August 25, 2023
August 25, 2023
Thursday, August 16, saw a packed house at 1955 Broadway, site of the historic Uptown Station building — which houses the Block, Inc. (formerly Square, Inc.) offices — in downtown Oakland. Local residents, East Bay officials, community leaders, nonprofit organizers, and Block employees showed up to celebrate the opening of Uptown Market, a retail space for vendors from Oakland’s cultural markets. The market is the latest addition to Block’s Community Hub, a multi-use space centrally located on the building’s ground floor.
To create Uptown Market, Block collaborated with Black Cultural Zone (BCZ), a nonprofit working to support small businesses and residents in legacy Block communities. BCZ decided to curate a Best of Oakland concept and put out a community-wide call for proposals, from which it selected vendors from the city’s most notable cultural markets for the space’s four retail counters and food-and-beverage stall.
Ahmed Ali Bob, Block’s Social Impact Lead and Oakland native, kicked off the event before passing the mic to Block’s Head of People, Felicia Mayo.
Ahmed Ali Bob, Block’s Social Impact Lead and Oakland native, kicked off the event before passing the mic to Block’s Head of People, Felicia Mayo. “The Community Hub is the culmination of Block's purpose of economic empowerment and our focus on being intentional neighbors in Oakland,” said Mayo. “The idea for this project started back in 2019, when we were speaking with community partners about how we could be supportive members of the neighborhood. We received a resounding response related to uplifting local businesses, preserving local culture, and creating meaningful economic opportunities for local communities.”
Following Mayo, we got a chance to hear from speakers including Carolyn Johnson, CEO of the Black Cultural Zone; Miles Dotson of Sanctuary for Sustainable Artistry, creators of vendor Micro Market Go; Barbara Leslie, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President and CEO; Tara Lynn Gray, Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate; and Brett Bardelle, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee's Deputy District Director, who presented Mayo and Johnson with congressional certificates.
Uptown Market aligns with Block’s purpose of economic empowerment and commitment to supporting the communities where we work.
After the ribbon cutting, attendees browsed goods from Micro Market Go and AKOMA Market, including jewelry, handmade scented candles, artisan soap, sunglasses, apparel, ceramics, and more. Hungry shoppers enjoyed fresh wraps from Chef Lala and pound cake from East Bay favorite Pound Bizness.
Beyond the Uptown Market, the Community Hub features the Community Space, a free, reservable place where nonprofits can hold meetings and events — and an area for local art, available for purchase, curated by Bay Area Mural Program.
Come check out the best of Oakland at the new Uptown Market, open Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.