Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Old Oakland produce stand closes

By awoodall
Friday, July 15th, 2011 at 11:54 am in Old Oakland.

Barely a month after it opened, the organic produce stand at Swan’s Market in Old Oakland is closing.
At first the news surprised me.  I can’t remember how many times I begged for a market within walking distance of my old place on Ninth Street.  I would be cursing the lack of stores as I drove several miles out of the way for some milk at night or something on Sunday.  So why wouldn’t the stand be successful?
Well, for one, the hours: they lost the people walking home from BART and the potential shoppers who don’t get home until after the 6 p.m. closing time and just want to run down the street for a pre-made sandwich, or salad or bottle of wine.  Some of them shop even later because they go to the gym first before heading home. That’s the traffic the place needed but couldn’t capture because Swan’s closes at 6 p.m.
Old Oakland residents are shopping elsewhere. Why not give them a chance to shop local for things they want at a convenient hour?
Have you seen the lines at the Lakeshore Ave. Trader Joe’s at 6:30-7 p.m?
And, to state the obvious, it was an organic produce stand – not a market with anything else people needed.  So I think this comment by a neighbor is shortsighted:  “Let’s remember this the next time there is clamor for a full service grocery store in the neighborhood. If we can’t support a single produce stand, we can’t expect anything larger.”
No one knows if the neighborhood could support a full service market because there hasn’t been one there to test. The last market in the neighborhood – in one of the street facing storefronts in Swan’s — was terribly run and stocked with bags of Wonder Bread, dusty cans of soup and bottles of warm soda.  Those are fine if there are other options.
So, one, a produce stand is not a test case for a full-scale market because it is like comparing apples and oranges. And, two, the hours have to accommodate shoppers. I don’t know why it closes at 6 p.m. but it doesn’t make sense for commerce. I think a Trader Joe’s would work in the Golden Gate shopping center. For Ninth Street a corner market with some fresh food, staples, flowers, wine, beer and the like would be perfect.

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