The magic and wonder of Oakdale in Wonderland has branched out to a second location.
Local businessman and shop owner Russell Olivera, Jr. opened an Escalon location during 2016 under the name of Wonderland Emporium, located at 1830 Main St., Escalon.
Olivera’s Oakdale shop celebrated its third year of business this past November. The designer turned eclectic home and gift business owner, began the business with five vendors occupying the upstairs space of the once popular Empty Nest on North Third Avenue in Oakdale.
“I liked this location,” Olivera said of moving to his current 226 E. F St. location, noting its visibility and appeal to out of towners as they pass through Oakdale.
A creative visionary, Olivera also liked the appeal of the upstairs space the F Street location offered.
“The whole upstairs was not even used,” he said. “The idea was we were going to open it as a tea room. We decided to call it the Mad Hatter’s Loft.”
Permitting and county restrictions made the tea room idea null and void. Not one to shy from opportunity, however, and seeing a need, Olivera now offers the space for events from baby showers to birthday parties. The shabby chic loft area can seat up to 40 comfortably under the tin ceiling filled with twinkly lights.
Olivera himself also makes appearances as the Mad Hatter for events, at clients’ requests.
While the Escalon space is smaller in size, the assortment is still the same.
“We have about 17 vendors in there,” the owner said of his Main Street, Escalon site. “Here (Oakdale) we have had as many as 55, currently we’re at 42.”
The growth of the Oakdale location played a significant part in opening the second storefront a few miles away. As Olivera was faced by a waiting list for vendors, he seized an opportunity in the neighboring town when it presented itself.
“It’s been great,” he said of the location. “It’s a great addition to downtown Escalon. We have everything from vintage to antiques. We have gifts, we have everything, a great variety. That’s what I wanted. It’s always changing.”
As for the vendors in his shop space as well as neighboring businesses, Olivera stated everyone is very supportive.
“They want you to succeed,” he said of the small business community in both towns.
As a transplant who moved to the Central Valley to be closer to family several years ago, Olivera shared he could not be happier, noting relationships built with regular clientele as well as community members.
“I love my job. I love my customers,” he said. “When I took to the second store, I made the commitment that I’d be off one day a week. I work three days here and three days in Escalon. When you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work.”
As Olivera shares stories of customers who frequent the shop, as well as some he’s helped with home design, he recalls a journal entry from when he was 19. A simple vision to own a ‘little shop’ in a quaint town. A vision he imagined in his retirement years, that he’s now living in his prime.
“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” he shared. “I like the town itself, but I like the ability that you have the best of all worlds a short car ride away.
“I really like the people, to be honest,” he continued. “People know you. There’s a true feeling of community.”
For more information on Oakdale in Wonderland call (209) 409-2103 or Wonderland Emporium call (209) 691-6065. The businesses may also be found on Facebook.