Among the increasingly interesting array of stores and restaurants lining Telegraph Avenue in the Temescal District of Oakland inhabits one of the most unique and visionary stores I have found in a long time. I don't have a lot of spare time in general, so at this point a store has to capture my interest immediately or I am likely to forget it. In the case of WELL, they had me from the first moment I stepped up to the window.
Dubbed a "resource center for art design and balance, helping to connect independent designers and artists to the Oakland Community and beyond," the WELL carries an array of jewelry, clothing, accessories, art, and natural healing products and services from local and nearby designers such as AC Clothing and Bags, Oaklandish, Small Cynz, Greenbelts, Pretty fun, Cozy Rampage, Sofina, The Weekend Store, Culture Consumer, Mats!?, Super Sugar Ray Ray, Necessary Voodoo, Rx Designs, Cara Lydon Designs, Rag Trader, Field Day Wearables, and more.
The space is small, but WELL makes the most of it by choosing their inventory wisely. I was particularly fond of the gorgeous AC Clothing and Bag vintage inspired knit bathing suits, which I suspect would look good on a number of body types due to their ability to stretch while staying structured at the same time. I could not resist the tempation of the Fire Dog stash belts. Fanny packs they are not. Beautifully crafted and tooled leather wrapping around the body AND it holds my cell phone and money? Sold. Some designs are more conservative, some a little more wicked and daring, but honestly I would wear any of them anywhere, from the farmer's market to Union Square to Burning Man.
The WELL also offers rotating art exhibits and participates in Oakland's monthy Art Murmer. Currently, WELL is featuring Audrey Welch. Her new series Random Thoughts, introduces collage, spray painting, stenciling, and resin into Audrey's repertoire of techniques. The exhibit runs from Aug. 1st - 30th, 2008.
The owner of WELL, Riquelle, has put her energy into creating a decidely different and new kind of space and has succeeded, much to the benefit of Temescal. Riquelle herself is as engaging and warm as WELL is, and is knowledgable and dedicated to supporting indie artists and designers as well responsible retailing. It actually felt good to shop there.
The WELL is located at 4233 Telegraph Ave (@43rd) in Oakland. 510-653-4308
Hours are Tuesday-Thursday 1pm until 7pm, Friday and Saturday from 10 am until 7pm.