Archive for the ‘Local Businesses’ Category

Ever heard of a vook?

January 29, 2010

Perhaps the next best thing, according to an Alameda company!

Vook Inc.’s product is a multimedia application that works on a computer’s Internet browser and can be downloaded to an iPhone or iPod Touch. The software displays the text with accompanying video clips. Called a “vook,” it’s a digital mashup of video and books, with a dash of popular social networks Facebook and Twitter thrown in for seasoning.


Flavors of India

September 27, 2009

Nah … this is not an India related travelogue 🙂

In a recent post, Lauren mentioned that an Indian restaurant would be opening up soon on Park St. As luck would have it, I had dinner with some friends at Flavors of India over the weekend … these are the very same folks who will soon be setting up shop in our fair town. If my experience (and that of others) is any indication, they could very well endup giving the other Indian place (on Buena Vista) a run for their business.

The 3/50 Project

July 19, 2009

The 3/50 project: Pick 3. Spend 50. Save your local economy!


Interesting article in the WSJ:

A survey released in January by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a Minneapolis nonprofit research group, found that community efforts can often at least protect independent companies from the worst of the recession. Independent retailers in cities with buy-local campaigns saw holiday sales drop 3.2% from the previous year, compared with 5.6% in cities without them. There are about 100 such campaigns across the country, the group estimates.

More information on the 3/50 project is here.

Go Peet’s!

August 1, 2008

Alameda’s very own Peet’s 🙂 appears to be weathering the recent downturn fairly well. Contrast their recent earnings report to Starsucks closing 600 of their stores!

The company said the rise was partly due to strong growth in its grocery and wholesale business. Peet’s has been expanding by selling its coffee in more grocery stores around the country. Grocery sales jumped 27 percent. Revenue at its retail stores, meanwhile, rose 13 percent, mainly from sales at new locations.

And in other Peet’s related news:

Peet’s new roastery in Alameda, on the bay’s shore right at the northern tip of the main Oakland Airport runway, was awarded LEED gold certification, an unusual honor for a factory.

Local bicycle frame builders

July 7, 2008

Interesting article in the Chronicle on local (bicycle) frame builders, including one in our very own backyard.

Bernie Mikkelsen, of Mikkelsen Frames in Alameda, has been building bikes for 34 years. He got his start as a child, putting bikes together from found bike parts. His father, an engineer, converted the basement of the family home in Berkeley into a workshop where his son could learn the intricacies of bike engineering. At his peak, Mikkelsen built four or five custom steel bikes a month and did repairs “at a hundred miles a minute,” said his wife, Melodie Beylick, a glass artist whose work sits on shelves in the bike frame workshop.

Even more fascinating is Bernie’s near recovery from a stroke — perhaps as a consequence of being allowed to work in his bike shop on weekends.

Alameda Bicycle

February 10, 2008

If you are looking for bike store around town, I suggest Alameda Bicycle. I bought my first road bike from them recently and have been very impressed by the service and the very knowledgeable and helpful staff.  Apart from supporting a local business, their “free adjustments for ever” offer is simply unbeatable.

And, as reported recently in the Journal, they are very actively involved in the community as well!

The bike shop has started a reading rewards program, called Books 4 Bikes, that benefits five of Alameda’s elementary schools. The program encourages children to get excited about reading by giving them a raffle ticket to win bicycle-related prizes, such as a new helmet, for each 150-minute reading scorecard they complete; those who submit the most cards stand a chance of winning a new bike.

“I have seen the future, and it’s in Alameda”

September 25, 2007


An earlier post mentioned an Alameda company (Squid Labs) that was involved in the “one laptop per child” program. Turns out that one of the founders of Squid Labs (Saul Griffith) has just won a MacArthur Fellowship which is also referred to as “genius grant” by the press.

Interesting profile on Saul Griffith and Squid Labs:

The workshop at Squid Labs is a window into a world that will soon be available to the rest of us. Saul and his Squid Labs colleagues can, in the words of MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld, “make (almost) anything”. They have assembled state of the art equipment for rapid prototyping as well as a more traditional machine shop. Much as a programmer assumes the malleability of bits, the unlimited potential of the computer to reshape itself to the maker’s vision, this new generation of hacker assumes that the world itself is malleable, and if Saul’s thesis work is correct, ultimately programmable.

I have seen the future, and it’s in Alameda.

It is very encouraging to see such innovative work being done literally in your backyard! Congratulations to Saul and his team at Squid.

Directions via phone … from an Alameda company

July 16, 2007

An Alameda company (Dial Directions) is offering the ability to receive free driving directions via text messages. The Chronicle is reporting:

Users call (347) 328-4467 from a cell phone and begin explaining where they want to go, either an address or an intersection. The voice recognition service discerns your intended location and asks where you’re coming from.

The system is smart enough to search for nearby cities, just in case you’re uncertain where you’re headed. And it can understand where you’re going, even if you don’t know whether your intended location is a street, road or boulevard. Before the call is over, Dial Directions will have sent you a text message with simplified directions supplied through MapQuest.

I just checked it out and it works flawlessly 🙂

OLPC: The Alameda Connection

April 17, 2007


OLPC, aka One Laptop Per Child is a non-profit project with a goal to provide 100 million laptops over the next couple years to school kids in the developing world. To put this in perspective, 100m is double today’s annual laptop production!

For a project of this size and scope, the design logistics are staggering. Given that the intended audience is predominantly located in the developing world, providing a reliable source of electricity to operate the laptop becomes of paramount importance. One of the solutions being implemented was designed by a local Alameda design firm: Squid Labs, which has since spun off a separate company (Potenco) to commercialize the product.


Thinking locally

March 26, 2007

I’ve just finished reading Big Box Swindle and there are a number of examples of how some cities have gone about promoting their independent stores.

Austin has an annual event called Austin Unchained. Held on a Saturday in November, this is a call to residents to shop only at locally owned business for the day. This gave them the opportunity to talk about the value of independent business and the economic implications of spending money at locally owned businesses. In the case of Austin, the impact of shunning the chains for local stores for a day was $14m.

A free and widely available directory of local businesses, organized by category. The guide identifies alternatives to chain stores and is also loaded with facts about the economic and community contributions of locally owned businesses.

Raleigh offers a discount card that sells for $25 and provides a year’s worth of discounts at locally owned businesses.