Oakland Chinatown partners with Airbnb to showcase small businesses

Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce is forming a new partnership with Airbnb to promote small mom and pop businesses.They invited about 40 Airbnb hosts from various East Bay cities and San Francisco on a merchant walk to sample what local merchants had to offer. 

Carl Chan with the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce led the tour of businesses that offer products and food unique to the Chinese culture. 

The idea is to encourage the hosts to make recommendations to their renters. 

Inside New Tin's market, the group was offered samples of moon cake, a seasonal item that is used to celebrate the upcoming mid-autumn festival.

One stop was New Gold Medal Restaurant. It is known for its late night hours and its specialty barbeque items such as roast duck and succulent pieces of pork. 

"It's certainly giving me a lot of exposure as far as where to send people. We're building a guide book," said Eugenia Bowman, an Oakland Airbnb host. 

At nearby Chanco Housewares, members of the tour group say they didn't expect to find this type of store with bargain prices in this area. They plan to do more than recommend this store. 

"We're going to come back for ourselves just for that deal," said Kampol Crews, an Oakland Airbnb host. 

The owner of Chanco anticipates that being on the map for this merchant walk will increase foot traffic. 

"It's bringing a lot of people in. Word of mouth, hopefully they're from all over," said Jimmy Lam, owner of Chanco. 

At Freezing Point, one of the newer businesses in the area, handmade ice cream is the attraction.
Chinatown officials say it's an example of the variety of goods and services offered here so visitors don't have to go across the bay. 

"We don't have that many hills to walk. It's so much easier and we actually have better weather," said Chan with the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. 

Airbnb says its goal is to show visitors where they can shop and eat to get the authentic flavor of the areas where they choose to stay. 

"The gems of the Bay Area are the neighborhoods. And in the neighborhoods are the small businesses that are the backbone of each commercial corridor," said Adam Thongsavat with Airbnb. 

Chinatown officials call this event a success. They say not only are Airbnb hosts say they are planning to recommend these businesses to their guests, but they plan to return to eat and shop themselves.