Daze of Our Lives

Am I Living in a Seinfeld Episode?

There Will Be Light

Two days last week, I worked at Alki Surf Shop while my husband, David, zipped over to Randle, WA, to do some work on our AirBNB house.

Shortly after I opened the store, a woman I didn’t know walked in and said, “I’m not stalking you, but you left your BMW lights on.” It turned out I’d parked in front of her house. She is also an aficionado of vintage BMWs, and didn’t want me to return to find my car with a dead battery. The woman’s name was Megan, and I discovered we both own businesses on Alki Beach.

I locked up the store and walked with Megan back to my car, opened the door and started the engine without a problem. She waved goodbye, I locked up my car and headed back to the shop.

Fast forward to the end of the day…

I walk back to my car and see the lights were still ON! OMG. Earlier, when I checked and saw my battery was in good shape, I forgot to turn off the lights!

But, to my delight, the engine started right up!

Sheesh. Old people. 

© terri-nakamura-BMW-2002

My classic 1976 BMW 2002 is now 40 years old!

Chewing the Digital Fat at Alki Surf Shop

Our visitors are both local and from around the world. Later that day, Jim and Suzanne Skerjanc from Bellingham dropped in, and somehow, we started talking about cell phone service.

Jim and Suzanne told me about their spotty AT&T service, and how they recently switched to Verizon. And yes, this was a spontaneous conversation!

Suzanne said, “We were with AT&T, and just didn’t get a signal anywhere. I mean, at my work there was like zero signal. I had to go outside and it was still sketchy. Jim’s a realtor, so he’s all over the place—and, I mean, he HAS to have a signal.”

© terri-nakamura-Jim-Suzanne-Skerjanc-bellingham

Jim and Suzanne Skerjanc, happy Verizon customers

Jim told me he would be driving down a main road, and bam—his calls would drop. He noticed the bars would go to zero, then a half mile down the road, they would come back. And it happened all over the county.

When they switched to Verizon, it was completely different. They now have cell phone service everywhere they go.

“We have full service now. It’s like being in the middle of Seattle,” Jim told me. “Since we switched to Verizon, we have great, reliable coverage all the time.”

Hearing about their experiences made me proud of my connection to Verizon as a brand influencer. Maybe #BetterMatters, but in their case, #BetterWins! 


By a huge percentage, the guests at our home on AirBNB are nice and responsible people. It’s interesting to see how different age groups behave almost stereotypically. “Grownups” treat our house as their own, and leave things in great shape. Millennials, on the other hand, generally seem to have a different idea of what it means to leave a place neat and tidy, or to treat our home with care.

When we first listed our house, my friend, Reg Saddler said, “Well, you know what people do with AirBNB houses, don’t you?” (And being a newbie, I said, “No!?”) He went on, “Terri, people make pornos in them!”—which kind of freaked me out!

Last year we hosted a boudoir photographer, whom we found to be a respected commercial photographer, and totally legit. Nothing too crazy has happened so far.

Generally, when we hand over the keys, we meet our guests face-to-face, and I believe the personal connection helps ensure a positive experience on both sides. That is, most of the time.

Recently we had a group of guys make a reservation for a bachelor’s weekend. The person who booked the house specifically said to me, “We will be clean and respectful.”

© terri-nakamura-airbnb-bachelor-party

Beside filling huge garbage bags with empty booze and beer bottles, and then ruining and tossing five of our plush, hotel-grade towels into the trash without a word, this group burned through all of our firewood. And they also burned a batch of stripped maple saplings that David was seasoning to make into furniture.

Long pieces of beautiful wood leaning against the wall opposite the wall of split firewood would appear different to sensible people, but they were clueless. I could only think: “Morons.”


Not the actual doll. The real one wasn’t this nice.

And to top it off, they also deposited a blow-up sex doll in with the rest of their trash. I mean, WHO DOES THAT? EWWWWW!

If we’d known the fiancee, I would’ve been tempted to tell her, “RUN, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!” 

MISSION: Litter-ally Accomplished

Some of you might remember my last new year’s eve and day were crazy. A small part of it had to do with a postcard offering a trial box of OKO cat litter from the Mud Bay Pet Store.

