Oakland hasn't exactly been a hotbed of retail activity in recent decades, and efforts to bring more retail downtown, and to revive the foundering Jack London Square have been mostly stalled (though Coi/Plum chef-owner Daniel Patterson is opening Haven in JLS next week). Enter a couple of idealistic Oaklanders, one an urban planner, who decided to take the frown of a vacant block in Old Oakland (centered around 9th Street and Broadway) and turn it upside down. They negotiated six months of free rent with the landlords, and curated a mix of hip shops like Sticks + Stones Gallery, Marion and Rose’s Workshop (which will teach sewing classes), Manifesto Bikes, and Piper and John General Goods. The name: Popuphood.

The NYT/Bay Citizen wrote about the Popuphood experiment in a piece last week about the evolving (and now perhaps overused) concept of the "pop-up" in general. But Popuphood organizer Alfonso Dominguez wants everyone to understand that while they may be using the buzzword, they're hoping all these new tenants in Old Oakland won't be temporary, and will sign long-term leases. "What we’re doing is making an incubator for the new economy, rethinking the way retail works as a way to survive.”

The grand opening party is today from noon to 9 p.m., and hopefully the buzz will bring Old Oakland something it's sorely lacked for a long time: foot traffic.

Below, a pretty mini-documentary about co-founders Dominguez and Sarah Filley.

[NYT/Bay Citizen]