Business Highlight: Makers Made

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By Shaun Chatrath

As you traverse through the sprawling urban landscape of Downtown Stockton, California, you will stumble upon a treasure chest of creativity – a vibrant and booming hub of artists, craftsmen, designers, and innovators. This creative cornerstone is none other than Makers Made – a nexus where artisan’s dreams take flight, crafting unique items that beat with the heart of the city.

Located in the San Joaquin Valley, Downtown Stockton has always been rich with history, culture, and a sense of community. This homegrown spirit is amplified at Makers Made, nestled amidst the lively Courthouse Plaza.

Makers Made Address:

306 East Main Street, Suite #207

Stockton, CA, USA

Makers Made, as the name suggests, is a woman/minority/veteran-owned downtown business where products are handcrafted by local artists, makers, and designers. Here, innovation and creativity meld to bring forth a vividly diverse variety of products, from unique handcrafted jewelry to one-of-a-kind household items and fashionable clothing. In addition, Makers Made sells a variety of plants that will give life to your space.

Central to Makers Made’s ethos is sustainability. Products there are not just made; they’re made responsibly. Many of the artisans prioritize eco-friendly methods and materials. With an emphasis on reducing waste and promoting sustainability, they bring to the table a range of products for the eco-minded shopper. In addition to amazing products, all new customers who shop in the store get a $5 coupon.

Makers Made owner Rochelle Brown stated the following: “We’ve expanded the amount of vendors we feature. We’re also located in a family-friendly environment [Courthouse Plaza]. You can go to the arcade, play games, eat, and shop in this space.”

Rochelle also stated that 20% of Makers Made sales go to the Parents by Choice Foster Youth Foundation and that Makers Made does Instagram live sales every Wednesday from 6 PM – 8 PM.

Furthermore, Makers Made fosters a sense of connection between the makers and the consumers. The direct discourse that can occur between the creator and the consumer – discussing the process, the inspiration, or even potential customization, instills an intimate dynamic that is far removed from the typical retail experience.

Regular events, workshops, and pop-up shops at Makers Made offer an exciting avenue for community engagement too. Through these activities, it introduces people to the rich network of talent within the city. The next time you find yourself in Downtown Stockton, make a point to explore Makers Made. Find a unique gift, meet an artist, take part in a workshop, or simply immerse yourself in buzzing creativity.

To contact Makers Made call: (510) 735-1333

Instagram – @makersmadellc

Faccebook – @MakersMadeLLC

Hours:

Tuesday – Friday (11 AM – 6 PM)
Saturday – (10 AM – 2 PM)

Business Highlight: Fiesta Mex

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By Shaun Chatrath

Fiesta Mex is a party supply and grocery store located at 545 E Channel Street in Downtown Stockton. If you’re hosting a fiesta or any other type of party, you can find everything you need here—from tablecloths and decorations to pinatas, and even groceries.

One of the best things about Fiesta Mex is their wide variety of products. They have a huge selection of decorations, including banners, streamers, balloons, and centerpieces in a range of colors and themes. Whether you’re throwing a birthday party, a Quinceanera, or a Cinco de Mayo celebration, you’re sure to find just the right decorations to make your party pop.

Fiesta Mex has a huge selection of piñatas. They have traditional Mexican-style pinatas, as well as more modern designs shaped like unicorns, superheroes, and other popular characters. You’ll also find all the candy and small toys you need to fill your pinata and make your guests smile.

Another great thing about Fiesta Mex is their affordable prices. Party supplies can be expensive, but you’ll find that most of the items at this store are priced very competitively. Whether you need one or two decorations or a whole party’s worth, you’ll be able to get what you need without breaking the bank.

In addition to their large selection and affordable prices, Fiesta Mex is also known for their friendly service. The staff is knowledgeable about all their products and can help you find just what you’re looking for. They can also offer suggestions and ideas if you’re not sure where to start with your party planning.

In summary, if you’re looking for party supplies in Downtown Stockton or nearby, Fiesta Mex is worth checking out. With a large selection, affordable prices, and friendly service, it’s no wonder why this store is a favorite among locals who like to party. So, head down to Fiesta Mex to get ready for your next fiesta!

To contact Fiesta Mex call: (209) 292-8145

Facebook – @fiestamexest2021

Hours:

Monday – Friday (9 AM – 7 PM)

Saturday – Closed

Sunday (9 AM – 5 PM)

Business Highlight: AirRaid Airbrush

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By Shaun Chatrath

AirRaid Airbrush is a local business in Downtown Stockton, CA that specializes in custom airbrushing services. Whether you’re in need of a personalized t-shirt, a custom-designed helmet, or even a full vehicle wrap, AirRaid Airbrush has you covered. 

