.Treasure Hunting: Exploring Temescal Alley

As the East Bay slowly reopens after months of lockdown, the region’s small businesses welcome back their customers. From vintage clothing to vegan ice cream, our local shops are at the core of what makes the East Bay such a fun place to live. 

Temescal Alley, off 49th street in Oakland, offers visitors the chance to experience the best of our community’s world-class designers and makers. It’s the perfect place for holiday shopping or for filling a warm autumn afternoon (safely, of course). Here are the best shops to visit in Temescal Alley:

Minds Eye Vintage

This charming vintage clothing shop carries men’s, women’s and children’s clothes that ooze artsy Americana. Racks of denim, Western button-ups in a rainbow of colors and A-line dresses will please any style-lover. You might even get a glimpse of the shop puppy, Mac.

Ali Golden

East Bay designer Ali Golden’s designs are sustainable, simple and classic. Golden’s earth-toned separates and sharp patterns make beautiful foundations for a capsule wardrobe, but the brand’s bold window decoration might be its best attraction.


The jewelry designs sold in Esquelo range from delicate necklaces with geometric-inspired designs to chunky gold rings, but they have one thing in common: they’re all beautifully crafted. Esquelo is tucked to the side of the alley and easy to miss, but the shop is a must for unique statement pieces.

Curbside Creamery

Lines often wrap around the block for Curbside Creamery’s vegan and traditional dairy ice creams. Alongside unique flavors like Thai Iced Tea, the shop’s rotating menu boasts a solid stable of classics. On a warm night, it’s a popular neighborhood gathering spot.

Claflin, Thayer & Co.

Liz Thayer sells her own leather goods in this shop, along with designs by other leatherworkers and screen-printed clothes. Thayer’s family ran a shoe factory for decades, beginning in the mid-1800s, and Thayer displays the original sign in her shop.

Marisa Mason

Many of the goods in this tasteful shop are local, but it nonetheless has a global feel, with jewelry and textiles carefully curated for quality. Stop by for unique leather jewelry and colorful home-décor items.

Crimson Horticultural Rarities

Think of this small, packed plant shop as Temescal’s resident tropical jungle. Hundreds of plants of all sizes and shapes fill the store with every shade of green. The beautifully lush space is a welcome quarantine escape.

Temescal Alley feels quintessentially Oakland: quirky, inventive, maybe even a little weird.  Since most of the shops are owner-operated, you may even meet the maker of your new necklace or T-shirt. Whether you stop by Curbside Creamery for ice cream or bring home a miniature succulent from Crimson, the alley is a delightful community space to shop, socialize and explore.

Casey O’Brien
is an award-winning journalist with a focus on justice, equity and sustainability. She has been published in the Revelator, Sierra Magazine and Prism/the Daily Kos.


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