FLAX art & design, a venerable establishment displaced from Market Street in San Francisco by yet another condo project, has found new life in Oakland, with Thursday's opening of a spacious and light-drenched store.
"It's just another sign that people are recognizing the incredible value, vitality and hotness of this city," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told KQED's Tara Siler at the opening-day celebration. "And FLAX is really meant for Oakland ... this is a family-owned business ... so it's perfect to place this in a city with so much artistic energy and legacy -- so close to public transportation and in the center of the Bay Area, where all artistic souls can get here conveniently."
The store's third-generation owner, Howard Flax, said: "This is definitely an underserved market and the more that we talk to different people in the community, and the more that we get to know Oakland and the greater East Bay, there are a lot of pockets of artists here. And we just look forward to connecting with each and every one of them, and partnering and collaborating to grow the arts in the East Bay."
The beloved family-owned business has been around for almost 100 years, starting out in New York City in 1918. Its first San Francisco shop opened in 1938 on Kearny Street. A few incarnations later, it moved to Market Street in 1981, but its lease expired last year. A Fort Mason store debuted in November. The 15,000-square-foot Oakland location, a former auto repair shop at 15th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, offers storage, a back parking lot and proximity to public transit -- all things that Flax was looking for.