Brick Buildings along The Alameda recall the corridor’s history as “warehouse row.” The institutions included artistic giant Murison Label Company, famous for its canned fruit packaging labels, and the storied Fredricksburg Brewing Co., which Brewery Gems once called “one of the most important commercial institutions of the State.”

“It was sort of this place where ‘making’ happened to start,” says Marie Millares, founder of San Jose Made (SJMADE), a local maker space. Millares, along with Sean Boyles and Roan Victor of The Arsenal, and park steward Rick Bernard are hoping to bring back that tradition with “First Saturdays on The Alameda.”

Inspired by the success of SoFA’s South First Fridays, the crew decided to launch First Saturdays on The Alameda earlier this month. The day-long open house affair celebrates different small businesses each month. Boyle hopes that different locations, like The Arsenal, an artist-owned and operated art supply, gallery and workshop space, will benefit from a “collective approach to getting people here.”

Three years ago Bernard adopted Theodore Lenzen Park, a half-acre patch at Stockton and Lenzen Avenues. In caring for it, he saw the LGBT community leaving and an influx of young families and high-density housing coming into the neighborhood.

“Because of the high density that is coming into the area, I thought it would be good for us to really get to know each other as soon as possible,” he says.

Bernard began organizing park socials to introduce new residents to local business and services, and collaborating with SJMADE and The Arsenal to bring First Saturdays to life was the natural next step.

SJMADE had already been working with Whole Foods on The Alameda to operate a pop-up marketplace of 10-12 makers on the first Saturday of each month. With the exception of Sept. 5, when they will celebrate the opening of their new space at 1020 The Alameda, SJMADE will continue to hold down its spot on the Whole Foods breezeway during First Saturdays. The breezeway has become an active neighborhood hub, and the market is focused on encouraging arts, handmade items and small vendors.

“We are continually trying to find ways to foster being a community space,” says Michelle Hohmeier, a marketing and community relations rep for Whole Foods.

For now, First Saturdays will be run on a volunteer basis, but Millares says the group hopes to secure grants and funding in the future.

“First Saturdays I think for us is just gonna be organic,” Bernard says. “We’re just trying to reach out and find out who we are and let it grow as it is.”

Participating businesses:
Crema: Art installation by Wood Works Imagery
Blackbird: Open House
Green Design: Open House
Wine Affairs: Drink specials
la dolce velo: Open House
Eclectic Consignment: Open House
SJMADE Create Space: Featured Artist
The Arsenal: Art Installation by Rob Sato