Fantasy Picks For Montclair Village

While making the regular stroll around the Montclair Farmers Market yesterday, it hit me that four prime storefronts are currently available for rent.  They are located on Mountain Blvd and La Salle Ave, right in the heart of these Montclair streetscape plans.

What a perfect opportunity for fantasy picks!  Even in this recession, there must be some kinds of shops we would embrace.  Given our penchant to travel to other Oakland districts, Berkeley and distant points, there are many possibilities.

Vision of Montclair (MVA)

Drumroll please…here are Today in Montclair’s fantasy picks to fill the open storefronts.  We have suggested different food and non-food options, and wonder if they could fly.

1 .  Vacant Jamba Juice store

  • Food – Offer Middle Eastern takeout, including authentic falafel, hummus, tabouli, salads, etc.  Why wait for the falafel stand on Sundays?
  • Non-Food – Open a store which sells specialty soaps, creams and other affordable spa goods.  Beyond the brand-name  items, local soap maker  Montclair Soaps and other regional suppliers would be prominently featured here.

2.  Former Knitting Basket shop

  • Food – Stock an old-fashioned store filled with specialty nuts, designer popcorn, spices, penny (dollar) candy, honey and syrup, etc.  We should have something besides chocolate in town.
  • Non-Food – Create a regional gift shop with items similar to what’s sold at Chabot Space & Science, the Oakland Zoo, East Bay Parks, etc.  This shop would have a green vibe, with all kinds of eco-friendly items too.

3.  Place next to A Great Good Place for Books

  • Food – Open a small  grill which sells Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian-style beefs.  This place would be unique in the area, and perhaps attract some non-Montclarions as well.
  • Non-Food – Ride the scrapbooking wave, with a shop/studio where you could draw, paint, decoupage, work on books, etc.  There’s already a mosaic shop in the village, which seems more arcane than this hobby.

4.  Old Argento Jewelry location

  • Food – Fill the Greek food gap by selling lamb, gyros, moussaka, pastichio and some great desserts.  The place could have a few tables but be supported by takeout, somewhat like the Flavors of India nearby.
  • Non-Food – Open a small store where everyone gets their electronics and phones fixed, with an on-site geek who really knows his/her stuff.  Batteries and other key supplies could be sold here too, for when things fail on us.

To burst the fantasy, these open storefronts may be with us a bit longer than anyone would like.  There must be retailers who seek out a nice, thriving village.  We would even patronize (gasp) chain outlets beyond these fantasy picks.

8 thoughts on “Fantasy Picks For Montclair Village

  1. How about something along the lines of Tumble and Tea on Telegraph…lots of kiddos around to play and parents/grandparents/nannies to have coffee and eat!

    Another idea…local movie theatre…with couches, pub food etc.

  2. Love the ideas and thought your readers and you might like to hear what is involved in bringing new businesses to the Village. First, the cost of rent in the Village is relatively high so maintaining a positive cash flow is critical for any new business considering locating in the Village. Shoppers might like a concept but if it doesn’t pull in enough revenue it can’t survive. Second, food outlets require special permits. Where an existing food outlet existed (Jamba Juice), it’s easy to continue with a food outlet new business. Where a non-food outlet existed (Knitting Basket, Argento, cleaners) not only is getting the food permit an issue but so is installing the right professional food equipment.

    With that said, the Knitting Basket location appears to have a new owner coming in. Can’t tell you who yet, but it sounds similar to one of your suggestions for one of the locations you mentioned. The other three locations mentioned are not finalized yet either, as is the vacant location on Moraga that Quality Cleaners just vacated.

    The Village Association works closely with realtors, property managers and owners to get the right mix of retail in the Village. We aren’t always successful in getting what we want but we are a voice for relaying what YOU as shoppers want and will support. So, let us hear from you at

    Roger Vickery
    Montclair Village Association

  3. Great ideas! I’ve been wishing I had the capital to do a craft/scrapbook/knitting/whatever kind of place like you described in #3 above — something like Spark in Boston (– here in the Village. Anyone wanna go halvsies? 😉

    Along the regional gift shop lines, I’d love to see someone do a local franchise of the Beehive Co-op in Atlanta ( — it’s a boutique featuring local designers and entrepreneurs, who all pitch in to help run the place.

    And I’d love to see more restaurants like the ones coming into the Glenview these days, and ones that stay open later. I’m excited about the new Metro place — hoping we’ll have a place to hang out after 6pm!

  4. There’s also a vacancy where Utopia used to be–a pretty big space with a great front window. I’d like to see a bakery go in there. : )

    -jake from A Great Good Place for Books

  5. Where’s the food? The Glenview neighborhood and Uptown Oakland are getting all the good stuff…Marzano, Flora, Bellanico, Mua, Tamarindo, etc.! Monclair is an awesome little village, but has NO draw (sorry, Crogans!)

  6. Well, maybe we need to issue a new and more pure “dining dreams” edition. Folks may patronize some of the restaurants here, but definitely leave the ‘hood for great meals.

  7. Well, nobody else is saying it but I must: why not have have a pub/bar? I know we have the Crogans bar area but what I’m talking about is a dedicated pub. I’m happy the Metro opened and serves wine and beer, but it’s still more of a cafe. A neighborhood watering hole that serves all types of liquid libations would be a nice addition. I know this is but a dream.

  8. I’m new to the Village and think we really need a cup cake shop…
    I wish I had the $$ to open it myself…

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