South Shore Center Is More Than a Mall
Head to the shore to support Alameda businesses while shopping locally in an open-air setting.
You can make ceramics at Color Me Mine
Photo by Ariel Nava
Some people are mall-haters who can’t understand why tweens would want to hang out there. But even those without young mall rats sometimes need certain things that only come from stores like Ross, OfficeMax, or Alameda Beauty Center, all of which are found at South Shore Center. Supporting Alameda businesses and shopping locally when possible make good economic sense in any case. But what a better experience it would be if a visit to the mall felt less “mall-y.” South Shore Center delivers. Take a walk around to see what is new, different, and fun.
There’s more than just sweatsocks and bath towels at the center. One of Alameda’s favorite old-time businesses has a location at South Shore: Pagano’s Hardware Store. With a Christmas tree lot in winter, patio furniture in summer, live bedding plants, tools, keys, and housewares, plus a staff of knowledgeable people who will answer every question or help you find just that one thing you need, Pagano’s is an old-fashioned treasure chest in a bustling world. You need it? They have it or can get it. 2298 South Shore Center, 510-769-7540; www.PaganosHardware.com.
The soccer parents among us know that eventually, you have to buy shin guards. Or cleats. Or team uniforms. Better save yourself the trouble of searching and just go to Soccer Post, Alameda’s command central for kids and adult teams. The store is open seven days a week, and if you’re into soccer, you can also join a conversation about Euro-leagues, get solid advice on brands and products, and more. 2203 South Shore Center, 510-523-5700, www.SocccerPost.com.
If all this mall-strolling has worn you out, or you would like to treat yourself to something more artistic than a shop window, visit the Alameda Art Association Art Gallery, open Wednesdays through Sundays. There are sofas where you can rest your weary bones and sip your beverage while feasting your eyes on locally created paintings, sketches, and crafts (all of which are for sale). Cases of jewelry, handmade purses and scarves, and paintings with subjects ranging from sports heroes and pets to historic homes or abstract impressionism—even if you’re not an art-lover, you can appreciate the free museum-like atmosphere, out of the sun or cold. 2242 South Shore Center, 510-523-4475. www.AlamedaArtAssociation.com.
Did the art inspire you? If you want an actual destination for a playdate, a ladies’ night out, or a solo DIY crafting hour, get thee to Color Me Mine, where you can paint any of dozens of ceramic items and have it fired to preserve your artwork. The ceramics are reasonably priced, and the studio fees are inexpensive; make a hostess gift or a set of mugs with the family name on them, Christmas ornaments, house number plaques, or personalized tiles for a kitchen backsplash. Here’s your chance to get creative, whatever your age. The store is locally owned, too. 2205 South Shore Center, 510-521-8893, www.ColorMeMine.com.
Even if you are dragged to the mall by your tweens and their friends, it doesn’t mean you have to carry all the bags and stare into windows. If you came by foot or by car, here’s your chance to ride along the beach: Pedal Beach rents an assortment of bicycles, including tandems (the old-fashioned bicycle built for two). Riding along Shore Line in the new bike lanes is excellent exercise and a way to view the gorgeous bay. Open Wednesday through Sunday, at the kiosk next to McDonald’s. 523 South Shore Center West, 510-303-8823; www.PedalBeach.com.
And when you finish your shopping, or need to get away from crowds, visit the Elsie B. Roemer Bird Sanctuary. Roemer was an Alameda resident who spoke up for the birds and marshlands when the area was slated for development. The bird sanctuary that runs from the Bay Farm Bridge to the end of Park Street along Shore Line is her legacy. Take your Frappuccino or your Jamba Juice and, after you drop your letter at the post office, stroll down the beach, on the sidewalk, or on the sandy shore. Some days it’s crowded with families; other days, you could be the sole survivor of an apocalypse, walking down a deserted shore. Alameda’s shoreline is one of Alameda’s best-kept secrets. If you finish your mall errands, you can enjoy a breezy walk with a chance to see clapper rails, snowy egrets, brown pelicans, Western sandpipers, and double-crested cormorants. Along Shore Line Avenue, 888-327-2757, www.EBParks.org.
Turns out that Saturday is a great day to go to South Shore, especially if you walk over. Parking might be dicey on the east end of the center because there’s a food pod and usually live music, too. Off the Grid brings food trucks with a delicious array of gourmet choices, from Asian burritos, artisanal cupcakes, garlic noodles, barbecue, pulled pork, lumpia, food on a stick or wrapped with bacon, and fries with whatever on top. Take it to go—to the beach, or home—or have a seat and listen to whomever is strumming and singing. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. www.OffTheGridSF.com.
If a cupcake is not your idea of dessert, but house-made ice cream is, stroll over to Loard’s Ice Cream, an East Bay family-owned ice cream shop that still makes old-fashioned sundaes like the Black and Tan (chocolate and vanilla ice cream with caramel and chocolate syrups; switch out the vanilla for mocha chip). Loard’s is made in San Leandro and has quarts of most flavors packed to take home. Loard’s also has a good variety of Pacific Island flavors like ube, macapuno, mango and green tea. The Halo Halo sundae has red bean, jackfruit, coconut, and pinipig (crushed rice) in it. And if you have little kids, they might enjoy the little old-school coin-op motorboat out front, for 50 cents a ride. 2265 South Shore Center, 510-521-0873, www.Loards.com.
You might not make it to Loard’s if you stop at See’s Candy (a California-made confection). Even if you don’t buy a whole box of bonbons, the smiling employees will always give you a free sample. Just follow your nose to the scent of chocolate. Scotchmallows! 2244 South Shore Center, 510-523-1611, www.Sees.com.
But if you really want to sit down for a meal, at least choose a locally owned place with one of the best views in Alameda: Sushi House. The sushi is fresh and tasty, and the location on the corner of Broadway and Shore Line Drive is the smartest use of the entire stretch of commercial buildings along the beach. A restaurant with a view makes much more sense than a courthouse with no windows or a car wash. Sometimes the lines are long at Sushi House, but it’s worth it. 2375 Shore Line Drive, 510-865-0999, www.E-SushiHouse.com.