by Ken Katz
For much of the past year and a half, Lake Merritt has been a major bone of contention, with tempers rising over the proliferation of vendors setting up shop on Lakeshore and Grand. Their presence has raised an abundance of concerns, including increased traffic, noise, and littering. Unfortunately, the Black International Marketplace of Oakland (BIMOO), which is officially sanctioned by the City of Oakland and currently located in the Embarcadero Plaza on Saturdays and Sundays, may have been smeared by the same brush and to some extent lost in the shuffle.
This past Sunday, we hooked up with BIMOO founder Jim Copes, who worked as a tennis coach in Oakland and the greater SF Bay Area back in the 70s and 80s. In the early 1990s, old-timers may also recall that he had a storefront on Lakeshore and another at Eastmont Mall, both of which closed after a total of eight burglaries and two robberies at the Lakeshore location. Eventually, James reemerged as a street vendor, which is how more recent arrivals to the neighborhood have become acquainted with his Old School Copes truck at the corner of Lake Park and Rand. James started BIMOO early last year as members of the black community who were disproportionately unemployed due to COVID began congregating at the lake. He sees the marketplace as an ongoing opportunity for mostly black members of the community to reach out to a clientele they’re not likely to find elsewhere. We’d visited the market a couple of weeks earlier and were struck by how mellow the scene was. On this second visit, Jim happily introduced us to some of his favorite vendors, starting with Claude Lockhart Clark.
Mr. Clark’s father, was an internationally known artist whose work was featured in a couple dozen one-man shows during his long, distinguished career. It’s obvious that his son, perhaps best known for his wood carvings, inherited some really good genes. In the center photo above, he’s holding a copy of The Wood Carvings of Claude Lockhart Clark by June Anderson. On the left are some of the walking sticks he’s been carving out of white oak. Most of his business currently is, however, focused on apparel (on the right) and tote bags that feature his photos of various cultures–a product line he developed in partnership with wife, Jian Ying Pan. This past Sunday, Claude also had a box of marvelous photos that he’d shot in China–matted and ready to be framed. Originally priced from $25–$45, the special marketplace price is substantially less. FYI: Look for Claude on Sundays only.
Adrienne Spellman’s Jaden Moon Website says this about her products:
We manufacture earth friendly hair and body products. We’ve spent years testing and blending raw ingredients with personal fragrance and natural essential oils to produce welcoming results in the form of enhanced body lotions, body butters, soaps and hair products.
What the website neglects to tell you is that everything is also beautifully packaged, and the soaps look like works of art good enough to eat. To learn more about how she came to do what she does so well, we highly recommend a 2016 CEO Chronicles video made when she had a shop in Marina Del Rey. Originally from the Bay Area, she has returned and now operates out of studio space on 7th Street in Berkeley.
As we approached the “Accessed by Luckiee” booth last Sunday, Luckiee was in the middle of a knitting project–a pursuit she picked up when she was pregnant and looking for something to keep her busy. Eight years later, she’s doing just that and more as her business now also encompasses books, catering, beauty products, accessories, and office supplies.
If you have a favorite sports team or simply want to look UNEEK and in STYLE, Jamaz Pearson (right) has the perfect cap just for you. Check out his Instagram page or, better yet, head down to the Black International Marketplace on Saturdays and Sundays.
Operating hours for the marketplace are 11am–6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The agreement with the City currently runs through November, but Copes and all the vendors are hoping to make the market permanent in this location. The number of vendors participating ranges from twenty-five to a maximum of fifty. For more background information about this event, we recommend this August 23 report broadcast on KALW.
A semi-retired antiques dealer, Ken Katz founded the Splash Pad Neighborhood Forum in late 1999 and, in his role as Chair, coordinated the community efforts to lobby for a new park and subsequently served as a liaison to the City of Oakland and to Walter Hood’s office during the planning process. The first Splash Pad Newsletters were emailed beginning circa 2006. Currently, he acts as an editor, contributor, and publisher of the online Splash Pad News. Keila Diehl proofreads all the copy, filters content as needed, and makes us look our very best.