We regularly receive OKO postcards and I usually recycle them. But recently, one arrived, and I decided to give it another shot. So I tossed it into my briefcase in the event I was near Mud Bay in the Capitol Hill neighborhood

© terri-nakamura-rianbow-crosswalk-Capitol-Hill-Seattle

A typical cross walk on Capitol Hill, Seattle

Last Sunday I was near Mud Bay AND I had the postcard with me! So in a deja vu moment, I pulled into the gas station next door to the pet store, walked in, and bought something, then asked if I could leave my car in their lot while I shopped at Mud Bay.

And once again, Mud Bay didn’t have the trial size of OKO cat litter available.

I asked, “Do you guys EVER have the trial size of this product?”

They said, “No.”

Apparently the manufacturer makes no effort to ensure their retail outlets carry the items they’re promoting.

To put an end to my quest, I bought a large size of litter because we were running low. And to my surprise, Mud Bay offered to subtract the value of the trial size. So the box ended up costing only a few dollars

© terri-nakamura-ice-hamster-canary-home-security-1284

Ice, the teddy-bear hamster, captured on a Canary home security camera.

I felt guilty spending only three dollars on a large box of litter, so I also bought an interactive cat toy and some hamster treats for our son’s and daughter-in-law’s pet teddy bear hamster.

OKO cat litter is odd. It’s made from paper and sort of tubular in shape. I liked the concept, but it’s difficult to sift. Our Maine Coon, Hunter, is going along with it, but our silver tabby, Grey, is avoiding it. It was good to be able to try it. Now I know. 

Grownup Kids are FUN!

Last week, our oldest son Andrew, and daughter-in-law Diana drove to Seattle from Monterey, CA. Since they were supposed to arrive Sunday night, our family decided to delay celebrating Father’s Day until Monday, so everyone could be here.

But on Sunday afternoon I received a phone call from Andrew saying he and Diana would arrive in Seattle in time for Father’s Day dinner!

I love our oldest son, Andrew. He’s such an amazing kid! He also has a knack for creating minor chaos 🙂

© terri-nakamura-Andrew-and-Diana-June-2016

Andrew and Diana — weary travelers

Hearing his updated ETA, I needed to make sure our youngest son, Charley and his girlfriend, Sheela, were going to be available in a few hours, then cleared it all with David. When it looked like we were all on the same page, I switched into high gear, trying to figure out how we could get a dinner reservation on such short notice. So I called Marée Bistro, a neighboring business on Alki Beach.

Remember Megan, the woman who told me I left my lights on? Well, Marée belongs to Megan and her husband, Andy. They said they’d be happy to save us a table, which was great!

After we closed Alki Surf Shop, our group walked a few blocks to Marée and enjoyed some amazing dinners.

© frisee-salad-maree-bistro-alki-seattle

Frisée salad with house-cured lardon, garlic croutons and soft-cooked egg

We ordered lots of different entrees, including a Galantine de poulet (like a free range chicken roulade), wild boar (tender and delicious!), hangar steak, a savory tart, steak frites; plus some yummy sides including a frisée salad and a tasty assortment of charcuterie.

It was a fun and festive meal and wonderful on every level. After dinner, we walked out, and were greeted by an incredible crimson sunset. It was the perfect end to a great weekend.

All of which started with Megan telling me I’d left my lights on. 

© terri-nakamura-alki-sunset-fathers-day-2016

The sunset as we exited Marée Bistro, Father’s Day 2016

The hamster photo was captured by Diana Horsfall, using the Canary home security system, courtesy of Verizon. The doll photo was sourced on Pixabay. Other photos in this post were shot by me, using the fabulous camera on the Samsung Galaxy 7, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

More about Terri:


Shooting a How-to Video


This is my first attempt to shoot a video and edit it, and also my first exploration inside of a laptop!

A month ago I installed 32 GB of RAM in my 27” iMac. It was super easy! My buddy Reg Saddler was with me, virtually, providing guidance and support.

It got me thinking about my mid-2012 Macbook Pro, and how it had just 4 GB of RAM. I decided to upgrade to its maximum — 8 GB, but wasn’t sure where to start.

