Alameda Business Buzz: Small Business Saturday

Alameda Business Buzz: Small Business Saturday

Janice Worthen

The mural gracing Island Auto Sales. Photo by Janice Worthen.

November 29 is national Small Business Saturday, a day to shop local and express gratitude for the small businesses that add character and variety to our lives. Almost every person I have interviewed has told me Alameda is charming, and I think the businesses one finds here are a large contributor to that charm. What better way to give thanks for this beautiful Island life than to keep one’s money in Alameda, not only for the holidays but year round?

I have many favorite local haunts, from Pixies & Peonies, where adorable buttonquails make for a warmer shopping experience, to Therapy, where I’ve seen such funky pieces as a pillow with a dog disc jockey.

No other city has Paul’s Newsstand, the – well, charming – little shack selling paper news since 1939. Video Factory is one of the last, if not the last, video rental stores in the Bay Area, a cozy little place that provides the now-novel hands-on browsing option (I still find out what’s come out by checking their new release section rather than browsing online). Thanks to The Little Ice Rink, which is celebrating its third year at Alameda South Shore Center, I can make a fool of myself skating in my hometown this holiday season instead of making the arduous trip into a crowded San Francisco to hobble around one of the city’s crowded rinks.

And I can’t forget our famous Pacific Pinball Museum, a nonprofit that has received a writeup in The New York Times and has been providing a place to discover and rediscover one’s love for pinball since 2001, when it was known as Lucky JuJu Pinball. I asked Executive Director Michael Schiess what he loves about pinball.

“Pinball is one of those unique, crazy American things that transcends the mundane,” he said. “It makes me learn about things I didn’t know or understand while encouraging me to lose myself in the private world of me against the machine. A good game of pinball can leave you completely relaxed and without a care.”

(You can see Pacific Pinball Museum’s funky side and embrace your inner “pinhead” on Saturday during the Vintage Pinball Style event, which includes a vintage fashion sale, a comedy show, and DJ Derek See rockin’ the classics until midnight. Find details at

Trendy little shops like To Herb With Love and Modern Mouse offer accessories to make any outfit pop. My latest acquisition from To Herb With Love is a pashmina-style scarf covered in vintage cameras.

Our antique stores and Alameda Point Antiques Faire are the envy of my father, who often calls with a list of things I need to look for on my next shopping trip. Need a quirky chair/planter to grace a garden? Alameda has certainly got you covered.

As far as food goes, I count my blessings whenever I make it to Sandwich Board for a roasted turkey sandwich, Ole’s for pecan waffles, or PS Eatery for pulled pork mac ‘n cheese.

The Park Street Business Association has announced that several Park Street merchants will offer special discounts on November 29 for Small Business Saturday. Find out more on a Facebook event page.

Just as I’m encouraging you to support local businesses, those same business owners are supporting the community by giving back with a variety of fundraising efforts.

Back in September, Alameda experienced a string of arsons that devastated business owners and residents on and around Park Street. In last month’s column I mentioned efforts made by Melanie Hartman of American Oak to raise funds for the arson victims. But Joe Dalipe of Island Print Express has also emerged as a leader in what has become a fundraising crusade.

Dalipe’s business, which opened in May, was spared by the fires. But he wanted to help the families who lost their homes.

With the help of community development coordinator and local social services legend Jim Franz and Mark Sorensen, executive director of the Alameda Chamber of Commerce, Dalipe was able to open a bank account for the Alameda Relief Fund and hold a pancake breakfast to kick off the fundraising effort. He also printed T-shirts and posters designed by Chris Tam of All Good Living.

The response was so positive that Dalipe decided to ask other businesses to sell T-shirts to help raise money. Dalipe recently announced on his Facebook page, Alameda Peeps Unite (the name is used with permission from the Alameda Peeps page), that Alamedans who bought the T-shirts and posters have helped him surpass his $10,000 fundraising goal.

He is also considering a new nonprofit called “Alameda Unite” to keep the fundraising going.

Dalipe plans to honor Franz at the pair’s final fundraiser, Island Casino Night, which will be held from 8 p.m. to midnight tonight at Dragon Rouge restaurant, 2337 Blanding Avenue. Guests who make a monetary donation will receive chips that can be used to play roulette, blackjack, and craps; chips can also be redeemed for raffle tickets. At midnight, winners will be drawn, and prizes include gift certificates, wine, and an iPad Mini.

Soulstice will provide live music, and if you wear your fire fundraiser T-shirt, you get free beer from Faction Brewing. Dalipe said he hopes to raise at least $3,000 at the event.

Dalipe also announced on Facebook that he won’t sell any more of the Alameda shirts once the current batch sells out. Shirts can still be purchased, though, at Alameda Bicycle, All Good Living, Bladium, Books Inc., Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu/Yoga Alameda, Dragon Rouge, Fireside Lounge, Island Print Express, Modern Mouse, Natural Grocery, Sidestreet Pho, Tucker’s Creamery, and the West Alameda Business Association. You can also purchase a shirt on Island Print Express’s website, with free bike delivery.

“This is Alameda, and I love this community,” Dalipe wrote me. “We can UNITE and be stronger.”

The folks at Alameda Business Network also embrace the spirit of giving. This year the group will host its third Arms Around Alameda fundraiser, which benefits the Alameda Welfare Council, Alameda Food Bank and Toys4Tots.

Network member Deborah Porterfield, owner of a Touch of Class Jewelers, said that 100 percent of the event’s proceeds stay in Alameda. Alameda Welfare Council supports many groups, including Meals on Wheels, Girls Inc. of the Island City and the Alameda Boys & Girls Club.

“ABN is about giving back to the community,” Porterfield said. “We feel very strongly about that.”

