A steaming, froth-capped cup of cappuccino—it’s not the first thing you’d expect to be handed at a clothier. Consider it a gesture of Peter Cassara’s hospitality and a hallmark of the Italian heritage that defines his shop.
The inveterate tailor learned to make suits in Sicily in the '60s before packing up his skills and sewing kit to move to San Jose in 1971. Every two years, he travels back to Italy to hunt down the latest styles by Baroni, Enzo, and Petrocelli. He favors lightweight fabrics such as cashmere, silk, and pima cotton, and he always has an eye out for upcoming trends such as slim-fitting suits.
When customers come into his shop, he sometimes guides them through the collection himself. “I do everything myself because when a person comes in, I look at how they’re built. I know exactly what they need. If there are too many employees, they don’t get it right,” he said. In his spare time, Cassara serves as a fashion consultant and prides himself on the ability to summarize in less than a minute the proper way to curate a wardrobe. It keeps him pin-sharp as he performs all the alterations, from simple hems to leatherwork. He sweeps floors, he dresses window, and sometime he even froths the cappuccino.
Sick of buying expensive supplies and having to adhere to a class schedule just to create art, Jennifer Kurtz Rubin started the first of her chain of ceramic lounges in 1993. Each Petroglyph Ceramic Lounge is designed as a social and creative space, one that all customers can use to express themselves artistically while catching up with friends. The lounge throws open its doors for both kids and adults to decorate clay bisque pieces, such as mugs and salad bowls, with a bounty of colorful supplies, never worrying about cleanup afterward. Once they’re complete, the art pieces are glazed, fired, and ready for pickup in a few days. And because artists can stay for a whole afternoon or just 30 minutes, the lounge even grants a few moments of creativity to patrons with the busiest schedules. The company also goes beyond casual art making to host parties for kids and adults, in which they can bring in live music, serve food, and train scoops of ice cream to paint their own bowls.
Since 1989, Play It Again Sports has been keeping sports green, recycling gently used athletic equipment into new-to-you gear. Products from brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Wilson make up each store's enormous selection of new and recycled gear, which is replenished daily with goods for a wide selection of sports that ranges from baseball and football to snowboarding, skis, and ice skates. Treadmills and exercise bikes equip bodies with muscular suits of armor, and pintsize and adolescent equipment arms youngsters with protective padding until they eat enough bologna to grow muscles of their own. Knowledgeable staffers man each location, ready to answer questions, arrange gear deliveries or pick-ups, and even sharpen skates or wax snowboards. To ensure their stock remains robust, they also encourage athletes to collect their lightly used gear—including bicycles—and bring it into a local store to either sell or trade.
The tech-savvy staff of family-owned media shop IF Digital transfers precious memories and valuable info stored on analog media to more durable, digitized formats that can easily be stored, saved, and shared. Customers can choose any one of the company’s conversion options, including 8mm and 16mm film transfers and a videotape-to-DVD service that preserves the quality and lifespan of precious home videos.
Not limited to moving pictures, techs round up loose family photos, slides, and negatives and herd them into JPEG format for easy storage on a disc, eliminating the need to strap a projector, portrait studio, or photography professor to your back each time you visit a friend’s house. The talented staffers also use pictures to whip up 10-minute DVD slideshows that make ideal communal eye fare for birthdays, anniversaries, and dinner parties.
The butchers of Tailgate Steak and Seafood hand-trim USDA-inspected meat and seafood before flash-freezing each item and shipping it out to clients' homes. Preservatives and tenderizers stay far away from Tailgate's grain-fed beef, which is aged no less than 14 days and comes in a range of cuts, such as tri tip and new york strip. While the steaks are the stars, Tailgate’s menu also promises boneless chops and skinless chicken breasts, as well as seafood ranging from black tiger shrimp—which arrive peeled, cleaned, and deveined—to wild salmon caught fresh from the mighty lake that serves as Paul Bunyan's fishbowl. To ensure freshness, Tailgate's staff samples products before they ship and provides a guarantee that meats delivered directly to the client's home remain tender and freezer-burn free for up to one year.
For more than three decades, ABC Tree Farms have provided the Bay Area with seasonal fun October through December. Summer inspires the first round of recreation in the form of Summer Fun Zones packed with inflatable bounce houses masquerading as castles and slides and fresh harvests of local cherries, peaches, melons, and other fruits. During October, they run 20 pumpkin-themed locations, some of which also feature inflatable bounce houses and other attractions. Once Thanksgiving passes, groves of Christmas trees spring up, having made their way south from Oregon and Washington. There they will stand until Christmas Eve, hoping to decorate homes or become the model that inspires a revamped line of evergreen air fresheners.