Despite amenities like a farmers’ market and historic buildings, Oakland’s old business district was lacking in vibrant street life. Architect and local business owner Alfonso Dominguez and artist Sarah Filley co-founded nonprofit popuphood as a small-business incubator to revitalize the neighborhood and spark long-term economic development. Working with a landlord who agreed to provide space in vacant storefronts, Filley and Dominguez recruited five complementary businesses with the promise of six months of free rent and marketing support. The project launched before last Christmas and has so far been a success, generating buzz as a new destination unique for its hyperlocal approach to retail. Three of the original retailers have signed long-term leases, and the neighborhood seems on the rise.
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