Ten Socially Conscious Businesses to Check Out After You Move to Oakland
Nina Foushee · October 1, 2015 ·
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Uhuru Furniture


New furniture is expensive, and Ikea shopping trips can be a taste of relationship-threatening hell. Shop Uhuru. A great second hand furniture shop with fantastic vintage finds, a super helpful staff, reasonable delivery services and the special distinction of winning "Best Furniture Store" in the East Bay Express six years in a row. If you aren’t sold already: all the proceeds help provide education, healthcare and economic development for the African community in Oakland.

Like Uhuru, Urban Furniture is a thrift store that sells quality used furniture. All the store profits benefit single, low income moms through job training programs. The store itself also hires and provides on the job training for low income single moms. The store, in the Grand Lake District, is well-organized, superlatively affordable, and consistently filled with friendly, helpful employees.

The first time I went to Regina’s door, a small artfully curated vintage shop in downtown Oakland, I spent about an hour combing through superb Mad Men-esque dresses and desperately trying to think of an event that would give me an excuse to buy something. Bat Mitzvah? My own wedding five years from now? The college graduation of a distant cousin? The owner of the business, Regina Evans, was there with me every step of the way – giving suggestions, talking about the history of Oakland, and sharing stories about the powerful, fashionable matriarchs of her family. Even if you aren’t into tulle and sweetheart necklines, you should check out this place. The business partners with the Bay Area anti-sex-trafficking organization, Love Never Fails, and provides workplace training for young people involved in domestic sex trafficking.



Whenever I move somewhere new, I like to get one thing to forever remind me of that place. Oaklandish, which has three Oakland storefronts, is an ideal spot for finding that one special thing. They specialize in simple, Oakland themed t-shirts and outerwear. The kind that go with everything. The kind that make you think you could become one of those casual yet put-together t-shirt people. And while you are strutting around in your Oakland-inspired shirts, you can feel good knowing that Oaklandish does a ton of good for the Oakland community. From donating merchandise for charity events to giving grants to community organizations, Oaklandish does way more than make you look good in jeans.

Nothing makes me feel truly moved into a place quite like plants. And nothing is worse in a drought than needy Seattle-inclined plants that wilt after a day without water. Dry Garden is the best place in the East Bay for sustainable, drought resistant plants. The nursery, located near the border of Berkeley, is a friendly, locally-owned, vaguely magical plant paradise. The knowledgeable employees are an added bonus.

If you are looking to fill some empty shelves post-move, check out The Bookmark book store, a small, volunteer run shop that donates all proceeds to the Oakland public library. The place has a great collection of pocket books (perfect for Bart commutes) and a $1 dollar section for the bargain inclined.

If you are tired of unpacking, or are thinking about getting out and actually meeting people in Oakland, The New Parkway Theatre is a great option. There are free community events here nearly every night of the week (think bingo, trivia, and open-mics), and the place has the hodge-podge, lived in feel of an artist’s living room. In addition to bringing people together in ways that don’t require money, the theatre rents out space for nonprofit community events and makes a point of showcasing local filmmakers. 

Out of the Closet


This small thrift store has a good selection of books, home goods, and clothes. The prices are great, the employees are friendly, and all the proceeds go to supporting the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The store is open until seven every day but Sunday, and periodically has fabulous sales on already low-priced merchandise.

This lumber supplier’s mission is to provide certified, reclaimed, sustainable and environmentally healthy forest products for a range of indoor and outdoor products. The periodic parking lot sales that they host, which include both raw lumber and furniture, make this both an eco-friendly and budget friendly choice for new movers. 

Though this place seems at first glance to be a store-sized garage sale of a former teacher with a hoarding problem, it is one of the best places for East Bay project lovers. I have found great frames, prints, chairs and books here for outrageously good prices. Not only does the store keep discarded materials from landfills, it also supports the Oakland community by donating to local organizations and hosting art education events.

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Nina Foushee
Nina is a freelance writer and tutor based out of Berkeley, California. When she was younger, she thought she wanted to be a rabbi. Today, she wants to look at history and ethics through stories and creative nonfiction.

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