Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 7, 2019

Secret shopper

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

CityLab has an intriguing piece on retail store fronts from early December, essentially the only retail that can survive is retail that is “Amazon proof.”   From the piece:

In the biggest picture, the retail industry is working to figure out what Amazon-proof businesses belong in brick-and-mortars stores. For now, the answer seems to be restaurants.

As e-commerce stores have moved from entertainment and electronics into clothing and pharmacy staples, the biggest winner has been the one thing you definitely can’t get from a warehouse: a hot meal—or an iced coffee.

If the rise of restaurants is obvious in American wallets, it’s equally evident on American payrolls. Since 2012, employment at “food service and drinking places” has grown by more than 20 percent—three times faster than employment in the overall retail sector. Supermarket jobs have barely grown at all, in that period.

And we see the same in Alameda, the majority of new places that open up are practically all restaurants.

And it’s not that it’s a bad thing, but as I was relaying to someone the other day, we’re definitely missing the retail shop portion of the whole going out experience.  Particularly clothing retail.  Sometimes you want to be able to pop into an interesting store to shop while waiting for a movie to start.

The piece continues:

A war is playing out in American cities between wealth and weirdness. The former encourages the pursuit of national trends and national brands—high-end fitness studios adjoining Sweetgreen franchises—for the purpose of maximizing profit on a per-lease basis. That spirit runs counter to the desire for diversity and experimentation, which requires policies that actively promote the survival of small companies in an economy that would otherwise eat them up.

But it appears that the kind of retail that may be popping up is not of the variety that would encourage casual shopping for family fun:

Critics often seem to see the recent past as superior to the emerging future, but the city has its optimists, too. Mitchell Moss, the NYU urban planning professor, sees a surprising pathway for the city to reestablish its old-fashioned weirdness. “We’re going to have a whole new industry,” he told me. “Cannabis distribution centers. The retail market will be saved by the potheads.”


  1. I participated in the Webster Street visioning process, and over the years have witnessed how it has blossomed with new shops and restaurants. Jolie’s and Wes Café have become two of the most popular breakfast spots that have anchored our struggling Main Street project.

    We’ve even extended it to include Alameda Landing which I think is a great idea.

    And just around the corner on Central, the Shade Shop (a long-time maker in town) now has company. She welcomes a bicycle shop, a clothing store, and another maker space. A small art gallery that serves coffee and pastries just recently opened and I hear a tea shop is opening soon.

    My biggest disappointment about Webster Street is that large building in the middle of our thriving downtown district that will become a cannabis dispensary instead of a creative office space, an art gallery, or a maker space or some other creative use. Instead of designing a creative welcoming space that will add value to the Webster Street District, it will have armed guards and tiny windows to keep people out – just the opposite of what we are trying to create on Webster Street.

    Meanwhile, Oakland is on fire – opening its second Blue Bottle coffee shop. They have one in their popular Temescal District and a new one opening soon in their Uptown District. Oakland has a restaurant or coffee shop on just about every corner. The planners in Oakland have exceeded their goal of 300 new restaurants/cafes in three years.

    Done right – it helps attracts great companies to your city – like Square – which is moving into the old Sears building and bringing 300 – 500 employees. Employees like to walk to lunch, not get in their cars. The developer – the CIM Group will be adding a market hall on the bottom floor, creating yet another destination in the Uptown District.

    I think we missed a great opportunity to development something exciting on Webster Street!

    Comment by Karen — January 7, 2019 @ 7:24 am

    • Jesus, Karen! Reefer Madness much? We can have a dispensary and all the other stuff. You know who also likes to eat food and appreciate art? Marijuana enthusiasts. Oakland also has a bunch of dispensaries, art and maker spaces, and restaurants. I know, there’s that one guy who gives out brownies and threatens to drug our kids if he doesn’t get his way at city council meetings, but he’s just one idiot. Try not to be such a square!

      Comment by Rod — January 7, 2019 @ 9:17 am

      • Karen, “armed guards and little windows to keep people out”. really?, for a supposedly progressive person you sound pretty conservative, almost nimby to me.

        Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — January 7, 2019 @ 9:39 am

        • This “supposedly progressive person” has repeatedly lied about the Alameda Renters Coalition in the letters to the Sun in order to attempt to keep renters from having too many rights in this town. This fearmongering comes as no surprise from somebody so chronically shady.

          Comment by Rod — January 7, 2019 @ 10:32 am

    • Blue Bottle on 9th near Broadway has been open for quite some time now.