One of the things that sets AirRaid Airbrush apart from other custom airbrushing shops is their attention to detail. They take the time to listen to each customer’s individual needs and work with them to create a unique design that perfectly captures their vision. Their talented artists expertly bring that design to life in stunning detail, ensuring that each piece they create is a work of art that customers will be proud to show off.

With a staggering variety of customization options, AirRaid Airbrush offers clients the sensational ability to choose precise colors and fonts or to add intricate details and designs. Each piece they create is truly one-of-a-kind.

Another factor that makes AirRaid Airbrush stand out is their commitment to using only the highest-quality materials and equipment. This means that their finished pieces are not only visually impressive, but also durable and designed to last.

In addition to top-notch airbrushing capabilities, this company provides a range of other services, including vinyl printing and laser engraving. They are equipped to handle a diverse range of creative projects, no matter how big or small.

But it’s not just the quality of their work that sets AirRaid Airbrush apart – it’s their dedication to their community. They have a long history of supporting local organizations and events and are always looking for ways to give back to the community that has supported them over the years.

AirRaid Airbrush truly is a top-notch custom airbrushing shop in Downtown Stockton, CA. With their impressive attention to detail, commitment to quality, and dedication to the community, they are a great choice for anyone looking for custom-designed art that truly stands out. Whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind gift or a way to make a statement with your personal style, be sure to check out AirRaid Airbrush at 233 E. Market Street, Stockton, CA 95202.

Sources

Airbrush Custom AirRaid Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/AirraidAirbrushing/

Business Highlight: Parents by Choice

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By Shaun Chatrath

Parents by Choice is a non-profit organization located in Downtown Stockton, CA. Founded in 2006 with a mission “to bring hope and healing to children, youth, and their families,” this remarkable organization provides adoption, foster care, and parent education services to our community.

Parents by Choice believes that every child deserves a safe and loving home. Through their adoption program, they provide comprehensive services to children who are waiting for a permanent family. They work with adoptive parents and children to ensure that the adoption process is a successful and positive experience for everyone involved.

In addition to their adoption services, Parents by Choice offers foster care services. Their foster care program aims to provide a nurturing environment for children who are not able to live with their biological families. They work with foster families to provide the training and support needed to care for children who have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect.

Parents by Choice also provides parental education services to families in the Downtown Stockton area. Their parenting classes and workshops aim to equip parents with the skills and knowledge needed to raise happy and healthy children. Their classes cover a range of topics including parenting techniques, child development, and communication skills.

The organization is committed to providing high-quality services to children and families in the Stockton area. They have a team of experienced and compassionate staff members who are passionate about their work; their adoption and foster care programs are highly successful; and their parent education services have helped countless families grow and thrive.

Parents by Choice relies on the support of the community to continue their important work. They accept donations from individuals and organizations who are committed to helping children and families in need. They also offer volunteer opportunities for those who want to get involved and make a difference in the lives of children.

In conclusion, Parents by Choice is an invaluable resource for children and families in the Downtown Stockton area. Their commitment to providing adoption, foster care, and parent education services has helped countless families grow and thrive. To learn more about the organization, check out our Doorways to Downtown video featuring Parents by Choice Executive Director, Tony Yadon. If you want to get involved or support their work, visit their website for more information!

Sources

Parents by Choice 2023 Website:

https://parentsbychoice.net/home/

Miner Avenue a catalyst to highlight improved downtown Stockton

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by Ben Sanchez

Cut your ribbon.

A buzzing sound lingered in the air near San Joaquin Street and Miner Avenue in downtown Stockton. I took a brisk walk from the office to find people gathering for the Miner Avenue Complete Streets ribbon-cutting ceremony. I can hear the sound grow louder as I round the corner off Channel Street. Days before, the Economic Development Department (EDD) dropped a flier on Instagram noting that on Wednesday, March 16, the community was invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The buzzing sound of a drone flying above the streets captured the new roundabout at the intersection. Standing in the middle of the roundabout, The Spire. A historic art fountain that once occupied Hunter Square was designed by Glen Mortensen. The new plaque on the base of The Spire bathed in sunlight. I bet you have seen Mortensen’s architecture in Stockton. More specifically, Burns Tower at University of the Pacific and the School of Pharmacy.

