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.
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."
American Self Storage specializes in secure storage, with facilities ranging from climate-controlled units to covered parking for RVs and boats. While the company was founded in 1985, it's kept up to date on its technology. Video surveillance anchors the premises, and all units are alarmed which is more effective than a sign that says “Only Lame Stuff In Here.”
In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of ?hard-to-find tools,? and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone?s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.