Cool places near you

There‘s a small shop that opened up recently in the fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland called Fruitvale Exotic Snax. It’s run by a super high dude who‘s maybe 35 who just loves foreign snacks. Here’s the storefront, courtesy of the owner showing a new snack he got on their Yelp site.

[upl-image-preview url=https://i.imgur.com/3CyAwCM.jpeg]

Speaking of their yelp page, it's just a constant stream of him showing the new products they got in, which I find charming:
[upl-image-preview url=https://i.imgur.com/hQJinog.jpeg]
Here's their page if you wanna see more

https://yelp.to/zbYyW4F8Rvb

It felt like a place that wouldn't get much foot traffic, and it's hard to park there, but he said since there's a bar nearby and a taco truck across the street he gets a steady stream of customers. It's also a vape shop but you get the sense that's both out of necessity and because dude is a stoner himself. It's a small store but he's got lots of snacks in there, and he knows where every one is from and what the flavors are even if he can't speak most of the languages. He's got recommendations for everyone who comes in. It's a cool spot!

I got some decent stuff - hotpot flavored lays, matsutake flavor ones for my partner, rose and grape oreos, and a white peach jasmine Fanta which is "like no peach you've had before" according to the guy. Not cheap but I wasn't expecting it to be - it's import prices, and a small store, so I expected to pay "support a cool business" prices. He had a deal going where if you bought 4 things it was $23 which wasnt bad!

[upl-image-preview url=https://i.imgur.com/wDbcsvC.jpeg]

Anyway I love a business that is run out of enthusiasm, or has a fun theme, or just is generally nice. I like hearing stories about them, or what they specialize in! So please share stories of smaller businesses you know and like!

@“exodus”#p97496 ahhhhh if i could teleport to anyplace in the world right now, it would be this shop. i love everything about it. (also i miss the ability to get stoned so bad. it's super illegal here and that sucks!)

i should add that 'limited-time flavour snacks' is one of my passions in life. i used to write a blog about it, a decade or so ago.

@“exodus”#p97496 We have a similar (but much larger) place near us called Jungle Jim‘s except it’s run by an eccentric boomer who thinks he‘s a wizard and has bizarre 60’s animatronics and left-over Cincinnati Reds, Bengals, and Kings Island things in various spots:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0tvEb7VsbM


@“copySave”#p97507 I like the “And the store has a monorail station and a track that may or may not lead to a convention center” cherry on top.

@“copySave”#p97507 yeah I'd hang out here at least once

There was a record shop called Hag‘s in a small (like, population: 3,000 small) town near where I grew up that closed a few years ago but has since reopened under different management. The original owner had been there for nearly 40 years and had amassed a freakish amount of wildly diverse records and movies, and somehow stuffed them all into a space about twice the size of my lounge. That place stayed in business because, astonishingly, there’s a university in that tiny town, and it was definitely kept afloat by that student dime.

The biggest auditorium on the island is very near my place (3-4 minutes walking from where I live) and is a cool as heck place. Apparently not great acoustics tho, which is unfortunate given the main purpose of the building lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYT7ZiTQFXk

The real cool spot is not inside the auditorium itself though, you have to take this route:

[upl-image-preview url=https://i.imgur.com/uXQ0eV8.jpeg]

Then you'll end up here, where I *love* going to read outdoors. There is a legion of stray cats living under these rocks, truly authentic uminekos! and it's really cool seeing them go about their business while you're listening to music (and sometimes this very podcast!)

[upl-image-preview url=https://i.imgur.com/AvOh5qb.jpeg]

We stumbled across this place today and I don‘t know if it was cool, but it was certainly weird. I didn’t take any pictures but you can have a look here.

https://www.facebook.com/HelterSkelterVintage?mibextid=ZbWKwL

https://g.co/kgs/PAgzKt

Yesterday I went to a show in a cool place. It was a theater build in the 50‘s that burned down in the 90’s and had been abandoned since then. In 2019 they reopened it as a film school and more recently they opened a café in the lobby, and they have been using the actual theater space as a venue.

The show kinda sucked and was weird, but the space is great. Being at a small show in such a big venue is neat in a weird sort of way. Also, there's a some extremely creepy tunnels and stairs (some of them flooded) near the stage area.

As soon as we entered, me and the friend I went with started talking about finding out how easy it is to book a show there since a lot of people from San Diego and LA have told us that they want to play shows down here but most of the cool venues died or have been inactive since the pandemic started.

