Oakland’s The Pallet Space Gallery closes. Beer Garden rumors emerge
The Pallet Space, the colorful antique and artist collective and important part of the Golden Gate neighborhood’s thriving art scene, quietly shuttered last December. The space was envisioned as a place for artists and philosophers to find inspiration while making money through selling their art to support its cause. Located at San Pablo & 65th, across from Tribu Café and a block from Actual Café, the 2,000 square foot store, described itself as a space for art openings, small theater, musical performance, dance, recording and rehearsal space and private events. A collective of artists and volunteers helped run events and sales to sustain it.
The outside of the space featured walls adorned with street art from popular local street artists including GATS, NO Bonzo, Nite Owl and many others. The inside was a maze of antiques and unique art pieces. The space received very favorable reviews on both Facebook and Yelp. One review on Facebook described it as, “the best mind candy store in California. Careful: you may never want to leave.” The Pallet Space seems to have lived up to its mission of inspiring the public.
Opened in 2013, the Pallet Space ultimately did not meet its financial goals of supporting itself through selling art though. Purdey Darrow, owner of the space, described the relationship with the landlord as “tense”. He went into the lease thinking there would be some flexibility with the space and timing of rental payments. Business was slow in the beginning and Purdey was delinquent with rent on several occasions and he was served five eviction notices throughout their two years. Purdey did note that although he was late, he always, eventually managed to make payment. In the end, the shop was successful but unfortunately the issues in the beginning overshadowed any future in the space.
Nick Saraceni, former volunteer and resident artist whom we interviewed in 2013, confirmed the late rental payments combined with tensions with the building owner over painting on every exterior surface caused tension. “The sad truth is, the antiques business is a fickle game, where you never really can expect your profit to stay the same from week to week. Even with the support of many local artists, The Pallet Space was a sinking ship long before graffiti made its way inside the shop. It’s a shame that beautiful ideas like that shop cannot be fueled solely on hopes and dreams.”
Purdey was unable to find a new space before vacating the old one. The art and antiques are currently in storage, and he hopes to find a new space in the West/North Oakland area soon. You can follow his Facebook page to stay updated on what’s next. “ I miss the people in the neighborhood. It was the best thing I’ve done with my life,” commented Purdey while reminiscing on the store and what it had become.
So what’s next for the space? Rumors have circulated about possible interest in a beer garden concept similar to what Berkeley did with Westbrae. Purdey was able to substantiate this and noted that even when he had the Pallet Space, the neighboring building had hopes for luring a beer garden. With summer quickly approaching, our hope is that these plans are solidified quickly!
For now, the only thing left of the Pallet Space is the exterior murals and a blight notice to clean up the side yard that’s filled with debris.