Launched more than three decades ago, Site for Sore Eyes now operates in more than 35 showrooms throughout the Bay Area. Staffers at every location share their dedication when pairing customers with head-turning eyewear and contacts. The company offers a $25 warranty that secures all of its products, replacing broken frames for free and furnishing half-price replacements for glasses that are lost, stolen, or transformed into an acorn squash. In case eyes require prescription tweaks, each shop sits next door to California-licensed Sterling VisionCare doctors of optometry.
Inside, Fire Works Ceramics’ studio looks more like a cozy cottage than a storefront, its shelves of blank ceramics and hardwood tables awash in sunlight as they wait to be painted at handsome kitchen tables. Visiting artists take their pick of blank mugs, dishes, vases, and figurines, all poured in-house rather than sourced from archaeologists’ garage sales. After decking out their chosen piece in as many colors as they like, guests surrender them to staff to receive a coating of glaze and a trip into the kiln. In addition to walk-in sessions, the studio can also host birthdays, bridal showers, and butterfingers’ support groups.
Display cases filled with frames by designers such as Ray-Ban and Paul Frank dress the lemon-yellow walls at Paquette Opticians. Licensed optician and personal eyewear consultant Bonnie Boney oversees the shop's extensive collection, which includes frames for kids, athletes, and nearsighted housecats. In addition to helping clients sift through frame styles, Bonnie and her staff also fit eyes with contacts.
BookBuyers' mountain of contemporary and vintage media packs the shelves with more than 300,000 used media items, from books and magazines to software and games, and even DVDs and a few space-age laserdiscs. Its stock includes trade editions in hardback ($8+) and softcover ($5+), pocket paperbacks ($2–$5), a battery of CDs and DVDs ($4+), audio books ($15+), and a small cache of collectibles, rare volumes, and leather-bound tomes ($30+). Deeply discounted items are scattered throughout the myriad selections, turning browsing for imagination stimulation into a hunt for buried dimensional-shifting, mind-expanding treasure.
For the phone and tablet case designers at Speck Products, creating a case that enhances the user’s experience is paramount. Their line of iPhone, iPad, Samsung, and Motorola cases provide a variety of helpful features that seamlessly enhance gadgets, such as kick stands that allow for hands-free viewing and slots to hold credit cards. Tablet users can browse the web one-handed with a case featuring an adjustable handle, and hanging iPad cases allow users to video chat while stuck in a Chinese finger trap.
Cases are visually stunning, as well. Stylish designs include faux leather, plaid, geometric patterns, and even country flags, some made in partnership with popular companies such as snowboarding giant, Burton. And though the aesthetics play a large role in the case design process, functionality and protection has always been a top priority, even as far back as 2003, when Speck Products released the FlipStand for the original iPod.