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TFK Shop Opens in the Manor

Thursday, 29 December 2011 13:15 PHOTO BY LINDA SANDSMARK

Shoppers at the Manor's new TFK Shop are greeted by Richard Renwald, Mike Alvarez and Alex Lopez.

By Linda Sandsmark
San Leandro Times

The new TFK Shop in Washington Manor is a place of collaboration for artists from around the Bay Area. It is named for its location: "The Four Korners" where Manor Boulevard intersects Farnsworth Avenue.

The shop sells custom-designed clothing & limited-edition hats. Artist/owner Mike Alvarez, 29, says he has a mission in mind.

"We want to try to do something for kids to help keep them out of trouble," says Alvarez. "I grew up in the Manor. I'm a local guy, and I offer a 15 percent discount for kids who are in an after-school program. It will be an extra bonus for kids who are trying to do better, who participate in something like sports or a program to better their grades."

Living in the Washington Manor area gave Alvarez the chance to see a retail space become available in Manor Shopping Center. Once he secured the space, which is adjacent to Sun Donuts, he invited artist friends to help design the interior. They added huge colorful murals to the walls and trendy-looking display areas.

"I'm an artist, and always felt that drawing on a piece of paper can only get you so much. Seeing your design on things like t-shirts and skateboards is not so limited. My dream is to get across that we're artists and can design anything you want," he says.

TFK customizes extreme sports bikes and does custom screen printing. It stocks a wide selection of skateboard wheels and stickers. The store also carries art supplies and gives art lessons.

Alvarez works with his cousin Alex Lopez, lead designer Richard Renwald and several other local artists in the shop. Most are muralists who have worked in Oakland & San Francisco.

"We don't support people who scribble on walls or do tagging," says Alvarez. "We have quality going on here, and want to keep it that way."

TFK had its "soft opening" on Black Saturday, two days after Thanksgiving. Despite the shop's unassuming exterior, the interior contains a striking mix of wall murals and fashion. Alvarez says that he also envisions a larger role in the community for the business.