I’d never opened up a laptop, and installing RAM in a laptop looked more complicated than the installation on my iMac. So I asked my friend, Greg, to help me. But instead of helping me, he actually did the installation!

It worked out well, because it gave me a chance to record the process using my new Samsung Galaxy 7 (S7), which has a pretty powerful video editor built in.

I’ve never edited a video before, and had no idea what I was doing, so imagine how surprised I was to discover it’s simple to do all of the editing and post-production on the S7.

During the RAM installation, I recorded about 14 minutes of video in four different segments . Most of it was a major snoozefest, or just chitchat that needed to go away.

So I omitted the audio by turning off the volume on all of the clips, prior to assembling everything.

At the time I was editing, I actually didn’t have the presence of mind to take screen shots, so a bunch of the following images are after the fact!


On the S7, I navigated to my camera’s roll and opened the first of four segments I’d filmed.

A - Open-Edit © terrinakamura

Once opened, at the bottom of the screen there was an option to “Edit”

B Video Editor © terrinakamura

From there I found the “Video Editor” option.

C First View © terrinakamura

Once “Video Editor” is clicked, a screen comes up, showing the video represented by linear thumbnails. The yellow line is the beginning of the playback.

2-Trim or split video © terrinakamura

Hit the play button (small round arrow button in lower left quadrant) to review. To get rid of irrelevant content, you can split or trim parts of the clip. To do that, select  “Trim” from the menu. A sub-menu pops up where you can select trim to the left, right, or split into pieces.

3-Transition button © terrinakamura

I decided to “Split” the section in two. A box then appears between the two sections. By resting the vertical playback line on top of it, a “Transition” menu will come up.

4-Choose a transition between edits

There are quite a few options for transitions between clips. I just chose a simple black dissolve (top middle on this image). To add a segment, I clicked the “+” symbol in the lower left corner.

5-Add another clip © terrinakamura

I navigated back to my camera’s files and selected the next clip, which then appears in the timeline as anew thumbnail. (Note an additional “transition box” appeared.)

6-Add title screen © terrinakamura

When I had all of my clips trimmed and assembled, just for the heck of it, I decided to add a couple of titles. To do that, I selected “Title.” A bunch of choices pop up. I chose black.

7-Enter text © terrinakamura

A box opens to type in some copy. Just try to make sure you check your spelling. Typos in videos happen here.

8-Text entered © terrinakamura

For the purposes of this sequence, I typed in “Sample Title,” but in my final video I inserted three title pages. When I was finished, I looked at the video and jotted down what I wanted to say. (NOTE: There is probably a better work flow, but since I didn’t know what I was doing, this is what happened with me!)

9-Record audio © terrinakamura

I figured out I could add narration by selecting “AUDIO.” There are several choices, and I selected “Record narration.” So while the video was playing back, I recorded my voice to go with the video. The primary reason I did this is because I decided to speed everything up 2X, which meant my voice sounded like I was talking through helium. It had to be removed!

10-Export © terrinakamura

When I was done, I played it back to see how it sounded and looked. It wasn’t perfect, but hey, you have to start somewhere! I was satisfied — quite proud of myself, in fact! So I selected “EXPORT.”

The processing took a few minutes. When it was complete, I watched it again, then shared it on to YouTube.

The S7 is a great device — much smaller than my Nexus 6P or Samsung Edge 6+ — so it fit easily into my little phone mount and desktop tripod, but more importantly, it recorded really beautiful video. So beautiful, in fact, that when I did the screen grabs, the resolutions looked very nice.

Here is the final video: [ insert anti-climactic drumroll here ]

You can click the video, above, or go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULsavG49e2U

The completed video, which was sped up 2X, cut it down to about 3 minutes.


Greg is a former graphic designer and art director, retired from Microsoft. He and I have a long history of geeking out, talking about computers, gadgets and related topics that make both of our spouses’ eyes glaze over. This was the perfect project for us!

