At West Oakland’s Eternal Now, an Artistic Oasis is Open for Business

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Interior view of wooden stairs lined with books, small display tables
Eternal Now offers a careful selection of books, records, cassettes and VHS. (Aryk Copley)

Stepping into Eternal Now feels like entering another country. On Friday, Aug. 26, the combination bookstore and record shop, housed within an inconspicuous black building on West Oakland’s San Pablo Avenue, was packed almost to the brim to see rappers and producers Alexander Spit and Ovrkast. Will Bundy, one of the shop owners (and former director of the mini-festival Feels), was handling purchases and drinks while Spit made beats live.

When it’s not acting as a show venue, the shop, which opened its doors at the start of June, is a calming escape. Light bounces off the white walls; the vibe is a beachside villa. Bundy, along with Ali Madigan, the lead designer on the space, and Jared (Stretch) Schwartz, Bundy’s business partner, make up the Eternal Now team. Bundy and Schwartz handle the inner workings of running the store, including the customer-facing day-to-day activities, and Madigan manages the design duties.

Door open on sidewalk in black-painted facade.
Eternal Now's unassuming storefront on San Pablo Avenue. (Aryk Copley)

“I want people to feel like they’ve entered a portal into something new, or an oasis, or into a space where they can really get lost in a book, or into the music they’re listening to,” Bundy explains. The store’s hours are limited (Saturdays and Sundays, 1–6pm and by appointment) simply because this is not only a storefront for Bundy. He lives there too.

Behind the Eternal Now storefront lies “The Palace,” the space Bundy and Madigan have called home for the last five years. The storefront and living space have morphed dramatically over time. In the 1930s, it was a bar; 30 years later, it briefly became a laundromat. When Bundy and Madigan moved in, they used what is now the store as Madigan’s workshop, where she would work on set and clothing designs.

“When we came, it was a lot of windowless rooms and old drywall, and we just basically ripped everything out,” Madigan says.


That empty space was a blank canvas for Madigan’s approach to interior design: The Palace was where she tested out ideas with mirrors, curved white planes, small seating areas, geometric shapes and exposed brick. For Eternal Now, Madigan used wooden stairs, metal railings and a lofted platform to create a listening station. “We really played that up, sort of this idea of this secret palace in the back,” she says. (It makes for a great Instagram backdrop too.)

Close-up view of rack of cassettes
Cassette tapes for sale at Eternal Now. (Aryk Copley)

“This was our space together, so when Will started to put together the concept of the shop, it was really a no-brainer to design the shop as an extension of the design back here in The Palace,” Madigan explains.

Building out the shop took them six months. At the beginning of 2022, Madigan was in a severe car accident that impacted her ability to walk, let alone physically work on creating a new world. So while she began the store construction, she also started the recovery process, and it became a part of the story of Eternal Now.

“It kept me still and kept me here in the space 24/7 for months, and that was unexpected,” she says. “A silver lining there was that I was able to be in the space all the time, and I connected to it in a completely different way.”

Opening Eternal Now up to others and watching people relate to a space the co-owners poured so much time and energy has been astonishing for the team. Schwartz describes seeing people inside the store as a surreal experience. No many people get to see their hopes manifest as precisely as planned. “It’s a little bit of a trip, opening up your home in this way,” Bundy says. “Mostly, it feels really good. People have said such kind things about the space and are just really here for it.”

Colorful books and records in a white wallled and floored space
Looking down at the store from the lofted listening station. (Aryk Copley)

Since opening, the co-owners have felt the support of the local community. “I feel like it’s making Oakland feel both bigger and smaller at the same,” Bundy explains. He describes the store as a home for beautiful objects. And though the shop is clean and serene, Eternal Now isn’t sterile. The books, cassette tapes, vinyl records, and magazines add color to the decor. Bundy encourages people to explore the store and the things in it. Visitors can read the books on the shelves, take the records out of the plastic and listen to them, or just relax and take in the atmosphere.

In this space, Bundy, Madigan and Schwartz can support the art of the people they love in the Bay Area. Soon, they will partner with the San Francisco nonprofit Southern Exposure to present artwork by local artists.

“It has been more fulfilling than I even anticipated or could’ve even imagined,” Madigan says after the long months of work. “Having the space open to the public, and seeing that happen.”