Following a launch party on Friday evening, the Oakland-based apparel company Oaklandish is going to formally open its first retail store to the public on Wednesday.
The 1,100-square-foot store, located at 1444 Broadway in downtown Oakland, will feature T-shirts as well as other crafts that represent Oakland’s cultural identity. All the patterns on the T-shirts—whether they’re of an oak tree or a “BART tree”—are designed by local artists and hand-printed in a production facility adjacent to the retail area.
This isn’t the company’s first retail location, but it’s the first Oaklandish store of this kind. Oaklandish used to sell its apparel at a gallery and library space in Jack London Square between 2003 and 2005. “The business was very different back then. It was more of an art project that happened to have some products,” said Nick Mueller, general manger of Oaklandish.
After the gallery and library closed down, the company began to sell its T-shirts online as well as through its retail “rig,” or T-shirts truck, at the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. In order to keep the “rig” tradition, Mueller said the store will initially have to close on weekends until the company expands its business and has a bigger staff. The online business will also be maintained, but “a lot of people don’t enjoy ordering online,” Mueller said.
Among all the “offline” locations, he said, the downtown area was the best option for Oaklandish to move to from its warehouse in West Oakland. “We really believe in downtown Oakland,” Mueller said. “There’re a lot of different neighborhoods in the city where people shop, but being in downtown gives us equal access to everyone.”
In addition to the attached production area, the company has moved its office to the second floor of the building.
Mueller said that because Oaklandish expects increasing sales at the new store, the company will also donate more of its proceeds to community organizations. For example, if you buy a T-shirt that features an image of the new billboards for Children’s Fairyland, a portion of the money will be used to support the park. Oaklandish’s total donation to Children’s Fairyland was about $5,000 last year, Mueller said.
The new store also signifies the company’s expansion to include cultural elements of places beyond Oakland. Its new brand, called “ThereThere,” adopts iconic shirt designs for more than forty cities across the country.
“If you like the design, if you like the fit, you should definitely get it,” Mueller said, explaining the store’s selling point. “Because that shirt is made in downtown Oakland.”
The store will be open from Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m, Mueller said.