Mayor Kevin J. Lincoln arrived on scene along with several public figures presenting short speeches to the public. A row of easels showcased the before and after photographs on a long time project coming to the finish line.

What a long road it has been for Miner Avenue. Jodi Almassy, City of Stockton Director of Public Works, addressed the crowd explaining the “labor of love” that went into the project. Since 2008, the complexity of the project achieved funding from six separate sources with Siegfried Engineering as the lead design firm.

I navigated the crowd, saying hello to fellow community members and business owners who attended the event. We all stood together watching the mayor grip giant scissors. He lifted them into position awaiting the signal to cut the ribbon. Cue a short pause for the photo op moment. Looking at all the development in this area, I think back to last year when the team and I would film vlog footage near Miner Avenue.

Jodi Almassy addressing the public.

Transitions.

Throughout our walks of downtown, Miner was one of those areas with constant construction over the past winter. We veered and maneuvered our way past construction vehicles and workers who made progress block by block. The crew made us aware of the safety precautions along the sidewalks as they worked around the weather to pave streets.

Part of the footage can be viewed in our vlog episode 4 here (Or you might spot it in a reel on Instagram). You might remember sidewalk construction along Miner or certain cross streets shut down during this process last year. New bike lanes were installed with reduced traffic from four lanes down to two (Siegfried Engineering tells me this is called a road diet or lane reduction).

The impact on commuter traffic in downtown increased at this time as people discovered new ways to navigate their parking spots. Businesses along Miner started to view the transformation roll out over 2021. I know Beas Auto Sales kept customers aware through their popular Instagram stories. Their awareness to the situation at hand assisted customers who ventured downtown throughout construction times (Also their selection of lo-fi music used on Instagram is inspired by yours truly.)

The right time.

With businesses adjusting to downtown development, the question on everyone’s mind is, ”What is happening in downtown?” 

A question I am most certain Eric Alvarez, City of Stockton Deputy Director of Public Works, is asked frequently. Alvarez jumped on a Zoom call to talk to the Downtown Stockton Alliance about his role with the city. Several months before the ribbon cutting, Alvarez gave an overview of several projects throughout the city. You can watch his full interview here.

When asked about the Miner Avenue Complete Street Improvements project he said, “It’s taken a long time — Miner is a large project in terms of its length. But with anything, the driver is money. You have to have the money to see it through.” 

He noted a lot of minor details (see what I did there?) in his discussion about the project. Timing was everything when applying for funding on this project. Once grant funding was secured they had to find an ideal time to get to work with weather conditions and other challenges ahead. 

“It took 10 years to get from the idea to finishing the work,” says Alvarez. Throughout their continued efforts to improve Miner Avenue several agencies were involved in the process to complete the project including Siegfried Engineering, Salaber Associates, and George Reed noted as key consultants and contractors.

Hometown.

During the ceremony, I stood next to Chris Kay, Marketing Manager and Business Development at Siegfried Engineering. I am sure you know of Chris Kay. His accolades within the community speak volumes throughout the city. A family man, entrepreneur, leader, broadcaster, and overall just a wonderful human, he set aside some time to answer my questions about Miner Avenue. He shakes a lot of hands as people come up to greet him. Kay spoke about the key points with this project and how he worked directly with Alvarez and his team. “The city is an extension of our staff — it truly is a collaborative effort,” says Kay.

Over the course of conversation, Kay revealed this was a complex project that started years ago. “Our company was involved from the very beginning,” says Kay, “We assisted with grant writing and preliminary designs, and were the lead design firm on this project.” This is another significant milestone for the company. The northern and central California engineering firm has an incredible portfolio of roadway projects and improvement projects throughout California. Their expertise and insight offered the city a new perspective when designs were finalized (Remember that road diet we talked about).

As we gazed toward the Spire I asked him what his thoughts were with his firm bringing this idea to fruition. “To see it finished is amazing,” says Kay. “The long standing project complete is incredible to see in our hometown.”

Fun Fact:

You might not know this, but the development project on Miner is considered a ten block corridor. From the railroad tracks all the way to Center Street.

*Photo courtesy of Siegfried Engineering.

Check out businesses in previous vlog episodes on our YouTube channel!

Subscribe now and catch all new episodes in downtown Stockton.

