Patrons step into the locally owned Patterson Self-Storage and Moving Box Supply Store, a winner of Santa Barbara Independent’s Best of 2008 and 2009 Self-Storage, to procure secure boxes and storage materials for bundling up household valuables. For added padding, patrons can wrap fragile figurines in large plastic bubble wrap ($0.40/ft.) or fill pools with packing peanuts ($6.55) to perfect jackknives during the winter. Customers can tuck prized possessions into small ($1.85) or large ($3.85) boxes, or send them in holiday shipping cubes ($1.20). For customers in a rush to get to the post office or to the pony express, sets of supplies are available, such as the quick pack ($26.32), which includes small, medium, and large boxes, as well as a roll of tape.
When Dave Compton needed food for his dog, Shorty, he didn't spend hours searching for deals on the Internet. He just invented an algorithm to do the work for him. Now patented, that algorithm—ShopGenius—helps shoppers on NetPlenish find the best deals on more than three million household products. When members place items in their NetPlenish shopping carts—such as batteries, coffee and tea, and haircare products—the website searches its trusted merchants, such as Walgreens, Sephora, and Walmart, to find the lowest total cost on both products and shipping. Shoppers can harness NetPlenish's powers through its website, NetPlenish.com, or through its iPhone and Android apps. Customers can also sign up for yearly Premier memberships, which grant perks such as free shipping, cash back, and the password to the Internet's secret clubhouse.
Founded in the Netherlands in 1999, Oil & Vinegar offers customers the chance to experience exciting new tastes. Visitors choose from more than 40 “on tap” vinegar and olive-oil flavors that glow from within their suspended glass containers. The staff makes transporting purchases convenient by selling bottles onsite or filling bottles brought from home.
Condiments come in creative flavors, such as blood-orange grapeseed oil and hibiscus vinegar, and include standouts from Italy, Spain, Greece, France, South Africa, Morocco, USA, and even Japan. The list is almost as impressive as the number of Oil & Vinegar stores (more than 90) peppered across 13 countries. Guests can sample the oils and vinegars before committing, and stock their cupboards with the shop’s other offerings—appetizers, herbs and spices, pasta, and even serving dishes.
In 1973, when Ramona Clayton was 19, she moved to Germany where she earned a PhD in molecular biology and worked with sterile medicines. But she also began making pottery—a hobby that would become her profession when she moved back to the United States in 2004. Rather than going through the licensing hassle necessary to work as a microbiologist in the States, she opened terramonary stoneware & porcelain, where, in addition to making stoneware and porcelain pieces to sell, she teaches others her craft. The studio's name—and Ramona's reason for returning to California—comes from her husband, Terry. Starting out as high-school sweethearts, they lost touch not long after graduation. After 22 years apart, Terry found her on the Internet, called her, and asked if she remembered him. She did. "He signed his love letters with 'Terramonary,' which is just an anagram of 'Terry' and 'Ramona'," she recalls. To Terry's delight, she thought it would be a catchy name for the business and even used her science know-how to break down the parts of the word into Latin and alchemic roots that symbolize the four elements. Ramona fires her long-lasting pieces in the kiln outside her studio, which sits on a concrete porch where she and her students also glaze their pieces. Inside, the wheels and workstations are in a separate area from her showroom, which brims with decorative pieces as well as plates, cups, and serving pieces that are safe for ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, and time machines. "My goal in life is to make pretty things useful—or useful things pretty," she says. "If it's too delicate or it's just decorative, people are afraid of it."