Though Joe Alexander has worked in the mattress industry for years, he opened Nest Bedding to be unlike all the others. He achieves that by making sure the shop's sock of memory-foam and latex mattresses are entirely organic and made with nontoxic materials that are only dangerous to monsters trying to hide beneath them. The store's staffers, for their part, never pressure customers to make a purchase, and instead help them decide on the perfect bed only when they're ready. Visitors to each Nest show room will find a wide assortment of mattresses, naturally derived sheets, pillows, and crib bedding. For a bed that fits their sleeping style perfectly, Build-A-Nest kits allow guests to assemble their own organic mattresses to specification, from the base layer underneath to the comfort layers and cottony covering on top.
Just like the organism from which it takes its name, Amoeba Music?s stock of tunes has no definite form. At each location, expert music gurus?many of them musicians themselves, all of them record-store veterans and dedicated sonic obsessives?amass thousands of new and used CDs and LPs from the most mainstream artists to the most obscure underground bands around. LPs, posters, and memorabilia surround the musical inventory, which, like Ringo Starr?s pants, changes every day. Amoeba buys goods from customers, meaning that on any given day the store might usher in a rare vinyl LP, DVD, VHS, or even LaserDisc. Visitors can sign up for any number of contests while admiring Amoeba?s enduring dedication to its green practices and community outreach. Amoeba couples its huge selection of entertainment with visits from the artists themselves, welcoming past guests such as Paul McCartney, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords, and Elvis Costello to play in-store.
For Books Inc., it's been a long road, and if you trace the lines back to its origins, it's California's oldest bookstore. After striking gold?literally?back in 1851, Anton Roman set up shop as a bookseller. Although the shop moved, was sold, burned down, changed hands again, and was rebuilt, the spirit remained intact, and today, multiple locations of the indie bookstore have sprouted up across The Golden State. Staff members keep the shelves lined with classic and contemporary tomes in all genres, and a myriad of book clubs help keep the love of literature alive. They also run a vibrant event program featuring author events and readings where patrons can enjoy an experience they can't download.
Housed in a historical turn-of-the-century storefront, Home 101’s airy shop is brimming with carefully curated vintage items and eclectic gifts. In the penthouse portion of a weathered wooden cabinet, a flock of Stonehouse olive oils and vinegars ($14–$24) preens in preparation for its yearly migration to local kitchens, and a bevy of June Taylor preserves and syrups ($12–$18) sits patiently on the floor below. At the same time on a nearby table, a menagerie of Soap and Paper Factory hand creams, candles, perfume solids and soaps ($8–$28) struts brightly patterned packaging plumage in a futile attempt to impress the stony faces of David Dexter’s pastel-colored wood-panel portraits ($16–$24).
A magazine about canine culture, The Bark melds readable articles about animal behavior and health with the pooch-related ponderings of writers including Augusten Burroughs, Ann Patchett, and Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Mary Oliver. Subscribers who read the current issue out loud to their bibliophilic bichon frise can absorb an article by Camille Ward and Barbara Smuts, which focuses on how dogs resolve conflicts, or snicker at Rex and the City author Lee Harrington's sly skewering of a dog lover's foibles in "The Chloe Chronicles."
Housing the glass-based mastery of more than 50 Bay Area artists, Stained Glass Garden introduces students to the world of glass art through workshops, all-day classes, private parties, and a bustling store chock full of materials. Daytime workshoppers can choose a class from the hefty list of group classes, mingling with no more than seven other students while learning to dabble in this colorful and novel art. The stained-glass light-catcher class offers a five-hour crash course in cutting glass, soldering copper foil, and chasing the sun with giant, fragile nets ($85). Jewelry crafting and the birth of functional table art are two of the world’s seven mysteries solved via an introduction to fused glass class ($95). Under the careful gaze of melted-sand-spinning instructors, classes adhere to a varied schedule to accommodate any unforeseen Cinderella-slipper incidents. Private lessons are also available for groups of up to six companions.