Caffeine Dreams: Amazing locally roasted coffee on my mind

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by Ben Sanchez

This month, I ventured out with my intern to visit more spaces in downtown Stockton. From the Waterfront Warehouse to the spacious Sycamore venue, we wanted to share the local coffee spots here in downtown.

Coffee at Trail

Which one is your favorite?

Did we miss a coffee shop downtown?

How did you hear about the coffee shops?

What is your go-to coffee order?

Inquiring minds want to know!
Here is a quick recap of coffee runs with my team in downtown.  
 

Legendary Coffee & Books.

Always be legendary.

Located inside the historic Waterfront Warehouse, the well-lit, relaxing atmosphere is a great space to visit for Temple Coffee and local pastries. We dropped by during our vlog in episode 3 to try some coffee and taste the wonderful Gunther’s ice cream from Sacramento. You can catch Renee and I sitting at the table and chatting inside their lovely shop on the vlog episode here.

Since then, I have stopped by on a few occasions to get coffee and peruse the books along the shelves. For the unique photo op, the space has a nice wall with the vibrant “Be Legendary” font stretching across a leafy green backdrop. Every customer would snap a picture to share from their favorite spot to support the awesome people who serve us coffee in the morning. I took a photo just outside the side entrance by the fountain. If you are in the area, step inside the warehouse and grab your coffee fix.

Trail Coffee Roasters.

Blazing trail.

A large, open café in the renovated historic Owl Drug Store building on California and Main Street, Trail Coffee is another local favorite with multiple locations in Stockton and Lodi. With large display windows, an outdoor patio, and a well-positioned roaster room, there is plenty of space to sit back and enjoy coffee and scones.

Mentioned on the latest vlog episode, Matt and I recalled the days when Trail roasted beans behind the building on San Joaquin where Huddle started. We would ride bikes on Miner Street and swing around the alleyway with large art murals following the scent of coffee. You can read and watch our conversation on the latest vlog episode here.

You can find their coffee at a small shop on the University of the Pacific campus in Stockton, and a new location in Lodi. I’m more partial to their hot chocolate (good hot cocoa is hard to find), even back during the days of Huddle 1.0. The new spot downtown is spacious with tables, chairs, and a merchandise area to take home those lovely Trail mugs and shirts.  

Bonus: You can catch us hanging out on the outdoor patio at Trail with Amy Sieffert, owner of Goodstock Productions, in episode 4. Her team will sometimes work out of Trail in downtown Stockton.

Plaza Perks.

Tiny coffee shop.

Tucked away inside the Courthouse Plaza, this small café serves Cat & Cloud Coffee out of Santa Cruz, California. From sandwiches to breakfast burritos, every purchase goes toward helping a foster child in need. Throughout our adventures downtown, we delivered pizza to the staff, visited the arcade, and tried specialty drinks off the secret menu (I added tater tots in the breakfast burrito!)

I end up running into several community members and business owners here in this quaint hub. An iced white mocha is my drink of choice, but I advise heading to the Plaza before the crowds line up inside during the lunch hour. Every time I visit the cafe, their friendly staff always makes me feel welcome.

Empresso Coffeehouse.

Stockton staple.

Empresso Coffeehouse has not just one, but two locations in the downtown area! The longtime “staple of Stockton” serves locally roasted coffee near the IMAX movie theater in Janet Leigh Plaza. If you venture further downtown on N. San Joaquin Street, you will find a second location. Both locations offer indoor and outdoor seating. Empresso offers a variety of specialty drinks. For a quick breakfast sandwich, I stop by for an egg sandwich on a bagel with cream cheese and avocado. Sandwiches are made to order and come with several options. Each Empresso space is great to work out of the office for the day if you like that coffee shop vibe. 

Arte del Café.

Art and coffee blend.

The latest coffee spot to open inside the Mexican Heritage Center, this café is a place where people can explore a large, open gallery space displaying local art. My intern and I recently stopped by to check out the space. The gallery behind the cafe rotates art once a month and is open to the public. With vibrant colored art painted across the walls, the cafe specialties are Mexican style lattes and desserts. Visually stunning art encompasses the west wall with stairs leading up to a loft type area. Large display windows embrace a small stage for open mic events they host during the month. If you are curious about this space on Market and Sutter Street, stop in early to grab some fresh pan dulce before it’s gone!

Red’s.

Cozy classic.

The tiny espresso bar on San Joaquin Street is nestled right next to The Golden Rose Barbershop. The large A-frame sign points customers to the red frame door, where you can order fresh roasted, fair-trade coffee. With amazing photography hanging along the walls, many Stocktonians reference Red’s as their “early morning spot.”

