June 25, 2012
I am ecstatic to announce that Yoko and I will be opening a real-deal brick and mortar store in Oakland, California!!! This all happened very quickly for us and these last few weeks have been filled with meetings, many trips to the hardware store, more meetings, and lots of painting. The construction will come soon enough, then, we will open our doors in August!
This all started when we had our pop-up inside Piper + John General Goods, back in May, remember? Yoko and I had already started scheming about one day opening our own brick and mortar space, where Umami Mart and our online shop could come to life. Miraculously, Pop-Up Hood, a retail start-up initiative in the Old Oakland district of the city invited us to join the community. The deal? We get six months rent-free, and if it proves to have traction and signs of profitability and success, we sign a lease.
It was pretty much a deal that we couldn’t pass up.
That was all decided about a month ago, and it’s been a whirlwind of action since. Anders aka Mr. Skankynavia, a massively talented designer and illustrator in Copenhagen, had talked about visiting Berkeley for the summer. Yoko and I thought immediately to get him involved, and he generously agreed to help us design the interior of our shop. After some back and forth, the concept of our space has been realized — think Shinto meets Scandinavia. Lots of white, red and accents of gold. Clean, minimal, with lots of wood and greenery. We can’t give it all away yet, but the sneak peak is the exterior of the shop, above. It’s going to blow your socks off.
Anders has even redesigned our logo!
The image in the circle is our new Umami Mart kamon, or family crest. Every family has one in Japan, and since Umami Mart is a family, it is only fitting that we would have one too. The image conveys a vegetal sprout — a symbol of nurture and growth. It represents our family in such an elegant way.
The shop will land in a former gallery space:
It’s quite long and narrow, but it’s a gorgeous space that is all ours! For all our wares, and all our events! After much consideration, we’re calling the store Umami Mart. I guess it was the natural choice, but after having been in the online sphere for so long (over five years!), it is pretty surreal that we should inhabit a REAL! LIFE! space. We’ll be filling up the space with even more barware from Japan, as well as glassware, coffee and teaware, and various kitchen accessories — just as we do online. In the future, we hope to sell food items from Japan, but that will be down the line.
Yoko and I, with the gracious help of Norma, Johnny and Tyler, spent the last week strenuously sanding the walls (they were pretty filthy) and painting our asses off.
The next month will be a huge construction push to get everything together in time for our big opening on August 3. Yikes!!
But like it’s always been for Umami Mart, this will be a huge community effort of friends and family — a labor of love. Since 2007, Umami Mart has been a wonderous journey of food reporting from all around the world, and in 2010, we launched the Umami Mart Shop online, selling bar and kitchenware from Japan. As we move into a brick and morter space in REAL! LIFE!, on Planet Earth, Yoko and I are inspired by all the support and knowledge we’ve received from everyone, and excited for our new venture in Oakland, California.
We hope to see you at our opening on Friday, August 3!