A historic warehouse dating back to 1917, located a short walk from the Jack London waterfront, is home to Oakland's newest pop-up business -- Something to Sell About, an estate sale and appraisal firm.
Operators Richelle Lieberman and Noah Harms decided to launch their business in the warehouse district as the holidays approach.
"I am a third-generation Oaklander, born and raised," said Lieberman, "and my partner, Noah, is a homegrown Berkeleyan."
Lieberman and Harms have been in the estate liquidation and appraisal business for close to 40 years. Many customers might remember their storefront on Park Street in Alameda.
Something to Sell About also participates in the monthly Alameda Point Antique Market, along with other antique shows around the Bay Area.
Their new location is 380 Fourth St., east of Broadway, between Franklin and Webster Streets. The building's exterior is not particularly remarkable, but once inside, the trussed aged timber ceiling with skylights calls out the nearly century-old nature of the structure. The 5,000-square-foot space is laid out with an emporium of goods, ranging from Victorian-era dining tables and chairs, rugs, paintings, estate jewelry, crystal, silver tea sets and antique dolls. There is even an antique carousel sleigh, awaiting Santa's arrival.
The warehouse was home to a produce storage facility for vegetables grown by an Alameda family who arrived in the East Bay from Italy in the 1880s. Later, in the 1970s, the Cobel Glass Company used the space to store its products.
The building was one of several clustered in the lower Broadway district, adjacent to the rail line that ran along Third Street. The rail line, operated by the Western Pacific Railroad, was the third transcontinental railroad to be established in Oakland.
In 1909, when the railroad started operating trains, the surrounding district began attracting small-scale manufacturing and warehousing. Harbor facilities and port wharves also began to multiply during the decade leading up to World War I. Many of the wholesale dealers were of Italian descent; Chinese dealers also conducted business in the district.
The 1920s were a boom time for Oakland and the district. A $10 million municipal bond paid for dredging the inner and outer harbors. Transportation brought the bounty of the Central Valley close and, for decades, the confluence of rail, port and truck transportation allowed for easy shipping near and far.
In the 1980s a new era dawned, as artists and entrepreneurs discovered that the historic warehouses, with their vast interior spaces, good light, affordable rent and flexible arrangements, made for attractive conversions to live/work studios and offices. At the beginning of the 21st century, nearly 900 new residential units were completed in either converted buildings or newly constructed housing. The integrity of the original industrial buildings gives the district its distinctive character, Lieberman said.
Customers of Lieberman and Harms sign up for email alerts to know when the next sale is in the offing. The website is www.somethingtosellabout.com.
"We'll be open the weekend of Nov. 17-18, and we hope people stop in and check us out." Lieberman said.
For a tour of the historic produce market and warehouse district, contact the Oakland Tours Program, either at www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours or by calling 510-238-3234.