If you are up and about in the early hours heading downtown, this is the spot people talk about when it comes to coffee. The owner is incredibly friendly as he serves the community downtown. Cold brew and dark roast are key recommendations from the community members who frequent Red’s. Drop by, grab a cup, and say hello to another local small business.

Coffee spot.

Share your #DowntownStockton experience 

While you’re exploring downtown – snap a photo and share it on social media with us! Be sure to tag us in your photos at @Downtownstockton and use the hashtag #DowntownStockton for the chance to be featured on our social channels. 

Check out businesses in previous vlog episodes on our YouTube channel!

Subscribe now and catch all new episodes in downtown Stockton.

Vlog Series: New Year, New Vlog

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By Ben Sanchez

This year, we brought Matt Amen to take part in our vlog series for a unique perspective of life in downtown Stockton. I remember meeting Matt at Huddle x Launch Pad to talk about the direction of the vlog for the new year. We discussed the idea for a few episodes based on someone who lives in the downtown area. Matt was instantly onboard with the idea of highlighting his normal routine in downtown Stockton. Whether he rides his bike or walks to work, he allowed us to film and talk about his life experience in downtown.  

“Let’s do a walk and talk in downtown!” he says. 

Matt Amen.

I joined Matt for a “day in the life” on his travels in downtown. Along the way, we dropped by Trail Coffee Roasters for coffee, dropped off laundry at Riteway Cleaners, made an appointment with The Golden Rose Barbershop, and then visited the new popup spot, DryCleaners. I learned a lot about some of the businesses here from Matt and the amount of knowledge he shares about each one. 

He loves downtown. He loves Stockton.  

He points to different art murals, filling my brain with information on the artist and concept behind these incredible visuals seen on the side of tall buildings. We stopped at Trail, chatting about scones, cruffins, and coffee. His vibrant red shoes tap against the floor. The unique, owl mosaic art greets our feet while we wait and chat about downtown. The coffee shop now occupies the historic Owl Drug Store building on the corner of California and Main Street. With a couple of warm cups of coffee, we venture off to The Golden Rose Barbershop to get a fresh cut. (Well, Matt gets a haircut anyway!)

A tiny detour.

On our walk down Main Street, across from the Chase building, we wandered into a building undergoing renovation. The dimly lit area stretches far back with random pillars and areas of paint beaming across the walls in vibrant orange, yellow, and purple colors. A business used to be here. “I heard it was called Disco Azteca,” the construction worker explained as we walk across the space. The building had been purchased by an investor with plans to begin work throughout the year.  

Every location has a story that Matt keyed in on. His energetic smile is contagious as the worker happily shares information about the project. “It was really great talking with you two investors,” said the construction worker. With a puzzled look on our faces, we both look at each other, sip coffee, and casually head for the door. Matt laughs as we exit the space. “Don’t you love little detours like that?” he exclaimed.  

Coats and Cuts.

I compliment Matt on his wonderful, pine colored coat. I drop a pop culture dialogue reference from Frank Miller’s Sin City. As the character Marv would say, “That’s one fine lookin’ coat you are wearin’ there.” Matt smiles, telling me the story behind the coat. His Uniqo tote bag, with a DSA teal beanie inside, hangs over his right shoulder as we enter the barbershop. The vintage shop, complete with several wide mirrors stretching across the walls, capture angles of human faces as they swivel in leather barber chairs. The giant scissor art chases a rose on the display windows lined with bulbs emitting a dimly lit glow into the shop. There is over 100 years of barbering history here. Something old, something new.

The previous customer steps off the chair and spent time chatting with us momentarily about video games before the snipping of blades was heard near the barber’s chair. Matt never missed a beat. His jovial expressions are seen from the mirrors as he talks to Stephen Herder, owner of Golden Rose Barbershop. Between cuts, my intern films the experience on a quiet day in downtown Stockton.

We lucked out with the weather, which can be quite windy as we walk down San Joaquin Street. The Golden Rose Barbershop has two locations, one downtown and another space on Miracle Mile (The latter space used to be Cal-Pine Barbershop on Miracle Mile). 

Once Matt finished in the chair, he sprung up to check his hair in the mirror before we ventured off to Shop DryCleaners. Cue the teal beanie reappearing from the Uniqo bag.

Shop Local.