      Comment by bayporter — January 7, 2019 @ 6:34 pm

      • Their new store that recently opened is located at 2001 Franklin.

        Comment by Karen — January 10, 2019 @ 6:58 am

  2. John, if you’ve been following my posts on this subject you would know I’m about as NIMBY as they get on this subject. I’ve seen children taken from their parents because of their addiction to marijuana and other horrors that don’t get told because of the large amounts of moneybpouring into this industry. The untold truths are buried in social workers files who are forced to deal with the unintended consequences of this drug. While there is some good, there is an awful lot of bad that also should be part of the conversation.

    As far as the building, this is how it was described.

    Comment by Karen — January 7, 2019 @ 10:10 am

    • Comment by Rod — January 7, 2019 @ 10:33 am

    • I hear the Devil’s Lettuce also makes white women do lustful dances to the jazz! Oh no!

      Comment by Rod — January 7, 2019 @ 10:34 am

    • the exact same thing could be said about alcohol, I don’t hear your decrying liquor stores, or bars or restaurants that serve the evil liquor that destroys so many folks.

      Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — January 7, 2019 @ 10:49 am

      • Because it’s personal. I’ve not had negative experiences with alcohol, but I have with marijuana.

        Comment by Karen — January 7, 2019 @ 11:33 am

        • And the danger of marijuana is that they are telling people that it’s not addictive when it is.

          Comment by Karen — January 7, 2019 @ 11:35 am

        • Karen, your saying it is addictive is pure B.S. and you know it. please show studies of how addictive it has proven to be.

          Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — January 7, 2019 @ 5:12 pm

        • I would like to see them close more liquor stores and I agree marijuana is very addictive. Go to a 12 step group and you will see. It depends how often you use it and why, just as liquor or tobacco. I personally just don’t like the smell but I also don’t like walking next to someone smoking tobacco but it is still acceptable to do so. It will be interesting to see the impact in a few years.

          I am glad it was passed after they changed the law to no smoking in bars and restaurants. On Webster Street I believe there are only 2 liquor stores, although I think there are 3 bars. I think a lot closed down after the base closed. I only been to 1400 Webster for brunch, never been in Fireside or Harvey’s. In Alameda the only Bar’s I have been in are Lucky 13 and Forbidden Island to meet friends. I think the NEW trendy bars are opening up on the old base but I not a bar person.

          Comment by Jake — January 8, 2019 @ 10:11 am

  3. Just wait. It’s likely that Webster Street and Park Street will be upzoned either through state legislation, or the next housing element process. Then the nimbyism will really come out! Can’t wait!

    Comment by Angela — January 7, 2019 @ 10:25 am

    • This is exciting! It’s long overdue!

      Comment by Karen — January 7, 2019 @ 11:40 am

    • The perfect place to start would be across the street from the movie theatre. Just give the businesses there grandfathered rent. Otherwise no view obstruction and practically 2/3rd of a city block available.

      Comment by michonnekatana — January 8, 2019 @ 8:11 am

      • I am talking the produce place, halal chicken and the parking lot. Not sure how much that eagles place would put up a fight.

        Comment by michonnekatana — January 8, 2019 @ 8:14 am

  4. Rod, you have me confused with some other Karen.

    Comment by Karen — January 7, 2019 @ 10:48 am

    • Apologies if you’re not Karen Miller. If you are, I’mma double down on how shady you are!

      Comment by Rod — January 7, 2019 @ 11:13 am

      • Rod I am fairly certain you have the wrong Karen. I know Karen. I go by Jake because that is one of my nicknames and someone else was posting under my actual name. Never assume that someone is who you may think they are.

        Comment by Jake — January 8, 2019 @ 10:07 am

        • You may be right. Or the little bird who told me it was Karen Miller may be right. No way to really know, I suppose. Either way, the pearls are being clutched hard!

          Comment by Rod — January 8, 2019 @ 10:15 am

  5. “My friends, either you are closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge, or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pot dispensary in our community!”
    Ya got Trouble, my friends…Right here in Alameda! Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for POT.”

    No doubt Mayor Ezzy Ashcraft will perform the adapted soliloquy from the Music Man at the next City Council meeting. She is perfect for the role.

    Comment by vigi — January 7, 2019 @ 12:05 pm

    • vigi. I will say one thing, she is perfect for the “role” as you call it of Mayor. ya know, the majority of voters in this wonderful little city voted for her.

      Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — January 7, 2019 @ 5:15 pm

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