You Might Miss the Shopping Gem of Temescal Alley
If you blink, you may miss them, but the two alleys tucked off 49th Street around the corner from Telegraph Avenue’s bustling Temescal shopping district are joyous little odes to local shopping at its best. Focusing on local designers and locally sourced products, a series of small shops in what used to be horse stables charms the mind, soul and imagination. Here’s a sampler for you—but plan on spending a few hours on a Saturday afternoon checking out both alleys in their entirety.
Standard & Strange Men’s Outfitters
This haberdasher stocks threads made in America, including bowties handmade in Oakland by a staff member at the nearby restaurant Pizzaiolo ($60 for cotton, $68 for silk), Taylor Stitch button-up collared shirts in plaid, gingham and denim ($125 made in San Francisco) and cozy-yet-manly wool cardigans from Skookum, made in Centralia, Wash., ($180). This store even carries very stylish striped socks ($30) machine knit in Japan and designed by a San Francisco-based Swede. The store means to stock menswear that’s going to last a lifetime, and the owners pride themselves on their wares’ “durability, usability and sustainability.”
Standard & Strange Men’s Outfitters, 484 A 49th St., Oakland, 888-447-4046, www.standardandstrange.com, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Wed.–Sat. and noon–4 p.m. Sun.
Temescal Alley Barbershop
The high number of dapper men sporting stylish hairstyles in the alley may be f the result of this and the next stops on our tour: Stepping into this classic barbershop is a bit like going back in time. From the vintage chart of 1950s-style men’s haircuts on the wall (including the “Ivy League,” the “Forward Brush” and the “Flat Top with Fenders”) to the display of Italian shaving brushes and shaving cream ($10). The preferred style is clean and trim—the shop’s Tumblr site includes a glowing letter of thanks from “the girlfriend of the guy who used to have a ponytail.” It’s no-nonsense, with walk-ins only—you just sign up on the provided chalkboard. Haircuts are $22; shaves, $30; and a beard trim, $10.
Temescal Alley Barbershop, 470 B 49th St., Oakland, 510-761-5074, www.temescalalleybarbershop.tumblr.com, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Tue.–Sun.
This home-furnishings shop combines sleek style with a sense of humor and whimsy. Owner Perry Lucina says he didn’t want the store to feature only midcentury modern,
“so I just do what I like!” What he likes includes whimsical city prints by London-based artist Julie Marabelle ($150); vintage box cameras ($25 and up); and a rotating cast of ’50s-era vintage furniture, along with some consignments, such as—spied during a recent trip to the shop—a reclaimed wood coffee table ($650) with a solid feel but the straight lines that Lucina adores. And Lucina is in on the joke: An avian-adorned canvas tote bag in the store has a sign straight out of the humor show Portlandia reading, “Put a bird on it!”
Lot 49, 470 49th St., Oakland, 415-328-4756, www.lot-49.com, open noon–5 p.m. Thu.–Sat. or by appointment.
It’s extraordinarily difficult to walk into this gem of a jewelry store without walking out with something from jewels to decorative items, and most likely that something will be made by a local craftswoman: 70 percent of the items in the store hail from nearby, while 30 percent comes from jewelers in other areas. For example, local designer Alba Nelly Urbina’s jewels include hammered metal rings, hoop earrings and bangles, while Lindsay Olson’s Oakland-based Adeline Jewelry features silver skull earrings. While the shop showcases a variety of designers, there is a unifying aesthetic: natural forms and materials. While you will find a few diamonds scattered about, the designs at Esqueleto take advantage of more exotic substances, such as jade, petrified wood, agates and boulder opals. And you’ll find jewelry based on unusual items such as sterling silver arrowheads ($65 each), displayed next to the original arrowheads from which they were cast ($25).
Esqueleto, 482 A 49th St., Oakland, 510-629-6216, www.shopesqueleto.com, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Tue.–Sat. and noon–5 p.m. Sun.
Wingspan Movement and Wellness
If all this shopping is leaving you feeling a bit stressed, think of booking an appointment at Wingspan, just three doors down from Esqueleto (the amazing Doughnut Dolly shop is in between—drop in for a vanilla crème). The studio offers everything from acupressure to yoga to table massage and Thai yoga massage (a combination of stretching and acupressure). We’ve had several rave recommendations for the massages from co-owner Sara Liberatore Lopez. Massages start at $108.
Wingspan Movement and Wellness, 482 E 49th St., 510-290-6174, www.wingspanmovement.com, open by appointment.
Also in the Alley
In addition to the aforementioned Doughnut Dolly (www.doughnutdolly.com), Temescal Alley is also home to these shops, galleries and businesses that deserve poking around in, especially on a lively First Friday Oakland Art Walk: Bounty and Feast (www.bountyandfeast.com), Crimson Horticultural Rarities (www.crimsonhort.com), Interface Art Gallery (www.interfaceartgallery.com) and Oakland Dry Goods.
Restaurante Doña Tomás
And finally, refreshed and shopped out, head down Temescal Alley to grab a margarita on offer at this spectacular Mexican restaurant and watering hole. The restaurant’s back patio meets the end of Temescal Alley, making it the logical place to end your shopping trip (and don’t worry if there’s some chill in the air—the eatery’s heaters keep the patio nice and toasty). And if you’re a straight-shooter type, try one of the mezcal samplers or tequila flights along with a tasty meal of classic Mexican delicacies.
Restaurante Doña Tomás, 5004 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-450-0522, www.donatomas.com, 5:30–9:30 p.m. Tue.-Thu. and 5:30–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat.; brunch 9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Sat.–Sun.