Thursday, November 1, 2007

Retail Therapy: Atomic Garden

We all know that shopping "green" is a good thing -- but that doesn’t mean it’s always a fun thing. Happily, doing your part isn’t a chore at Atomic Garden, the brand-new green boutique in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, where practically everything is sustainable, recycled, salvaged, organic, or handmade.

Business partners Jamie Kidson (a clothing designer who co-owns the Berkeley and South Park Jeremy’s shops as well) and Adrienne Armstrong (the wife of Green Day frontman Billie Joe and owner of the Adeline Street clothing company and Adeline Records music label) have created a gift, home goods, and clothing store that’s as pretty and fresh as it is eco-friendly and community minded.

The walls and floors are glazed bright white and the airy, high-ceilinged space is outfitted with beautiful reclaimed-wood shelves and display stands salvaged from the family farm of the carpenter who constructed them. Indeed, the most striking thing about the shop’s well-edited selection of ecological and socially conscious goods isn’t how virtuous it all is -- but just how lovely, and how hard it is to leave without taking all of it home with you. This is conscientious consumerism that doesn’t bludgeon you with its own righteousness.

“We try not to shout about the fact that we’re 'green,'" Kidson says. "We hope people will buy things here because they truly love them -- and if they also happen to have a positive impact on the environment and the community, all the better.” And while sustainable goods often come with price tags that can seem like a cruel joke to anyone on a budget, most everything at Atomic Garden is reasonably priced and much of it is downright affordable.

Among the items artfully displayed throughout the shop:

Sweetly simple art and textiles from Alena Hennessy ($20 and up) and handmade organic soaps, salves, and other potions redolent of fragrant botanicals and zesty citrus ($5.50 and up) from companies like Filthy Farmgirl and Farmaesthetics

Linen notebooks and pillows from Paper Cloud ($38 and $68) and cloth-covered journals made from vintage library books ($28) by Secret Leaves

Handscreened wall art from FluffyCo. ($35), Perch! ceramics, and recycled-glass bud vases by Couronne ($6)

Beeswax candles ($6 and up) from BeesWork, vessels made from repurposed beer bottles ($26) by the Green Glass Co., and brightly colored and surprisingly soft recycled plastic totes from Gypsystyle ($33)

Screenprinted hemp pillows from Emeryville’s Sharon Spain ($76)

Handmade letterpress cards ($2.50 and up) by the Paper Princess, Satsuma Press, Seraph, and others, more Alena Hennessy pillows, and hooked rugs ($179) from Be Sweet

Organic block-printed bedding from Les Indiennes ($65 to $582)

Winsome baby bedding by Pixel Organics ($59) and crocheted plushie by La Bête Handmade

Handmade, low-impact pottery from Perch! ($36 to $72)

Kidson and Armstrong will soon be adding items of their own design as well: blankets created from discarded cashmere sweaters, beeswax candles poured into vintage china cups, and organic cotton, fair-trade market bags ($19), gauze produce bags ($12), and 100-percent-recycled paper journals imprinted with the shop’s pretty bird-and-branch logo (using soy-based inks, of course).

What’s more, many of Atomic Garden’s wares are produced by women’s cooperatives around the world, who use the proceeds to better the lives of their members. There are sari-fabric pajamas ($28) from the International Princess Project, which works to help women and girls escape forced prostitution in India; sweet knitted critters (above, $23) from Kenana Knitters, a group of rural Kenyan women who spin the yarn on bicycle wheels and use their knitting skills to earn independent income; and bags and rugs from Be Sweet, which funds educational and job-creation programs for disadvantaged women in South Africa.

As Kidson says, "We want it to be a place that makes you feel good." That it does -- in more ways than one.

Atomic Garden is located at 5453 College Avenue in Oakland, and is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

P.S. Click here for a "How To" on making a D.I.Y. snowflakes-and-oranges hanging like the beautiful one in Atomic Garden's front window.


katiedid said...

Hi Leah!
Lots to love here. Thanks for the tour!

secretleaves said...

Hello Leah. Really enjoyed reading this post about Atomic Garden. It gave us a very good look at the store and all the great items they carry. So many gorgeous things to choose from and your photos show them off well. Thank you so much for featuring our journals.

Ann and Sharon

Anonymous said...

muito lindo!!!
tudo verde
em defesa do meio ambiente.

Anonymous said...

que fofo ^^
muito lagal mesmo,
é bonito e ainda é "verde" *-*
muuito bom :D

Anonymous said...

Wow, I wish I could travel to Cali ...!

I would love to visit Adie's shop, it looks so lovely! My Mum would LOVE some of the things pictured; What perfect birthday gifts they'd be ... =(

flipkstar said...

I really love to live here. Can I? =)
Anyway, thank you so much for this tour. I appreciated it.


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