Black Business Owners Open Brick-And-Mortar Stores In Oakland Despite Crime Surge
Prideful Patchez and Theory Bar owners believe now is the time to pour into the Oakland community.
Despite recent crime issues, new Black-owned businesses like apparel shop Prideful Patchez and a new bar named Theory are opening with optimism in Oakland, California. Owners cite affordable post-pandemic rents and a desire to uplift their hometown as driving their investments.
KTVU spoke with Prideful Patchez founder Regina Harris, who seized an opportunity to establish a brick-and-mortar location, which opens Feb. 24.
Harris started her patch shop online in 2019 when she retired after 34 years as Oakland’s first female civilian 911 dispatch manager. Making patch displaying designs celebrating African American culture and experiences is her second career.
Initially, Harris explained, “the rent was too high” for a physical space as “everything was unreasonable.” The COVID-19m pandemic introduced lower rental prices in Oakland. “I felt this was it,” she said. “This is where I’m supposed to be.” As for the reports regarding crime, she decided to “roll with it.”
Fellow Oakland natives and bartenders Gabriel Holland and James Fortune likewise embraced risks by opening Theory bar and lounge on Telegraph Avenue. Holland called ownership “a dream come true.” It’s been a goal since discovering his mixology passion 10 years ago. “It’s hard, but like anything else, it’s also wonderful when you’re doing something that you absolutely love,” Fortune said. Holland agreed their business can make a positive impact.
The Theory team looks to double their space this month with an adjoining craft cocktail lounge. Like Harris, building something in one’s hometown brings them pride. “Oakland has a lot of problems right now. I’m hoping the city can figure this thing out,” the Prideful Patchez founder remarked.
According to CNN, Oakland crime increased in 2023 compared to other major cities in America that showed a decrease. Robberies in the California city grew 38%, burglaries jumped 23% and motor vehicle thefts increased 44%. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Feb. 6, the deployment of 120 California Highway Patrol officers to the city in an aim to “crack down on crime.”
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