhood’s destiny into their own hands. Good luck!