'Plaid Friday' A Success in Lake Merritt/Uptown & Downtown Oakland

Local Retail Movement Moves into High Gear in
Lake Merritt/Uptown & Downtown Oakland

Plaid Friday’s “mall-ternative” event sees record numbers ‘love Oakland and put their money where their hearts are’

The results are in and everyone involved has declared last Friday’s ‘Plaid Friday’ event in Oakland a resounding success. 

Hundreds of businesses citywide, including more than 45 businesses located in the Downtown and Lake Merritt/Uptown community benefit districts, participated in the day-long event which included free parking in city-owned lots and garages and at meters, professional gift wrapping, a visit from Santa, food vendors and a host of live entertainment. 

This year’s event, the fifth ‘mall-ternative’ shopping event in Oakland, included the transformation of Latham Square into a festive winter wonderland where more than 30 “pop-up” artisans displayed and sold artwork and gifts. Additionally, throughout the evening, dozens of pop-up vendors were offering fantastic gift options in downtown and uptown’s coolest bars and restaurants.

Results of surveys conducted among many of the businesses that participated in this year’s event indicate that retail activity was high. 

Loakal Art Gallery and Boutique at 560 Second Street reported a doubling in sales over last year’s event.  "We were so happy to see fellow Oaklanders get in the spirit of supporting local businesses. Many of our customers even came to the store wearing plaid! It was a great way to celebrate the diversity and creativity of Oakland," said Loretta Nguyen, proprietor.

“We saw a tremendous amount of foot traffic and retail activity throughout both the Uptown and Downtown districts on Friday and we hope this energy is going to continue during the holiday shopping season,” said Steve Snider, District Manager of the Lake Merritt/Uptown District and Downtown Oakland Associations.  “In fact, all of the partner organizations involved in this event reported tremendous interest and energy and we are already teaming and planning to make the event even bigger next holiday season,” he added.

Plaid Friday is a key component of Oakland Grown, a nonprofit, buy local program celebrating and supporting independent businesses and artists and is supported by the City of Oakland, East Bay Express, the Lake Merritt/Uptown District and Downtown Oakland Associations, Oaklandish, Oakland In The Black, Betti Ono Gallery, and popuphood. Other partners include Visit Oakland, East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Marion and Rose’s Workshop, ProArts and the Great Wall of Oakland.  This is the fifth year Plaid Friday has taken place in Oakland and the event has now been replicated in several cities around the country including Syracuse, NY, Pittsfield, MA, and Winchester, VA. 
The energy on Plaid Friday is so incredible. I am so proud to be a part of a city that really gets and supports independent art and business,” said Kate Ellen, owner of Crown Nine in Old Oakland, who reported an increase in sales of 34%.

Local businesses -- from bars, restaurants and cafes to art galleries and shops selling Oakland-themed items such as Oaklandish – form an important part of Oakland’s thriving downtown vibe.  The city has also been a focal point for the merging “pop-up” retail phenomenon where independent entrepreneurs open temporary stores in vacant ground floor retail spaces.  To support the growth of the city’s retail sector, the community benefit districts have developed a 2013 holiday shopping guide complete with a walking map and contact information for more than 79 retailers with outlets in Downtown and Uptown Oakland. http://www.scribd.com/doc/184228363/Uptown-Downtown-Shopping-Guide


The Downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt/Uptown District Associations were formed in February 2009. Property owners in both Downtown Oakland and the Lake Merritt/Uptown Districts voted by a margin of almost 8 to 1 to support a voluntary property tax to fund services that would improve the quality of life in their respective communities. The associations meet and function jointly. Services funded by these Districts include maintaining cleanliness and order in the public rights of way, improving district identity and advocating on behalf of the area’s property owners, business owners and residents.  In June 2013, the districts were recognized by the International Downtown Association (IDA) and named the IDA’s June Downtown of the Month.
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