It’s all covered in the video, above, but here are a few highlights:

1 S7 ©terrinakamura-10 inch width

First, we unscrewed the back. Three of the screws are longer, so we put them aside and marked the holes before removing the rest of the screws, which were much shorter.

2 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Next, we disconnected the battery using a nylon pry tool

3 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

After discharging static electricity, ease open clips holding in the RAM, and removed the two sticks.

4 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Next, the new RAM was inserted into the slots. They were firmly snapped into place

5 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

We closed the back of the laptop, first treating screws with an anti-vibration goop.

6 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Moment of truth: Booted it up…

7 S7 ©terrinakamura-sm.

Happy to hear the Mac start up sound and see the Apple logo appear!

8 S7 ©terrinakamura-tn-10 inch width.


So, this entire process involved learning on a couple of levels. It was amazing and fun to shoot, then edit a video entirely on my S7. Second, I’m no longer afraid of opening up my laptop. SSD, here I come!

PS: A cool way to take screen shots on the S7:

Hold your hand perpendicular to the phone screen (like you’re going to give it a karate chop).

Swipe your hand quickly to the left or right. You’ll hear a “click.” BINGO! Screen shot taken!

Video and images shot by Terri Nakamura, using a Samsung Galaxy 7, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

I’m proud to participate as a member of Verizon’s social media outreach team. My posts are about my own personal experiences.  No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

Thanks to my friend, Greg, for his help.

More about Terri:

The Caring Economy — Earth Day 2016

 What companies do every day

Earth Day, established April 22, 1970, has become the largest secular observance in the world, and is celebrated by more than a billion people annually. It’s a day where people are more mindful about the environment and reflect on what they can do to help preserve and protect the planet.

But the earth needs our care every day — not just on Earth Day. Here is what a few companies are saying and doing:

Alki Surf Shop 

Having our business on Alki Beach means we have a front row seat to observe Earth Day and the forces of nature. We are aware of the ebb and flow of the tides. We look out at sailboats being driven by the wind, and hear the high-pitched calls of seabirds as they wheel overhead. When the sand is hot, we stick our toes in the cold salt water of Puget Sound – home to an irreplaceable, teeming ecosystem – and gaze up at the snowcapped Olympic Mountains glistening in the sun. And we realize that all of this is interconnected and must be protected for all time. — Kahuna Dave, Beach Bum and CEO, Alki Surf Shop

Alki Beach Sunset © terri nakamura - small


Apple’s recycling efforts recovered 89 million pounds of materials in 2015, including copper, silver, aluminum, steel, zinc, and $40 million worth of gold.

A commercial featuring Siri and promoting “Liam,” debuted today. Liam is a robot designed to dismantle and recycle iPhones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99Rc4hAulSg

Siri and Liam commercial


Amazon is always on the lookout for ways to reduce the company’s impact on the environment.

  • Shipping packages are made from recovered fiber content, and are 100 percent recyclable
  • Amazon incorporates sustainable and eco-friendly materials in their buildings (six of their buildings have been awarded LEED Gold certification)
  • They make “Green” products available to consumers (www.amazon.com/greeAmazon Earth Day Bookn).

Today, Amazon offers “The Four Seasons – An Earth Day Interactive Children’s Storybook” as a free download.


One of Google’s goals for the products they create is to be good for the environment. A few points worth noting:

  • Google has been carbon neutral since 2007.
  • They are the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy on the planet.
  • Their data centers use 50 percent less energy than typical data centers.

“We live on a beautiful planet, and it’s the only one we’ve got,” says Sophie Diao, 2016 Google doodler.

To see a history of Google Earth Day doodles, visit: http://time.com/4304384/google-doodle-earth-day-2016/

Sophie Diao Google Doodler Earth Day 2016

Value Village 

A “clothing spill” appeared yesterday on Alki Beach. Electric Coffin, a creative company whose efforts were sponsored by Value Village, was deployed to create installation art made of discarded/donated clothing. The conical spirals appeared to be “poured” from an oil barrel into a “pool” of colored clothing at the base. Informational oil-barrel lids told more of the story to passersby. The work brings attention to the volume of textile waste generated by people each year, which averages to be 80 pounds per person in North America.

