Marshawn Lynch opened his Beast Mode retail store Friday in Oakland, and the mayor, Lynch’s mom and Seahawks fans were with him to enjoy the moment.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf was in the midst of enthusiastically reading a proclamation for “Beast Mode Day” on Friday when the Beast himself couldn’t help but roar.
As the mayor got to the “whereas” part about Marshawn Lynch being “a steadfast booster and positive representative of Oakland, who stays true to the core of what makes Oakland unique and real,” Lynch called out loudly:
Indeed, this was business for Lynch, who was there for the grand opening of his first “Beast Mode” retail outlet in downtown Oakland. But it was the “town” part that appeared to visibly move Lynch, who hugged his sister and grandmother as Schaaf lauded him.
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Lynch is fiercely loyal to Oakland, and the fact he is opening his first outlet there is clearly meaningful to him. As Mitch Grossbach, president of M3/Relativity, which oversees the development of BeastMode, put it: “Marshawn loves the community and is really connected with the people. Of course, the store makes sense to be right here, in downtown Oakland.”
When it came time to cut the red ribbon, Lynch handed the scissors to his grandmother. When she did the deed, Lynch proclaimed, “We are officially open!”
And that is the extent of the quotes you’ll find from Lynch in this column. No updates on his contract status or future with the Seahawks, no musings about whether or not he’s going to hang it up at age 29, after eight seasons in the NFL.
Shockingly, Lynch chose not to talk to the media, though he did interact easily with friends and families who attended the opening. And many of the 200 or so customers who lined up on Broadway were hoping for a chance to exchange pleasantries with Lynch as they bought the gear emblazoned with his “Beast Mode” brand.
First in line for the noon opening, having camped out at her spot before 8 a.m., was Rikesha Dudley-Marshall, who works in Oakland and was eager to support Lynch’s new endeavor. A portion of the proceeds on the first day went to Lynch’s Fam 1st Family Foundation, which plans to open a community center in Oakland, among other charitable endeavors.
“We love Marshawn in Oakland,’’ she said. “Any time we can come out and see him or support anything he’s doing, we’re always going to support Marshawn in Oakland.”
Dudley-Marshall’s mother-in-law, Renee Ussery, accompanied her to the opening. Ussery has a special connection to Lynch, having baby-sat Marshawn as a child from age 5 to 10 (“he was always lovable”). She remains friends with Lynch’s mother, Delisa.
“I’m so grateful to see how God blessed him and how he’s giving back,’’ Ussery said. “I love him, and came out to purchase something in support of him. He’s really a hero, and the community loves him.”
As the crowd grew, many appearing to be hard-core “12s” decked out in Seahawks gear, the obligatory “Sea-Hawk!” chant broke out, no doubt the first one ever in downtown Oakland.
That segued into several “Beast Mode!” chants, until finally Lynch himself walked through the crowd, to loud acclaim, and entered the store just before the ceremony began.
The store, as well as the gear inside, bears Lynch’s stamp, said Grossbach.
“Marshawn is actually more involved than anybody would think,’’ he said. “He’s involved in every aspect of the creative, everything from the way the logo looks to the way the clothing fits.
“We have a design director named Christopher Bevans who actually does the designing, but Marshawn is approving everything. He also decides how to merchandise it, so when you go inside, the interior was designed and directed by Marshawn. Very, very hands-on. He has great taste.”
The store is comfortable and breezy, though it still has the feel of a work in progress. Photos of Lynch adorn the wall, and there is a mini “Beast Mode” jeep parked in the corner. A video of Lynch highlights dating to his days at Oakland Tech High School run on a continuous loop.
A neon sign emblazoned with a quote from Lynch hangs behind the counter: “I’m blessed. I’m blessed everyday I wake up, so I just try to maximize everyday to the fullest.”
“We want this to be like walking into his living room,’’ Grossbach said. “When you set up these stores, you want it to be a good experience. We want this to be a place you don’t feel like you have to buy anything. … It’s an aesthetic that’s in alignment with him and who he is.”
Business on this inaugural day appeared to be brisk as customers were let in 25 at a time to have a go at shirts, hats, socks, shoes and other Beast Mode gear.
“I have a pocket full of cash that’s going to leave once I walk through that door,’’ Chris Simatic of Tacoma told me while waiting in line.
Simatic and his wife, Jill, are Seahawks fans who came to the Bay Area to experience the Super Bowl festivities. When they read about the store’s opening on Facebook, they decided they couldn’t miss it. They know that Lynch’s days as a Seahawk — or even as an NFL player — could be over.
“I want him to do what’s best for him,’’ Chris Simatic said. “Your career is short-lived in his business, and now with all the new stuff going on with head trauma, we want people to do well and do what’s right for them.”
Wade Boyd and Sabina Gross-Boyd of West Seattle, decked out in Seahawks gear, also made the Super Bowl trip and decided they couldn’t miss Lynch.
“Oh, we love him! We love him!’’ Sabina said. “We don’t want him going anywhere.”
“We’ll adopt him if he goes up for adoption,’’ added Wade.
“We’re very happy to see the opening of the store, and we wish him the best. Forever,’’ chimed in Sabina.
Inside, Mayor Schaaf was touting the revitalization of Oakland to anyone who would listen.
“Listen, as someone born and raised in Oakland, I love seeing him coming back and giving economic vitality to this part of the city, and lifting up that unique Oakland brand, that style, that Marshawn is known for, that Oakland is known for,’’ Schaaf said.
That was Lynch’s town business.