Gil Stancourt says he'll put a light bulb in anything. Take one look around his studio and you'll believe him. The born tinkerer, who built his first lamp at the age of 12, has spent the last quarter century restoring antique lamps and designing original lighting fixtures, and in that time he's custom-made crystal fixtures, reproductions of cathedral chandeliers, and even art objects from repurposed items. Gil's specialty is bringing back to life antique lamps, which he can convert into more eco-friendly fixtures by retrofitting them to use energy-efficient GU-24 compact fluorescent bulbs and to not shine directly in the eyes of an endangered species that's trying to get some rest.
The lighting master shares his expertise in instructional classes, during which students learn basic wiring techniques and proper tool usage by constructing their own lamp from a wine bottle and other materials.
Alameda Natural Grocery specializes in providing affordable natural and organic foods in a neighborhood-market environment. The store features a produce department that's 99% organic 100% of the time and 25% sentient 1% of the time, fresh dairy products, bountiful bulk buys, and a helpful staff that radiates healthy, edible vibes to nibble on while shopping. Pick a peck of non-pickled pleasantries such as stone fruits from Blossom Bluff Farms for $2.99 or an open pint of strawberries from Yerena Farms for $2.29. All-natural Brown Cow yogurts ($0.99 per cup) are on hand for later spoon feeding narrated by airplane sound effects, while Renew Life fish oils ($15.99–$23.99) are available in the supplements and personal-care departments for diving into the fast track toward improved health.
Every day, San Francisco Soup Company’s chefs craft crunchy salads and approximately 12 soups from scratch, keeping an eye on sustainability and seasonality. Both salads and soups showcase organic and locally sourced ingredients such as cage-free eggs from Glaum Egg Ranch and organic milk from Clover Stornetta, and soups cast tendrils of steam from biodegradable containers. San Francisco Soup Company’s commitment to conscious dining extends to the nutritional realms: each recipe comes with nutrition stats, and the menu even designates which soups are gluten-, meat- and dairy-free, and which soup spoons best shield noses from affectionate pinches.
The name might sound a little dated, but the bar for quality high-tech repairs is arguably higher in San Francisco than almost anywhere in the world. Lasertorium Office Systems remains a go-to for Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark, Brother International and other high-end electronics that are malfunctioning or otherwise cutting into workplace productivity. From paper jams to wear-and-tear to the kind of baffling diagnostic mysteries that send mere mortals into a blinding rage, the Outer Sunset's Lasertorium has been servicing the Bay's gadgets for 20 years, with reasonable prices for timely turnaround. Don’t expect much in the way of amenities or frills from this low-slung repair shop – or its sister location in the Financial District. Instead, rest easy in the knowledge that the experience held inside will have your machine up and running again in no time.
Having begun at 331 Cortland, the small-business incubator space in Bernal Hill, Bernal Cutlery became one of its most successful graduates – and retained its name after relocating to the Mission. The wondrous, old-timey knife shop on Guerrero Street is not merely a place to get a dull edge sharpened on a proper Japanese whetstone, it’s where San Francisco’s home chefs learn to filet fish and chop vegetables according to the proper techniques. While heavy on Japanese blades, Bernal Cutlery stocks an amazing assortment of professional kitchen tools that are, quite literally, cutting-edge. Co-owner Josh Donald’s collection of pocketknives and other vintage cutting implements makes for an almost fantastic visual display as well, all from within the old-timey storefront, complete with hand-painted glass signage.
The experienced instructors at The Sewing Machine Shop repair impart pupils with stitching know-how and equip customers with sewing supplies. Learn new ways to keep fly-front jeans or pet robots' mouths closed during the Zippers Revealed class ($40), which provides step-by-step instructions for applying four different kinds of zippers. Twin Needle Fun classes ($30) introduce dual-needling activities such as grid quilting, and Sewing Fundamentals lessons ($30) soak students' brain sponges in needlework basics including how to sew straight and curved seams and how to read a pattern.