Sidewalk Art - composite © Terri Nakamura-small


In honor of Earth Day 2016, Verizon has made a commitment to plant 50,000 trees this year.

But on an everyday basis, Verizon is a good corporate and global citizen that works to protect our planet as well as better serve their customers. A few statistics of note:

  • Verizon has 206 Energy Star-certified stores, offices and centers
  • 289 of their retail stores are LEED-certified
  • Verizon has reused, repurposed or recycled 50 million mobile devices to date
  • Employees have collected and recycled 2.1 million pounds of e-waste.

Verizon impacts and how to make a difference


Whether you did something to honor Earth Day, or if  you did nothing more than enjoy family, friends and colleagues and the world around you, I hope we can all do things in the future to help make it possible to celebrate many more.

Apple, Google and Verizon images sourced at URLs cited; Alki and Value Village images shot by Terri Nakamura, using a Samsung Galaxy 7, courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

I’m proud to participate as a member of Verizon’s social media outreach team. My posts are about my own personal experiences.  No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

More about Terri:

Why “Better” Matters

Especially When it Comes to Creating Memories

Abandoned after the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1981, our Randle home sat empty for a decade before we rescued it in 1991. It was a falling-down wreck when we bought it—so decrepit it wasn’t even included in the valuation of the property.

The house as we found it

The porches had fallen down, the foundation had slipped, and only the moss kept the roof intact.

Despite that, our family and friends enjoyed long weekends in this idyllic getaway two hours from Seattle. Some of our best times were when it was still just a “stationary tent,” with no doors, windows, electricity, running water or indoor plumbing.

Porch columns and door on the floor

Looking toward the fireplace; new window; porch supports & door on the floor.

Drilling the well

We hauled water until we hired a water witcher and ended up drilling a 165-foot-deep well.

We cooked on the campfire, used Coleman lanterns, hauled in 5-gallon containers of water, and slept on the floor in sleeping bags. It felt like going to summer camp.

Kids at the rope swing

Our kids with a group of their buddies, gathered at the rope swing.

Horsfalls around the campfire

A family gathering to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday. Cooking on an open fire was delicious. Or maybe it was because we were so hungry?

Jaguar at Randle

Crazy, but our only cars were David’s Jaguar and my BMW. Not the greatest cars for camping adventures, but the Jag was a great cruise-mobile. Newly graded land in the background.

The property had a two-hole outhouse built in 1940, which we resurrected and used. Because few things are more “fun” than going outside in the middle of the night, carrying a flashlight, to use a spooky old outhouse! 

The outhouse

Erin and Wendy near the fire pit, with our two-hole outhouse in the distance

We had many adventures, like a death-defying trip to Burley Mountain lookout where, in one sweeping vista, we could see three magnificent mountains—Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. One time we rescued our kids and a friend as they crossed a field unaware of a bull grazing nearby. We spent long days hanging out at Yellow Jacket Ponds, fishing for trout, playing in the water, then coming back to the house to fry fresh fish for dinner.

Burley Mountain lookout

The lookout at Burley Mountain allowed unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains and forests—important for spotting fires. Christina and Charley rest in the shade.

View from Burley Mountain

Andrew and Erin goofing around, with the crater of Mt. St. Helens in the distance.

Boys Fish Randle

Andrew, Max, Stuart and Charley with the day’s catch; Rusty in the corner.

We captured rubber boas*, and watched bats descend at dusk to feast on insects. We caught frogs, lizards, garter snakes and crickets that occupied our “guest aquarium” until they were released before heading back to Seattle. And we foraged for wild berries, fruit and nuts growing on our land. It was the complete antithesis of life in the city.

Rubber boa

This is the second rubber boa we caught— much smaller than the first. They’re beautiful snakes. 

We spent two decades restoring the house, and eventually furnished it with hand-me-downs from our Seattle home, plus artifacts lovingly collected over the years. It felt very familiar and homey to us. However by 2013, with both boys grown and gone, we weren’t spending as much time at our country home. So I decided to try listing it on AirBNB — and quickly learned we weren’t really prepared.

Randle outside

After righting the foundation, rebuilding the porches and chimney, roofing and painting.

