Flax art & design Opens New Oakland Store

Howard Flax, owner of Flax Art & Design. Photo: Ashley Chambers.

Howard Flax, owner of Flax Art & Design. Photo: Ashley Chambers.

The art supply company Flax art & design is entering a new era in the business’s 78-year history with the opening of its new store in Oakland at 1501 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

The company opened its first store on Market Street in San Francisco in 1938, and has become a staple location for art and craft supplies. The store offers an array of paint supplies, sketch books, drawing pens and pencils, urban art, journals, easels, and other art and craft products.

Howard Flax, the third generation owner after his father and grandfather, is looking forward to embracing the art and community culture in the East Bay.

Flax has one primary goal: “to inspire creativity and to present our merchandise in an environment that achieves that.”

“This is a new era for the company,” said Flax. “Every generation has had their opportunity to put a stamp on the business and to kind of make it their own. And we’ve opened now two stores in less than 6 months, which is kind of crazy.”

In the midst of relocating from the Market Street location to Oakland, Flax opened another store at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Each store has its own character, he said.

Along with this exciting new venture comes a chance to partner with local businesses and the artist community, something that Flax says he looks forward to.

One community partner is the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC), which serves unemployed and underemployed Oakland residents with job and training services. While many loyal employees are following Flax to the new location from San Francisco, PIC will pre-screen for any new jobs as a business service to the employer.

Oakland PIC youth intern Teaira stocks the paper display at the new Flax store in Oakland. Photo: Ashley Chambers.

Oakland PIC youth intern Teaira stocks the paper display at the new Flax store in Oakland. Photo: Ashley Chambers.

In addition, PIC assigned several of its youth interns in the Highway to Work program to help Flax in the relocation process, shelving supplies and cleaning displays.

Oakland PIC youth intern Sarah.

Oakland PIC youth intern Sarah.

Oakland PIC youth intern Jatae.

Oakland PIC youth intern Jatae.

Flax is looking forward to building relationships with different organizations in Oakland. “Support them as we can, collaborate as we can, to further the momentum that is driving the growth of arts in the East Bay,” he said.

“We saw an opportunity to broaden our geographic reach because there are so many artists that have been moving to Oakland over the last few years,” Flax said, noting that the company had an Oakland store in the 50’s. “As I’ve become more familiar with Oakland, it really has such a cool – it’s kind of hard to describe – street vibe, a sense of community that is bubbling around, a kind of sincerity to it. It just feels real.”

“We don’t want to be like any other store. When people are shopping for art supplies, we think it should be a creative experience in itself, to find the material and to be inspired by the space you’re purchasing those products from,” he continued.

A grand opening celebration for the new Oakland store will feature live music, arts and crafts and other festivities on Saturday, April 2 from noon to 4 p.m. at 1501 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland.

Festivities will include arts and craft tables from several vendors and an art show featuring work by Flax staff. Special guests will include the Oakland Private Industry Council, Youth Ministry, New Beginnings Ministry, Adnawal, and Love 113 Food Donators supplying their famous free bag lunches to children in the neighborhood.