Getting started selling your wares to the public has never been easier with all the new retail incubators in and around Oakland. These organizations consult with small business owners to help them get started, find space and promote their businesses. Short-term leases on space mean that you don’t have to raise as much money up front for renting and building out a storefront. Instead, you can use that money on building your product line and brand for a better chance at success.

Getting started:

 Step 1: File for a Fictitious Name license. What’s the name of your business? If you plan on naming your business something other than your name, you’ll need a fictitious name statement. If you’re going to use your own name, you are exempt from this step.

Step 2: Get a Seller’s Permit. You will need a Seller’s Permit if you:

  • Are engaged in business in California.
  • Intend to sell or lease tangible personal property that would ordinarily be subject to sales tax if sold at retail (this includes wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers).
  • Will make sales for a temporary period, normally lasting no longer than 90 days at one or more locations (for example, fireworks booth, Christmas tree lots, garage sale).
  • Register for your permit here (

Step 3: Next, you’ll need a Zoning Clearance Number. This is required for all Oakland-based businesses and notifies the City what type of business you’re operating and where you’re operating from. Simply fill out this form ( and return it to:

250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 2nd Floor, Oakland, CA 94612

Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Step 4: Get an EIN or tax ID number. Another thing that separates the business from the individual is the EIN or the tax ID number. This is important if you plan on filing a separate tax return under the business name. You’ll also need it for your business license application. Apply online here (

Step 5: File for a business license. Every service-oriented business working out of a home must file for a business license, aka a Business Tax Certificate, and pay an annual business tax. For your business license, you’ll need (as we’ve already mentioned above):

  • A California State Seller’s Permit Number (required for all businesses with buy and sell activity)
  • A Zoning Clearance number (required for all Oakland-based businesses)
  • Federal Tax ID number (if business is a partnership, corporation, LLC/LLP or trust.

The initial fee is $60, and then you’ll pay annual taxes after that. You will get a paper certificate from the business tax office approximately two weeks after you pay your fee. Get the 2013 New Business Application here: (


Cheat Sheet:

Small retail support resources:

Lionel J. Wilson Building, 150 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 1B
Oakland, California 94612

 Started in 2011, Popuphood is a small business incubator revitalizing neighborhoods block by block. They consult independent retailers and property owners to fill previously vacant storefronts and establish creative engagement to foster long-term leases and growth for the neighborhood.

25th Street Collective
477 25th Street, Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 384-3146

Hours: First Friday 6 – 10 p.m. and every Saturday 1 – 6 p.m.

The 25th Street Collective (25C) is an L3C collective of slow-food and slow-fashion artisans practicing local, ethical manufacturing and innovative resourcefulness. Offering creative studios, a storefront gallery, wine bar, workshops, and edu-tainment events, this Oakland-based incubator is home to fine fashion and food artisans in the Bay Area.

Pricing: If you’re interested in being a vendor, fill out an application here (

Oakland Grown

Once you’ve started your business, you might want to contact these guys. Oakland Grown supports the growth and development of locally-owned and independently-operated businesses and local artists in Oakland through their virtual storefront for small businesses in the area.

NEXT: Getting started: with a food sales business in Oakland

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