Shoppers looking for big-screen TVs and video game consoles at the Holiday Buy Night on Jack London Square on Thursday night would have been disappointed. But the waterfront market would have been just the place to find hand-printed T-shirts, plates with scenes of Oakland, dresses, a menorah carved from stone, stationary, handcrafted jewelry and unique offerings that no Wal-Mart could come close to.
The goods ran the gamut from elegant earrings, shawls and necklaces to a miniature set of the Oakland Raiders' starting lineup, complete with a tiny model of running back Justin Fargas.
"It's great to see this many independent artists under one roof," said David Huff, of Pro Arts, one of the sponsors of the nocturnal waterfront bazaar. Bringing together artists, artisans and independent business people helps Oakland's "creative ecosystem," Huff said.
It also takes the legwork out of knowing who is independent and local, he added. "These are places I am more likely to support in the future," Huff said. "It shows we all support each other."
The two-day event, which also was held Friday, sprang from an earlier collaboration between the operators of Jack London Square, Oakland Unwrapped, Oakland Grown and Pro Arts Gallery.
All merchants invited to participate in the "mall-ternative" belonged to one or more of the three lead organizations, said Erin Kilmer-Neel, the mastermind behind Oakland Unwrapped, the online portal where shoppers can
In keeping with that theme, nearly everything at Holiday Buy Night — from the Babe Ruth dolls to the jasmine-scented lotions — was offered by independent merchants who do not have a fixed business address.
The 70,000-square-foot Jack London Market hall gave organizers a place with a roof and four walls to hold the biggest independent-vendor, artist-based show in the East Bay, according to Margo Dunlap, executive director of Pro Arts.
The bazaar was held at night to reduce competition with other merchants, Dunlap said.
The half-finished hall, scheduled to open in April, gave merchants a place to showcase their work to potential customers actively shopping for holiday gifts. "Holiday Buy Night" also facilitates networking among artists, said Laureen Mahler, of Volta Press.
"It's always interesting to see what can happen in Oakland," said Eleanor Hanson, co-creator of The Present Group, which was selling T-shirts with "I (heart) art" printed in the upper left corner.
"I just want to support this kind of event," said co-founder Oliver Wise. "I just want it to continue."
For details, go to www.jacklondonsquare.com.