The Alley Years

We started on this journey in 2012, with a tiny 200 square foot store in a back alley in Oakland, CA. We saw that people wanted a warm, friendly, inclusive store that sold the denim and other gear we were wearing at the time.

Prior to opening the store, we had been manufacturing our own cycling jerseys right here in the Bay Area focused on quality of material and design. Cedar Cycling, our first business, failed to survive, but gave us the know-how and connections to leap into this new venture.

The first S&S store front in Temescal Alley, Oakland

The first space we occupied had originally been the municipal stables for the City of Oakland. After falling into disuse as automobiles and trucks replaced horses, the stalls turned into storage lockers and the alleyways surrounding them became invisible to the neighborhood.

Our landlord acquired the buildings in the 1970s and didn't do much with them until the 2000s. Piece-by-piece units were converted into a small retail spaces selling everything from vintage furniture to succulents.

Everything really started to take off around 2011 with the arrival of a barber shop and a coffee shop, greatly raising the profile of the alley. The energy of the area was so compelling that we signed our lease before our space was even close to being useable for retail.

We've grown quite a bit since then, expanding and moving our Oakland store, building our online presence, honing our brand list, and opening our Santa Fe, NM location. We still believe in and stand for the same ideals as when we started: great product in an inclusive environment.

Jane Jacobs

The space we chose defined our name and our name defines us. As cyclists and urban dwellers, one of our folk heroes has always been author Jane Jacobs (This profile is worth reading as an introduction to her life and work.) A pioneer in pushing back against “Urban Renewal” and a believer in cities as human environments, Jacobs is most well known for her masterpiece "The Death and Life of Great American Cities." One of the core ideas in this book is "new uses for old spaces".

The following passage spoke to us about the nature of the neighborhood we were in, and the change going on around us.

"Cities, however, are the natural homes of supermarkets and standard movie houses plus delicatessens, Viennese bakeries, foreign groceries, art movies, and so on, all of which can be found co-existing, the standard with the strange, the large with the small."

The garments we choose to sell function in the same way as Jacob’s ideal city. Everything we carry is intended to become better with wear and will sit effortlessly next to modern garments as well as vintage pieces.

The big move

Exterior of 5010 Telegraph with G&G Hardware sign visible.

In 2015, we found ourselves stuffed to the ceiling in our existing space. Needing more space, we moved around the corner to 5010 Telegraph Avenue, which is one of the oldest masonry buildings in Oakland. Originally a restaurant known as the Brick House when the building was built in 1871, other tenants over the years include a bakery and a hardware store (the sign of which is still visible in the shot above).


Ooe Yofukuten's workshop in Ichinomiya, Japan on our first trip.

That same year, we started traveling more to deepen our understanding of what we sell, though meeting with the designers and craftspeople we work with. Our first trip (of many to come) to Japan came in the fall of 2015. We spent a month traveling around the country, in a transformational experience that deeply influenced our business. Experiencing retail executed at the highest level, flawless hospitality, and commitment to craft all came to inform every aspect of our business.

Among our closest friends are Ryo and Hiroko, craftspeople that produce jeans (and a number of other exceptional pieces) on a level apart from anyone else in the world. Every garment is made by the two of them, start to finish, in their workshop in Ichinomiya, Japan.

Each time we visit, they take us somewhere interesting - factories, mills, museums, or temples. It’s always a surprise, and it’s always tied deeply into our passions for culture, manufacturing, craft, or cities.

On our visit in spring 2019, Ryo and Hiro took us to Meiji Mura, an outdoor museum of the Meiji era (1868-1912).

Among the buildings moved there and restored is the Oguma Photo Studio, brought down all the way from Niigata. Naturally, we all had to pose for what remains one of our favorite photos of time spent in Japan with friends.

Posing in the Oguma Photo Studio in Meiji Mura 

Santa Fe

After a couple years of discussion of where and when to open store #2, we landed on Sante Fe, New Mexico through a long string of coincidences. Site selection was extremely important to us again, and we said no to a number of cheap-but-workable options while we searched out just the right spot. The exact space we hoped for opened up downtown (a former gas station turned art gallery), just a few steps off the plaza and we dove in.

The Pandemic Years

Immediately after we opened in Santa Fe, the pandemic spiraled out of control, forcing us to go online only and lock our doors for the 15 months. We, just like everyone else in retail, panicked and assumed this was the end of the road.

However, years of smart decisions (not pouring money in online ads; careful and intentional growth) meant we had some options on the table. We kept a steady hand on the wheel and focused on finding ways to retain all of our staff at full pay including a run of fundraiser tees (the Quarantine Tour tees).

We kept on operating as best we could, taking shifts for shipping and receiving, photography, and all the other things one can’t do from home. We managed to get every piece that came in the door photographed, measured, and posted online throughout the entire year.

By the end of 2020 our staff had earned more than 2019, thanks to their steady hard work to provide an online experience that was every bit as good as in-store; and to the dedication of our friends and customers who helped keep us going.

We also starting our giving campaign in June, committing 2% of our revenue to charitable causes. You can read more about our charitable work here.

The Future

We have evolved significantly as a business and as humans over the years we've been around. The rag trade is not an easy game, but we remain committed to our vision of warm and welcoming environment to shop the best brands on this planet.

There's a lot of growth ahead of us between our store brand products, the whiskey brand we are incubating, and new brands we can't wait to show you.

The core of our identity is premium service in a real place, and after over a year of being online only, we look forward to years more of being able to meet you all in person.