Just one block from the barbershop, the DryCleaners sign is propped on the corner to greet the public. DryCleaners is a vendor popup selling sustainable clothing, plants, jewelry, and vintage items (Also a mini fridge with specialty drinks from Cuco Etc.) Matt is particularly proud of this because of the collaborative efforts between Huddle x Launch Pad, Cast Iron Trading Company, and DryCleaners. Located on the first floor of the historic Belding Building, DryCleaners popped up next door at Cast Iron before moving over into a bigger space.

“This is really exciting! We are bringing some new vibes to the block,” he says. 

The first floor is filled with a variety of products and items from vendors across California. With monthly scheduled events, and local musicians stopping by to perform at Cast Iron, the positive energy on the block is a welcome vibe for downtown.

He explained the collaboration with Oliver Opus, co-owner of DryCleaners, is bringing life near his area of downtown. Matt has always been an encouraging individual, inspiring Oliver and many others to continue their entrepreneurial venture regardless of the setbacks. “Sometimes it is easy to give up. I want them to succeed… I want to assist them anyway I can,” he says.

I hope you catch a glimpse of that when you watch the new episode of the vlog. 

What’s Next.

Regarding the future of the vlog, I am happy to announce that Matt will come back for another episode to highlight the night life downtown. We had fun exploring some of the businesses he frequents in downtown Stockton. I hope everyone will enjoy the episode when it drops in March 2022. If you like our video, be sure to share it with others to see the amazing places downtown.

Sometimes it is easy to give up. I want them to succeed… I want to assist them anyway I can.

Matt Amen

Businesses

Watch previous episodes on our YouTube channel!

Subscribe and catch all new episodes from Downtown Stockton Alliance.

Local co-op offers sanctuary for small businesses

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by Ayaana Williams

In the heart of downtown Stockton lies a hidden gem that is a symbol of local fashion, diversity, and creative influence for the adaptable nomads of the Central Valley.  

DRYCLEANERS, is an LGBTQ+/POC-owned co-op store that offers local vendors and creators an opportunity to network, showcase, and sell their goods/art. 

“The overall goal is to activate downtown and bring everyone together. We have lots of different communities here,” said Oliver Opus, co-owner of DRYCLEANERS. “We have the queer community, we have POC, we have the streetwear community, we have crafters and creators and musicians and drag queens, and this is a space where all of those people can co-mingle and experience each other’s worlds.” 

In terms of activating downtown, DRYCLEANERS aims to invoke liveliness and connection to bring excitement and opportunity to such an underappreciated part of the city. 

DRYCLEANERS is locally owned by long-time friends Ruschawn Williams and Oliver Opus, who met in Atlanta prior to moving to Stockton. 

“I moved here a while ago and I didn’t really have a place in Stockton for myself,” said Opus. “I didn’t have a place to meet people like me or express interest that I have, so I decided to create it myself.” 

Opus and Williams founded DRYCLEANERS after hosting several pop-up shops at Cast Iron Trading Co. and other local entities, using social media as an advertising ground. 

A pop-up is a temporary shared retail space where small businesses can sell goods and services. 

“Eric (Lee) next-door at Cast Iron was kind of one of the first people to allow me to venture into this,” said Opus. “He gave us the opportunity to do our first pop-up and that was really successful; and then we went on to do a second one here with Launchpad and that was so successful that Launchpad and Cast Iron had this idea to set up shop here, so we did.” 

DRYCLEANERS has visitors and vendors travel from all over Northern California. 

“Not only does this help us, but this also helps the community,” said Opus. “We do have people from San Francisco, Sacramento, and Oakland setting up shop here, but they don’t have to come here to sell their products; we have a system where we do that for them.” 

Vendors pay a booth fee of $5-$15 a day and DRYCLEANERS keeps track of each individual sale with 100% of sales profits going back to the vendor. 

Part of their goal is to support and uplift local artists by providing a platform to create passive income and build friendships that strengthen the community. 

“We typically have an application in our bio, and we don’t turn people away,” said Opus. “We wanted to create opportunities for vendors to make money during a pandemic and it’s really hard to come across funds.” 

People can find DRYCLEANERS on Instagram @shopdrycleaners as well as visit the storefront to meet the owners, vendors and local artists on San Joaquin St. in downtown Stockton. 

Dealerz Choice: Vibrant Makers

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By Ben Sanchez

Colorful clouds hang from the ceiling inside the Dealerz Choice store tucked away behind the Plaza Perks Cafe on the main floor of the Courthouse Plaza. The cloud colors cycle through blues, purples, and greens.