The fundraiser will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. December 4 at the Alameda Elks Lodge, 2255 Santa Clara Avenue. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, and the event will include a raffle, silent auction, full bar, buffet, and live entertainment. Anyone who brings a sealed, non-perishable food item or unopened toy will receive a free raffle ticket. Porterfield said the event raised about $6,000 its first year and $10,000 its second year. She hopes to at least match that.

You can purchase advance tickets from the fundraiser’s Facebook page or by contacting Porterfield, at 714-8035.

A fundraiser that allows participants to become better acquainted with Alameda is the Alameda Family Services League’s Alameda Holiday Home Tour, which takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, December 13. This year marks the 44th year of the tour, and proceeds benefit Alameda Family Services, which provides Head Start programs, drug and alcohol treatment, school health centers and counseling.

The League’s Winkie Campbell-Notar said the tour includes a variety of houses decorated for the holidays. Last year, there were five Victorians on the tour, and this year, it includes two houses on Bay Farm Island.

The tour starts at the Elks Lodge on Santa Clara Avenue, where attendees can purchase or pick up prepaid tickets, do a little Christmas shopping at the Gourmet Shop and Holiday Boutique, and participate in a Texas raffle. Tour participants can then hop on a shuttle to participating houses, where docents serve as guides. A holiday tea will be served at First Presbyterian Church, 2001 Santa Clara Avenue.

“The fun part is seeing the best of people at this time of year,” Campbell-Notar said. “It’s a lot of work for everybody, and we all work outside our homes, but the payoff is knowing that our efforts result in services back to our community.”

Campbell-Notar said the League hopes to raise at least $25,000.

Advance tickets can be purchased for $35 on the event website. Tickets purchased the day of the event cost $40.

Finally, Pet Food Express brings a little holiday cheer to potential four-legged friends every year with their Giving Tree Fundraiser, which benefits animal shelters in Northern California. From November 25 to December 29, customers can make a monetary donation at any Pet Food Express or can buy and donate a Kong toy or Zuke’s treat. Customers who make a $10 donation will receive a 10 percent off coupon, and customers who donate more will receive a 20 percent off coupon.

According to their website, Pet Food Express raised $80,000 last year with this fundraiser. Alameda’s store is at Bridgeside Shopping Center, 2661 Blanding Avenue.

All in all, there’s a lot to be grateful for in Alameda this Thanksgiving and a lot of places to give back. How about you? What Alameda businesses and fundraisers do you support or are you grateful for? Feel free to comment below!


Park Street and Beyond: Park Street businesses will have extended holiday hours from December 5-20.

Banh Mi Shop is now open and serves Vietnamese sandwiches with a variety of meats to choose from as well as gelato. 2353 Santa Clara Avenue; 227-5220. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Sabai Salon & Dry Bar is now open. New clients receive 20 percent off their first visit. 2515 Santa Clara Avenue, Suite 101; 239-4329. Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Little Psychic Shop is now open. 1407 1/2 Park Street.

Alameda South Shore Center: The Little Ice Rink will remain open until January 19. Skate sessions are from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The Best Lil' Porkhouse will open Monday.

Modern Mouse has been celebrating its five-year anniversary this month with new specials each week and in-store refreshments for customers. For week one, customers enjoyed 10 percent off all purchases and received a limited edition Modern Mouse mason jar if they spent $15 or more; five lucky customers found a $25 gift certificate in their mason jar. For week two, customers received a raffle ticket for every $5 purchase for a chance to win anniversary prize sets. Week three brought a selection of $5 grab bags with a giveaway for one lucky Facebook follower. 2223 South Shore Center; 814-8830. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

West Alameda: Cookiebar celebrated its one-year anniversary on November 1, and co-owner Rob Feng said business has been very good so far. The popular ice cream and cookie shop that’s causing more than a sugar buzz in the Bay Area is Feng and John Ngu’s first business venture. Both grew up in West Alameda, and Feng said he always wanted to open a business in his hometown.

Feng said the business makes its ice cream and cookies in-house from scratch, and the duo adds new flavors often. Cookiebar’s ice cream and cookie sandwich – literally, ice cream placed between two warm cookies – is customers’ favorite item. According to Feng, 1606 is customers’ favorite flavor; it’s a blend of peppermint, Oreos, cookies and cream, and fudge flavors.

If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, Cookiebar is open from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. 1606 Webster Street; 521-1544.

There was a large turnout for the ribbon cutting ceremony at Michaels on November 2. Customers received a $10 gift card as they entered the store and won prizes ranging from mounting tape to craft lights at a table at the back of the store. Customers also entered to win one of the gift baskets handed out hourly throughout opening day. 2650 South Fifth Street. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Hair Tech is expanding to include a full service day spa that owner and master stylist Katie Andersen hopes to open in December. Andersen said Hair Tech is unique among salons because she and her stylists do not use toxic chemicals, and their products are organic and cruelty-free.

“I have always wanted to be able to offer everything one could want in a day of beauty and pampering,” Andersen said. “I feel as though I myself always have to travel far and wide to get my beauty needs met.”

Hair Tech is also one of the businesses on the West End that has started showcasing artists. Andersen has featured Paul Lewin and will feature media art by David Perea next. The new spa will showcase Perea’s work. Andersen said showcasing art at her business is important because she wants to show the beauty of the Webster Street area and help transform it into an art district. 1549 Webster Street; 239-8826. Open Tuesday through Saturday by appointment.

Sherwin-Williams is now open at Marina Village. 801 Marina Village Parkway; 263-0486. Open 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Santa will visit Webster Street on December 12. He will be present for photos and whispered wish lists at Financial Benefits Credit Union from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Stop by to tell Santa your Christmas wishes, pick up a treat, and get your face painted! 1528 Webster Street.