John Beaver and Erica Perez co-own and operate Oaktown Spice Shop. When John was growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the best stop in his mother’s errand routine was a local shop dedicated to spices. The sacks of seeds, the wooden boxes of cloves and cinnamon sticks piqued his curiosity. The smells: intoxicating.
Later, when he was in high school, John got a job at the spice shop and began learning how to grind and blend spices. He worked at the shop for years on and off in between school and travel. Although he took other directions in his career, his love of spices and good cooking remained.
It was also in Milwaukee that John met Erica, a California native. When Erica got a job in the Bay Area, the couple moved west. When they arrived in Oakland a few years ago, they were surprised to discover that a city with such a vibrant food culture lacked a local spice shop. Two years after beginning work on a business plan, John and Erica opened Oaktown Spice Shop in the Grand Lake neighborhood of Oakland in December 2011.