A projection screen flickers with pop culture content on the empty back wall of the shop. Rows of collectables sit side by side on shelves and vibrant colored custom apparel hang on clothes racks inside the space.

The Courthouse Plaza vibes are different nowadays in downtown Stockton. You can feel it when you swing the double doors open with an aroma of coffee and food lingering in the air. The bleeps and bloops of arcade noises emanate from the lower level. Yes, an actual arcade space is active on the lower level of the Courthouse Plaza with a painted mural on the wall. Random canvas art fills the lobby next to old photographs of downtown. There is a lot of history along these walls.

Businesses are open to sell their wares and services with decals spread across display windows. The hallway pinboard is filled with flyers promoting the latest events throughout the downtown area. A line of people wait to grab coffee to go and others, like myself, just happen to stumble into a unique interior mall structure in the heart of downtown Stockton.

Meet Michael Allen, Owner of Dealerz Choice.

From the outside, you would think walking through the doors lead to one main floor as you enter the building. The plaza is actually a 3 tiered building with lower and upper levels for office and work space. Michael Allen, owner of Dealerz Choice, hangs up new tie dye shirts and hoodies on the clothes rack. “How’s it going?” says Allen. We sat down to talk about the name and concept of Dealerz Choice.

The shop is not just selling collectables. The idea is to provide a platform to makers and artisans who have no storefront and give them a space to showcase their products.

Allen has been an entrepreneur all his life. When he started thinking about a business, he teamed up with local maker/artist, Alexander Garza, to develop an idea for a storefront that encapsulated all of their interests. With Garza creating art, they thought a co-op space for makers would be an ideal choice in downtown Stockton. “We needed a tangible space to show off what we can do — I wanted a space to show what he (Alex) can do. We had something to work toward and build on rather than do everything at home,” says Allen.

What is Dealerz Choice? Watch the video here!

Pop-up shop.

With new ownership at The Courthouse Plaza in downtown Stockton, Allen inquired about a new space opening on the main floor. “The Courthouse Plaza is a really great space — a cool atmosphere being renovated with major changes coming up for the building,” says Allen. Eventually, Dealerz Choice appeared like a rolling cloud, similar to the decor hanging from the ceiling.

Allen shared his vision for the business and along with Garza, they create a positive atmosphere in the downtown scene and within the Courthouse Plaza. “There is a lot of foot traffic happening downtown and we want to help add to that with what we do here in our space,” says Garza. 

The business provides a fresh perspective with the pop-up shop trend. However, the pop-up shop is here to stay. Makers and artisans constantly seek new avenues to locate spaces to sell wares and build brand awareness. A temporary pop-up for a maker can be a great stepping stone to owning a brick and mortar. Now that all the cards are in place, Dealerz Choice can offer the space to makers. “We want to be the place for local artists and vendors,” says Allen. “Vendors pay a monthly fee to utilize the space and we help promote their brand.” The businesses downtown, specifically with retail shopping, continue to see consistent growth in the surrounding area of the Courthouse Plaza. Ideally, Allen is looking to collaborate with as many individuals who are interested in being a part of the revitalization in downtown.

Onomatopoeia.

Customers may inquire about the cloud decor in the shop (they make custom clouds to order), but the logo is actually an onomatopoeia.

It is a jumble of all the things we are into. A little bit of everything.

It is eye-catching.

Michael Allen

Why downtown Stockton?

The Courthouse Plaza was a great opportunity to create a space here for vendors. We have amazing potential for future events in downtown.

How can the community support you?

Reach out to us on social media and stop by the shop. Stay in contact and share our upcoming events and vendor pop-ups.

How did you come up with the name of the business?

Dealerz Choice was kind of a joke at first, but we ran with it. The z is a trendy, retro thing. We were into shapes and the organization of letters. 

There is a lot of foot traffic happening downtown and we want to help add to that with what we do here in our space.

Alexander Garza

Vendor pop-up.

Did you know you could pop-up at Dealerz Choice?

“I want to continue providing a phsyical space for vendors and makers,” Allen says. While Dealerz Choice has only been open a few months, the shop hosted a large vendor pop-up on Stocktoncon weekend, collaborate with artists for a launch party, and continue the momentum by promoting future events at Courthouse Plaza.

