Grand Avenue West of 580 – August 2014


Hello, Neighbors! Watch this space for monthly news and notes about tasty gems, handy services, art, and changes on Grand Ave., west of 580. LZ

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Harper Greer: Clothing with a Curvy Style

John & Terry Kiskaddon, Harper Greer owners
John & Terry Kiskaddon

This month we stroll uptown on Grand Ave. to visit Harper Greer, a clothing store that caters to women who appreciate quality and old-fashioned service with a personal touch, and for folks who want to have FUN shopping.

Terry Kiskaddon is the founder and designer of the Harper Greer clothing line. Her husband, John, is co-owner, front-of-the-store charmer and entertainer. Both are deeply informed about fashion, fabric and fit — self-described “curators” of a collection of clothing, made from beautiful fabrics with wonderful sewing quality.

The spirit at the store is pure fun. John says, “It feels almost like owning an ice cream store. Our customers are the best because they love the beautiful clothes they find and how beautiful they look. We are in the make-women-look-great business.” At anytime you may see John merrily encouraging a client to try this, that or another outfit combination, playing the grand piano that sits in one corner, comparing wine or restaurant recommendations with visitors, or chatting with a passerby who has dropped in to ask when the JazKatz will perform next.

Harper Greer accessories
Harper Greer accessories

Initially, Harper Greer featured stylish fashions in sizes 14-26, but expanded its lines to include sizes 8-12 due to enthusiastic customer demand. “We have a discerning eye and are very picky. We will not let a client leave with a product that is not perfect for her. We will help a client try 100’s of items to find 10 gems,” says John. The store carries many separates that can be mixed and matched, and works with a local tailor to make final adjustments to ensure a perfect fit.

Harper Greer not only sells its own line of Harper Greer fashions, but also Citron, URU, Comfy and others of similar quality. The store features clothing designed and created in the Bay Area or Los Angeles. Terry adds, “We sell scarves, jewelry, handbags, socks and tights and lots of other accessories. We also carry Joanne Mullin one-of-a-kind re-styled jackets and scarves. They are unique, beautiful and truly art-to-wear.”

Harper Greer fashion sale racks
Harper Greer sale racks

Terry and John launched Harper Greer over 30 years ago, selecting the perfect name for their enterprise the same way many of us select names for our loved creations – by browsing through a baby names book. Harper Greer first operated as a wholesale provider to Macys, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and others, then as a storefront in San Francisco’s SOMA (in 1988, before it was a tech center), and on Sutter St. (from 2007 through 2010).

They navigated the recession selling online and via home parties until re-opening in Oakland’s Uptown on November 2, 2012. As Michael Horton commented in his Jan.-Feb. 2014 article, “Re-Occupy Oakland”, in the Oakland Magazine,  “In many ways, the Kiskaddons . . . represent a big part of what [Oakland] hopes will be the future . . . — an enlivened and growing retail culture.”

John Kiskaddon playing pianoMORE: The JazKatz is a local jazz quintet that plays occasionally on Thursdays, at philanthropic fundraisers (including Bread & Roses), and at private parties. The group is composed of John Kiskaddon (keyboards), Bill Essert, owner of Wooden Window (trumpet), Peter Fetterolf (trombone), Rex Vector (drums & vocals), and Jeremy Sherman (bass & vocals). Give John your email address if you would like to be notified of up-coming performances.

TIPS: The store usually closes at 6 p.m. on weeknights, but John affirms, “If people are shopping, we’re staying.” This Tuesday, Aug. 5, the store will stay open until 9 p.m. to participate in the Uptown Block Party for National Night Out. They will celebrate the neighborhood by providing music, refreshments, and “fermented grape products.” Come shop the sale that is underway, making space for fall/winter fashions by offering 20-70% off summer/early fall fashions, including the luxurious Fanny Blouse (which I notice is sold-out on most online sites today).

43 Grand Ave. (between Webster & Broadway)
Oakland, CA 94612
510-899-5622 / 866-244-5557
Mon-Fri 10-6
Sat 10-5