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Tech firm Block and a Black cultural group open downtown Oakland market

Tech firm Block and a Black cultural group open downtown Oakland market

OAKLAND — Tech company Block Inc. has teamed up with Black Cultural Zone to open Uptown Market, a retail hub that’s poised to bring a lively mix of shops and food to downtown Oakland.

The new commercial center is located on the ground floor of Block’s Uptown Station office building in downtown Oakland at 1955 Broadway.

“Uptown Market is a way for us to support local businesses,” said Ahmed Ali Bob, Global Impact Lead at Block. “Block is an active member of the Oakland community. We have identified where we can make the most impact. Our support of the Black Cultural Zone is one way to have an impact.”

The new downtown Oakland market is offering visitors a place to shop and get food and beverages. The market is located in Uptown Station, a historic office building that for decades was a well-known Sears department store.

“Uptown Station is a historic landmark that is well-recognized in Oakland and that has fond memories for Oakland residents,” Ali Bob said.

Block has established a major office center and job hub in the Uptown Station building.

Black Cultural Zone is curating a “Best of Oakland” shop where vendors will offer retail items as well as food and drinks in Uptown Market.

“We have this great opportunity to advance some new vendors into the Uptown Market space,” said Carolyn Johnson, chief executive officer of Black Cultural Zone. “We are excited to be launching this with Block and our vendors.”

The vendors will be an ever-changing mix, according to Block and Black Cultural Zone.

“We are going to have three retail counters, with three or four vendors at each counter, as well as a food and beverage counter,” Johnson said. “There will also be a chef on site. We also have additional food vendors offering packaged goods.”

Artwork, jewelry and hand-crafted items are among the likely wares that vendors will offer.

Uptown Market is expected to be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. At least some vendors are slated to rotate daily.

The market occupies 2,000 square feet on the first floor of Uptown Station.

Block has also created a community space in the building that it is offering to nonprofits free of charge. This space totals 3,000 square feet.

“This community space is a blank slate for a variety of uses and programs,” Ali Bob said. “It can be used for meetings, training sessions, a lot of activities for nonprofits.”

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Since Block is a high-tech firm whose products include the company’s familiar white square point-of-sale devices, merchants that participate likely will have access to cutting-edge retail and payment processing technologies.

“We are seeing some amazing products from Block that will be available to vendors at the site,” Johnson said.

The tech company plans to train vendors in the use of Square technologies.

Block employees are working in the Uptown Station office complex on a regular basis. That means vendors in the Uptown Market on the first floor will have a large potential customer base for their offerings.

“We think the Uptown Market retail and dining vendors, as well as the community space, are really going to be a resource for the entire Oakland community,” Ali Bob said.