In a tiny but shiny retail space at 352 17th Street, near Harrison in downtown Oakland, a fresh face has popped up. Working with Popuphood, which is curating retail tenants for the landlord, upstart food business Free Juice is bringing life – and fresh fruit and vegetable juices – to the space in the form of a bodega pop-up.

“The whole idea of a pop-up is to give a business like mine experience,” says Perrin Clark, Free Juice owner and Juicer in Chief. “The year has dispelled a lot of myths about what’s important, what’s not important,” he says. “I think, long term, juicing is still a good industry to be in.”

Clark opened the pop-up in early June, sharing the space with other pop-up businesses. “Business is like a marriage,” Clark says, and this match didn’t work out. “Once I recovered from that, it’s been great,” he adds, noting that he has developed a loyal clientele. Some of the more seasoned food businesses on the block, such as Stag’s Lunchette, have stopped by to offer advice and support.

With a background in farming, Clark sources his all-organic ingredients from farmers located within 100 miles of the Bay Area, many of whom sell at local farmer’s markets. His goal with Free Juice is to offer juice priced so that people can afford it (currently $6.00 per bottle), remaining cheaper than his competition “for what you get inside that bottle.” He sees it as part of his mission to “help combat food justice issues in the East Bay.”

“We have created a brand which is local produce, local workers, local impact,” says Clark. “Customers purchase an experience, not just a product.”

“I keep everything very very clean so I don’t have to have a huge amount of cash flow to keep it going,” he adds. Free Juice has grown through bootstrapping, buying small batches of supplies and making fresh product weekly, as well as bartering and trading.

Despite operating on the thin margins of a startup, Clark still has his eye on the greater good. “I’m passionate about the community and the needs of the community,” he says. He employs five part-time staff and works with nonprofits like Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), which helps people transition from shelters to employment, and Food Shift, which works to keep food out of the waste stream.

One benefit of the current popup space is that Clark has developed a relationship with his landlord, Ben Weinstein, and is currently in negotiations with him to lease a permanent retail space in a different location. “They bent over backwards, almost to their detriment, because they want to see me succeed,” Clark says of Weinstein.

Free Juice will serve raw entrees along with its fresh juice menu when it opens its new space this fall, after the current popup closes at the end of August. If you need to get your juice on in the meantime, you can find Free Juice at NextSpace co-working spaces, Berkeley Farmers Markets, and, soon, in Andronicos. Free Juice also offers a juice cleanse with the option to have your juice delivered directly to you.

About The Author

Laura McCamy, is a freelance writer, editor and researcher, and a contributing production editor at Oakland Local. Her work also appears in Momentum Magazine and the Intuit Small Business Blog. Follow Laura on twitter @lmcwords

2 Responses

  1. Anna

    I ordered and never received my order or a refund. Don’t ever do business with Perrin Clark. Read his Yelp reviews and when you Google his name, you’ll learn he is a longtime scam artist in the Bay Area.

    Reply

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