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The Oakland Berkley Book March 2013

Eva Kolenko meet » Alfonso Dominguez & Sarah Filley /founders, popuphood Retail Revitalizers » A pair of like-minded entrepreneurs transformed an abandoned corridor into a shopping destination. L Less than two years ago, foot traffic in Old Oakland was virtually nonexistent, despite a flourishing restaurant and bar scene. Today, you’ll see passersby wandering in and out of locally owned shops along a 15-block stretch of charming Victorians, thanks to Alfonso Dominguez and Sarah Filley. In 2011, the pair founded Popuphood, a retail initiative that revitalized Old Oakland’s barren storefronts by offering shop owners six months to establish their businesses rent free, courtesy of property owners Peter Sullivan Associates. The ability to secure a foothold in the market has led to three businesses signing permanent leases and other cities clamoring to introduce the Popuphood model into their neighborhoods. 30 theberkeleyoaklandbook.com “There was this idea that people still wanted to shop in Oakland, but they had no place to go,” says Dominguez, a business owner in Old Oakland for eight years. “We put the spotlight on opening a business here. It’s possible; there’s enough support.” Now, shoppers can browse among five stores filled with everything from upscale barware to handcrafted jewelry to vintage clothing. Dominguez and Filley, a studio artist with experience in urban design and public engagement, are already diving into new projects, including a 15-block span of Telegraph Avenue, between Koreatown and Northgate. “Each neighborhood is a totally different animal, and we’re developing as urban strategists and consultants,” says Filley. “We’re still learning how the process happens, but I don’t think a project works with just us. It’s a social enterprise, a community effort. We’re just the composers of that effort.” For more information, go to popuphood.com. —Kristen Haney B_io Hometowns: Dominguez: Oakland; Filley: Ann Arbor, MI Years in Oakland: Dominguez: 13; Filley: 20 Years they’ve known each other: About seven


The Oakland Berkley Book March 2013
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