Address: 306 E. Main St. STE 208
Phone: 209.353.9004
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday – Friday

Huddle x Launch Pad: Inevitable Destination

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By Ben Sanchez

The first floor of the historic Belding building on the corner of N. San Joaquin and Weber Avenue has large display windows for onlookers who will spot art hanging on the wall, and one small room with vinyl records on shelves. In the corner of the small room window is an ‘On Air’ sign facing the street.

Modern furnishings and plants populate the room to round out the space with a uniquely woven design of the Launch Pad logo placed along the side entrance wall.

Upon my arrival, a woman waited to enter the appropriate passcodes at another entrance to the main floors of Huddle x Launch Pad. I helped her contact Eric Bodary, Facility Operations Director, who maintains the front desk on the second floor.

Eric Bodary, Facility Operations Director.

We keyed in our not so secret codes and a signal was transmitted up to Bodary, who greeted us through the intercom. “I was expecting you. Come on up, I’ll buzz you through,” he says. The door buzzed and we all walked through the lobby waiting for the elevators to carry us up to the main floor.

Elevators ding on arrival and we took a ride up one floor to chat with Bodary about the coworking space in downtown Stockton. Bodary grabs mail for the woman and we say our goodbyes before venturing off on a tour of the second and fourth floors.

When I asked Bodary about Huddle x Launch Pad and how he explains the concept of coworking to people unfamiliar with it, he says, “We are like a rental office on steroids — we offer more than just a rental space.”

What is Huddle x Launch Pad? Watch the video here!

What is coworking?

For anyone unfamiliar with the term, coworking is a shared, professional workspace. However, several cowork spaces offer additional services including kitchens, meeting rooms, photo studios, private offices and more. Huddle x Launch Pad provides all of this within the coworking space downtown making it accessible for entrepreneurs in Stockton. 

The unique element about coworking is the people working in the space. During my time in coworking spaces across California, my experience with freelancers opened up a collaborative avenue of information and ideas. It creates a community.

There is something special and meaningful behind it that inspires your work. The people may not be familiar with you or the scope of work you do, but in a short period of time, the conversation is filled with high energy. A vibrant atmosphere encourages any freelancer renting a space for the day. It feels rejuvenating to meet others in the field working on similar problems. The unique interconnection between people creates a wave of positivity to discover solutions to those problems. The entrepreneurial spirit courses through the veins at these facilities with a modern feel, but containing an element of nostalgia within the historic framework of each building. This theme is similar to other cowork spaces I’ve visited from Sacramento, San Francisco, Tracy, and San Jose. 

Let’s make magic.

While we waited for the Community Manager, Matt Amen to arrive, Bodary shared his insight on being a part of the space where he met Matt in 2016. “I actually started at the original location on the first month they opened,” he says. “I signed up as a member, shifted over to helping out until finally being hired on.” Bodary is the guy working in the background, where Amen typically handles the front end of the business from tours to speaking engagements. The duo created magic by bringing more people into the space through events and community gatherings.

With the Stockton coworking space gaining national recognition for their work, Launch Pad reached out. The team partnered with Launch Pad over 2 years ago, and their grassroots efforts set the stage for expanding into the first floor of the Belding building. “Launch Pad was created out of New Orleans in a need for small business space after Hurricane Katrina,” Bodary says.

Matt Amen, Community Manager.

We head back down to the first floor just as Amen rides up on a bicycle. The timing was impeccable. “This is exciting,” he says. “I’m excited for what we can do in this place.” The small podcast room is readily available for entrepreneurs ready to dive in and create content on the first floor. While the conference room is still being prepared, furniture is placed and ready for entrepreneurs to start their dream. 

Amen has been busy in the background working diligently on providing a comfortable space for small business owners and entrepreneurs. “I wanted to help build a space I felt comfortable in and that the community can feel comfortable in,” he says. “I got to see this place grow and be a pillar in this community, especially our entrepreneurial community.”

Why downtown Stockton?

Downtown has a rich history. There are wonderful buildings and people here.

How can the community support you?

Check out our space. People are looking for something historic and new at the same time.

I wanted to help build a space I felt comfortable in and that the community can feel comfortable in.

Matt Amen

Create.

Did you know Huddle x Launch Pad has a photo studio on the 4th floor?

“We are calling it Studio 419,” Amen says. While the studio has only been open a month, the feedback from people who used the space has been positive. With incredible natural lighting and additional equipment for photographers on-site, the studio and first floor expansions are key milestones for Huddle x Launch Pad.

Address: 110 N. San Joaquin St.
Phone: 209.323.4389
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday – Friday