Bargain Hunters descended on The Park Avenue District this weekend in what was the first (and possibly last?) Restoration Hardware Warehouse Sale “pop up”event of its kind in Emeryville. The event attracted thousands of shoppers from as far as Sacramento, inconveniencing neighbors, adding to the already gridlocked intersection of Horton and 40th and plugging the Horton Bicycle boulevard, where the loading zone was inexplicably established, with double-parked cars and moving vans.
The three day event was held in the Bon Motif Company Warehouse adjacent to The Rug Depot Outlet. Bargain hunters could be seen circling the blocks of the normally tranquil Park Avenue District and parking as far down as Novartis. Showroom and lightly used merchandise were being offered at discounts advertised at 50-85% off and shoppers flocked for the opportunity. Shoppers I spoke with came as far as El Dorado Hills (a suburb of Sacramento) for the opportunity to buy the coveted home furnishings at a steep discount.
While many out-of-town visitors I spoke with seemed personally satisfied, residents were none too happy about the congestion, aggressive parkers and overall frenzy of the event. Some local shoppers I chatted with that were initially intrigued by the event, walked away empty-handed and disappointed “You know something is expensive when it’s 75% off and you still can’t afford it!” noted one neighbor.
Little or no warning was provided about the event (as “tuned in” as we are, we didn’t find out about it until the day prior through the shopping site racked.com, not through the city). One source I spoke with said the permit was just issued a week ago. The intersection, already at the crux of many battles, was somehow permitted and deemed acceptable for this type of event. The decision-making process that thought adding an event at an intersection that is already amongst the worst in the city and along a protected Bike Boulevard is unclear.
The Temporary Use Permit (TUP) application that was granted was issued by the Planning & Building Division and is reviewed by other departments & divisions including The Emeryville PD, Alameda Fire & Public Works according to assistant City Planner Sara Billing. Officer Brian Head noted that only two service calls were issued in the area over the weekend regarding the traffic and another alleging a “clown” directing traffic that proved to be erroneous.
This might be a “preview” of what’s to come for the area with 1000 more residents jammed into the neighborhood via the forthcoming Sherwin Williams development or the influx of shoppers the Nordstrom Rack could bring to the East Bay Bridge Shopping Center.
On the flip side of this though, small neighborhood establishments like The Pacific Landscapes Gallery capitalized on the vital exposure the event brought to the less-pedestrian trafficked street of Park Avenue. The area will need a draw if the businesses we seek are to be sustainable. The neighborhood had been lobbying hard for the developer to pursue only “locally serving retail” for this very purpose. To avoid the massive influx of cars from outside of our city. I suppose neighbors may have to strike a balance here.
We’re not out of the woods yet either. Merchandise will be replenished and the event will continue for the next two weekends (hopefully they’ll have learned what NOT to do from “Round 1”). Further details about the event can be found on our free community calendar.