One sense that can really transport you to somewhere else, even if it’s just in your imagination, is the sense of smell. The fragrance of lavender puts you in the middle of lavender fields in Provence. The freshness of Meyer lemons take you to your grandmother’s backyard. And perhaps the scent of vanilla takes you to the jungles of Madagascar.
Walk into the Oaktown Spice Shop in Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood and there’s no telling where you may end up.
Opened in December by John Beaver, who worked for years at a spice store in Wisconsin, Oaktown Spice Shop is a quaint spice shop with the vintage touches of a small-town shop with the polished presentation of a high-end gourmet store.
You’ll be mesmerized by the displays of colorful spice blends, hand mixed by Beaver, along with sights of drying peppers, Hawaiian salts, and an entire shelf of smoked paprika. You can purchase bottles of vanilla extract or sticks of cinnamon, or choose your own amount of herbs.
The store is located across the street from Lake Merritt near the Grand Lake end, on the same side of the street as the Sidebar restaurant. It might be a bit away from the slew of stores in the heart of the Grand Lake neighborhood, but everyone who walks in seem to be excited to discover this new neighborhood specialty shop.
Oaktown Spice Shop, 530 Grand Ave., Oakland. PH: 510.201.5400. Open Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays). More information on its Facebook page.
I love the set up of this tiny store, so I asked Beaver if he’d allow me to shoot some photos, which he graciously agreed to. You can view more photos in this slideshow, which, as always, can be permanently found in my Exhibits section.
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