In memories yet green: goodbye Sears, hello Opportunity!

Sears: will it close the Oakland store in Uptown soon?  If so, good riddance!  Read more at sfIST.  (Note: Oakland Sears closing is complete conjecture at this point!)

The best thing that could happen to Uptown Oakland Sears is emptying and gutting it, seismically inspecting it and fixing if needed ($$!), putting in walls and stalls, creating a look down/up atrium indoors like Westfield-Bloomingdales has (Oh wait, we have the Rotunda building already), and turning it over to a mix of Chinatowners, Phil Tagami, Roy Alper and indie businesses a la PopUpHood — creating a Richmond 99 Ranch type mall. Maybe add F21+H&M to attract the “youth” market. And pop those windows for views of Uptown, the Lake and the Bay!

This week’s “big news” from Sears of 100+ store closings is actually a drop in the bucket, as Sears Holding Corporation has been rationing/ portioning out its store closings.  They’re also a mix of “brands” — Great Indoors, Kmart, Sears, etc.  There were actually 100 “other” store closings this year already! Click here for the list of pre-existing store closings.

The writing’s been on the wall for 1st world consumerism since Limits to Growth came out in the 70s. We all just kept spending thanks to increasingly large amounts of credit, now all poofed away.

As for the land itself, it’s potentially quite valuable: located on and above three BART lines (Fremont-Richmond, SF-PB, SF-Richmond), close to many intriguing eating and entertainment venues, and close to many apartment buildings as well as Kaiserville and what passes for Oakland’s Financial District.

Potential future tenants, current zoning notwithstanding:

  • the profitable non-profits of Mayor Quan’s largesse,
  • City of Oakland retirees and other retirees (sound-insulated old folk’s home on top floor or two),
  • lofts for The 5% and their hipster relatives (if retiree pensions get haircuts),
  • Can we all say at the same time: Bowling Alley! 😛
  • All hours Japan-style “love hotel” for nightlife lovers/ couples in the area (perfect: underground parking, close to transit, close to TONS of bars, restaurants and concert venues) on one floor (also sound insulated; no windows — I’d be happy to find some investors for this)
  • Mainland Chinese seeking permanent residency in the US.

What am I missing?  Anyway, Sears will be missed, but not by too many.  Their core demographic now shops WalMart and Target aplenty, sometimes the corner hardware store, and more often than not, Restoration ‘Hardware.’

4 responses to “In memories yet green: goodbye Sears, hello Opportunity!

  1. A most interesting post. I remember what downtown Oakland was like around 1982.

  2. Cool, thanks for visiting! What was your experience like?

    I wasn’t here back then, so I have to rely on Google News Archives from 1981-82, which are pretty interesting:

    * Raiders moved to LA
    * Caldecott Tunnel Inferno (bus hits gasoline tanker)
    * Oakland Crime Fund Loses Vote:,5716602&dq=oakland+crime&hl=en

    And that’s about it. I guess this is before or around when Oakland’s CIA-Oliver North-President Reagan-provided crack nightmare started.
    One example of media coverage of “oakland crack” epidemic from September 1984:,2011625&dq=oakland+crack&hl=en

    1981-1982 news search:,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=4db18f81763b5f8f&biw=1366&bih=667

  3. Do you even know what you are talking about?!? Good riddance to Sears? That Sears employs about 100 people or so! Some of these people have been working for sears since it first opened. Sears will leave many people unemployed and in this economy it is a lot harder to find a job. Most of these employees are putting their children through college working 6 days a week. Most of the young people are determined college students working the stress of retail and college work. Yes the building is old, it’s historic for god-heavens sake! Do you know that you can’t do many of the things your saying? Sears isn’t allowed to change anything of the building. Not the floors, plumbing or even adding another level to the store. Also, Sears owns the building in case you didn’t know, therefore they will loose more money closing it down than keeping it open. So before you state your opinion make sure that you know what you are talking about, instead of rambling on pure ignorance!

  4. Hi Alex, it’s odd that you say Sears owns the building, yet they can’t change anything of the building. If you owned a house but couldn’t change a thing about it that would seem strange.

    Sears building is not listed as either Oakland Landmark or National Historic Plan:,%20Existing%20Properties%20on%20the%20National%20Register%20of%20Historic%20Places,%20Oakland%20Landmarks.pdf
    Nearby buildings are however: Roos building, Cathedral/Retail building, FOX, Paramount, Kahn Dept stores…

    The only thing preventing Sears remodeling and renovating the space is their own lack of funds and the corporate/Wall Street model of pursuing short term gains only. Sears contributes $0 in retail taxes to City of Oakland.

    I’m not saying the store is completely useless: I’ve purchased the odd tool there before. But not many people shop there. Whenever I’ve gone in, at any time of day or day of week, it feels like a North Korean or Soviet show-off mall, where they try to pretend that regular people live fabulous lives, but there are no shoppers, or very few shoppers.

    It’s great that Sears is providing some part-time minimum wage employment for a few Oaklanders… I hope they are all doing well, and that the store is actually performing well if it is still open. It just looks like a loss leader to me, or not very profitable, so I can’t help but wonder when Sears Corporation will decide to close up and leave a big gap.

    It would also benefit the store if they would re-open the Emporium Capwell entrance into the store from 19th Street BART station… but that would require imagination and ambition, things absent from, or repressed, at most corporate organizations.

    So what is going on in the top 3-5 floors at Sears? Warehouse space? What a lost opportunity!

    Thanks for commenting.

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