Here are some photos I took last night and one photo I stole from their Instagram page where you can see the place in daylight

[upl-image-preview url=https://i.imgur.com/2xvCkyr.png]

[upl-image-preview url=https://i.imgur.com/zqKi7o6.jpeg]

[upl-image-preview url=https://i.imgur.com/0XdiWZ5.jpeg]

At one point when a punk band was playing, the video for the visuals that they had ended, and VLC started autoplaying the last video on their playlist which happened to be the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox and it was a funny juxtaposition

https://imgur.com/TKfkZis

There‘s a Persian market in the area run by this really cool lady. This is one of the few times I’ve managed to develop a bond with a local store owner and so we chat whenever I‘m in there. She was telling me around a month or two into the Mahsa Amini protests that she fought in the resistance during the Islamic Revolution and hasn’t been able to return home since. Persian New Year celebrations started this week and she was telling me about having to man the store by herself with storefuls of local Iranians stocking up, “and then Ramadan afterward—oof!” she's so funny.

If anyone has suggestions for snacks to look for that might be found in a Persian grocery store so I don't just walk out with the same halva and/or baklava each time I'd love to know about something new to try.

There‘s a James Turrell not far from me. It’s my favorite place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V7zkmJzzAk

@“穴”#p102131 wow that place is huuuuge, I'd check something out there

@"connrrr"#p109804 I like:
sour cherry fruit rolls
Doogh, a savory yogurt and herb drink
That giant bread that's shaped like a wheel (probably don't have that)
You can sometimes get pastry variety packs
Saffron
Get some new spices and try them out

Yeah!!

@“connrrr”#p109804 poolaki (sp?) is a tasty kind of thin candy. The ones I’ve had are saffron flavoured!

There’s also a great kind of chickpea cookie that I’m forgetting the name of.

@“exodus”#p109809 oh they got some big breads all right, maybe not wheel shaped though.

@"Karasu"#p109812 they had zoolbia at the counter with the baklava, and these cookies that looked a lot like poolaki but like wobblier and darker with bigger nuts/seeds in them. I didn't want to ask her about anything that was super easy to google, but I'm having a hard time finding a match so… maybe I'll just ask next time!

>

saffron

I threw together a stew for dinner last week like I always do and it came out tasting so much like paella, I was thinking all it was missing was some saffron.

I somehow missed this thread until just now. I will have to dip into my photographic archives and share some cool places around the Hudson Valley area of NY (and maybe some nearby states - the rural definition of “close”), exploring cool shops, interesting sites, and wacky tourist traps is pretty much my #1 hobby!

@"exodus"#p97496 I think it's interesting that Fruitvale Exotic Snax exists because I've got THREE very similar places around me in different malls. There are two 845 Exotic Snacks (based on the area code) and an NYC Exotic Snax (which is not in NYC). I guess it has to be some sort of franchise thing? I assume they're getting everything from the same distributor? I don't know how businesses work!
The prices are kind of high but being able to get Faygo Arctic Sun and interesting junk food is always a good thing in my book!

So I just discovered an UNBELIEVABLE toy store called Pandora‘s Box Toys & Collectibles in rural northern New Jersey.

This is the window display you can see from the outside when you get to the strip mall it’s in:

The inside is CHOCK FULL of all kinds of new-in-packaging toys from decades past! Here's a part of their action figure display (lots of sexy 90s characters because my girlfriend likes those figures)
[URL=https://i.imgur.com/hBoSFSp.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/hBoSFSp.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

This is part of what you see right when you enter: NEW Mighty Max sets! Strawberry Shortcake dolls! WUZZLES!
[URL=https://i.imgur.com/itplxZH.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/itplxZH.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Talking Urkel! Talking Pee-wee! AAAAAH!
[URL=https://i.imgur.com/6TiOpk6.jpg][IMG]https://i.imgur.com/6TiOpk6.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

They had comics, vinyl records, wrestling stuff, Happy Meal toys, troll dolls, old board games, it felt like pretty much everything! They had a corner full of retro video games too! I took more pictures but nothing can capture the scale of the place, which has many large aisles chock full of cool stuff.
The unfortunate thing is the prices are definitely on the high side: it's generally a little more than what things go for on ebay. But I know they're running a small business and to be able to keep so many things stocked felt extremely impressive. I ended up getting a new-in-packaging "Darlin' Dino" figure (like My Little Pony only dinosaur), a copy of Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past DX for Game Boy, and MTV's Party to Go vol. 1 all for $80. Not the deal of a lifetime, but not an absolute rip-off. And being able to just browse and shop at this store felt like an amazing experience! I'm looking forward to taking friends in the future.

It's a nostalgia trip beyond anything else!

i know of two cat cafes i need to visit, but i will make sure to post about them here when i do

Apparently Korea gave America a big bell as a 200th birthday present