Oakland is certainly not a one-note town - its diversity and multicultural tapestry are legendary, and the creativity that flows from that influences everything in the city, including the vintage clothing stores.

And those aren’t one note either. Almost all feature additional temptations including vinyl records, vintage housewares, locally produced jewelry and beauty products, candles, workshop space and so much more, including a hair salon in the back of one jewel. And the owners? They’re not one note either. You’ll find stylists, live show producers, playwrights, those who have set up their shops as collectives, makers and even a shop dog or two.

Your tour of vintage shops will also be a tour of Oakland, as it will take you to a variety of neighborhoods including Temescal, Piedmont, Laurel, Rockridge and near Lake Merritt.

I couldn’t bear the thought of missing a single treasure, so I devoted a whole weekend to sussing them out. I consistently found gems at many different price points, along with owners and managers who were super helpful, excited to be “urban foragers” finding treasures to share, and all grateful to be living in Oakland, where inclusivity and community support go hand-in-hand.

One of my favorites stops was LaliSimone in the Laurel District, and meeting founder/owner and stylist Judith Soto. As she describes her store, “a boutique specializing in fashion-forward vintage. Find rare and unique vintage, curated selection of designer, and upcycled jewelry handcrafted by local artists.” A small space where she has made every square inch count, it was wonderfully warm and welcoming, and what a bonus to have an owner who can help you understand how to pair a vintage floral designer top with your existing plaid festival pants, and look runway ready.


Also on Piedmont, include Mercy Vintage on your list. Owners Karen and Rachel describe their day jobs as “professional treasure hunters”, scouring for the best vintage and designer pieces in the Bay Area and beyond. “Outrageous”, “simplistic” and “quality” are words they use to describe what you’ll find and they’ll help you mix items together to find a look that works for you. Mercy also takes consignment pieces in case you’re ready to do a closet clean out or everyone has seen your statement piece and you’re ready for another! The girls have an eye and it shows.


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If vibe were a color, it might very well be shades of pink, which is what you’ll find when you walk into Down at Lulu’s, a kitschy vintage shop with a full service two station hair salon in the back. Vinyl and books round out the store. The gals who were there the day I visited, Jes and Amber, do a lot of the lifting, although it’s a collective of about eight. Focusing on the 60’s - 90’s, with men’s and women’s offerings, this intimate 600 sq. ft. space has owners who love their nice, unpretentious part of Oakland, which is dubbed Temescal, but according to them, might more appropriately take on the moniker of a nearby business, Alcatrash. They claim the area fits them like a well worn cherished piece of clothing. Nearby you’ll find everything from high-end antiques to cheap burgers, as well as the oldest gay bar in Oakland. Voted Best Vintage 2017 by SF Magazine.


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Want vintage that goes way back? Walk into All Things Vintage and you’ll likely find Lucy and co-owner Claudia in sassy outfits from the 30’s, and they’ll gladly help you find your own statement piece from their amazing collection of pieces from the 30’s - 70’s. Additional items include gloves, vintage linens, art, pottery and more.


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Dig through current styles at thrift store Out of the Closet, which benefits the AIDS Foundation, for an occasional vintage treasure in this expansive store (with its own parking lot!), where I found some sparkly silver ankle boots for $6!

Look for a newly re-opened and re-imagined Makers Loft from Rachelle and Xela with retail sales featuring Xela’s upcycled vintage, consigned goods, and offerings from other local women designers and artists who belong to their collective, and ask about workshops in the evening.

There were so many jewels, and each shop had something wonderful to offer and treasures to discover. If you’re fortunate enough to live in Oakland, you can make the rounds on a regular basis to check out the new pieces that are constantly being brought in, and let the owners/managers know if you’re looking for something specific so they can keep an eye out. If you’re a visitor, it’s a great way to see the city and poke into some really cool neighborhood nooks and crannies. Happy treasure hunting!