We loved Randle “as is.” We viewed it through the lens of our own memories and experiences—and not through the eyes of strangers.

Our first guest gave us a forgiving review. The next was brutal, and though I was upset by it, she was right: the house wasn’t ready for prime time. Thus began my quest to revamp it to create the “best guest experience” we could offer.

Randle living room

This is the same view as the second image from the top—looking toward the fireplace. We gathered the rocks and had a local stone mason set them. “The Orr House” oar is an homage to “Mrs. Orr,” former occupant and whom we believe to be a benevolent spirit at the house.

I began by replacing the bedding and linens, and expanded from there, doing what we could to make people feel welcomed and help ensure a pleasant stay. I worked hard, along with David and our property manager, Cathy Kane, to achieve “super host” status! It’s an accomplishment that requires continued hard work to retain.

Super host 2

Super-host status is fleeting. You have to work hard to hang on to it!

People naturally shop around for the best deals, and we think they recognize the value in staying in our home. There are nearby rentals that are more or less expensive, but none offer quite the same spaces and experiences. Pet owners love that their dogs can safely romp on 22 acres of land, pretending they are their wild ancestors on the hunt. And looking out across the Big Bottom Valley in the morning to see a herd of elk is an amazing treat.

In terms of recognizing value—we’re grateful to Verizon for being the only proven carrier in Randle. I routinely remind our guests to bring lots of quarters for the pay phone in town if they have AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile.  We put a positive spin on the lack of cell service by positioning it as a “digital detox” experience, but the truth is, we love that Verizon sees value in serving areas like Randle, where none of the other major carriers are to be found. We regard it as our lifeline to the civilized world.

It’s been a 25-year journey so far. For us, we’ve found #BetterMatters—especially when it comes to memories. And chorus frogs singing you to sleep.

Christina on the rope swing

Christina insisted on wearing her velvet dress and patent-leather shoes on the rope swing—even at night!

*Rubber boas are the only North American boa snakes. They have prehensile tails and are very, very cool!

All Photos © Terri Nakamura 1991 through 2016

We’ve been Verizon customers since 2002 when Andrew began as a cadet at West Point. As part of an awesome group of Verizon influencers, I’m grateful to Verizon for giving me the opportunity to use and test some of their awesome devices and tech. No additional compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

More about Terri:

Shopping for a Living

Skybridge cropped

How do products end up in stores?

For nearly 20 years I created product labels and packaging. One of my clients, John Matthys, was a great mentor and friend. One of the things he championed was real-life market testing.

What is market testing?

The traditional way to test customer response was with focus groups.

Focus group testing enlists qualified participants who meet certain demographic criteria (age, gender, income levels, etc.). They’re assembled to view and respond to visual, conceptual, or theoretical goods or situations. Clients and research analysts often will watch through a two-way mirror, while participants offer feedback that helps companies anticipate how their products or services will perform.

It’s very expensive.

John realized the huge amount of money his company was paying to conduct focus groups exceeded the cost of actually producing products and placing them onto store shelves. What better feedback is there than getting real-life responses from his actual customers? So that’s what he did.

Market research and intuition

At our store, Alki Surf Shop, my husband, David Horsfall, and I have employed John’s strategy with many of our products. In addition, we also pay attention to trends, and stock inventory compatible with our store’s retro-modern brand and encompassing “Seattle, surf culture, beach and fun.”

Recently I spent four days at the Seattle Gift Show (pictured above). Shows like the Seattle Gift Show are for retail stores and businesses that sell merchandise to consumers. They are not open to the general public. There is an eclectic group in attendance. It’s akin to belonging to a special club where the members have something special in common: they’re all kind of crazy. I say that because retail is not for weenies. There are many easier ways to make money, but they’re maybe not as much fun.

Seen at the Seattle Gift Show

Tiny sample of things we saw at the Seattle Gift Show while shopping for Alki Surf Shop

I personally don’t enjoy shopping for sport. So if I find something I like, I’ll buy 2, 3, or even 9 of the same exact thing.

But the gift show isn’t like shopping for yourself. It’s more like you’re shopping to buy something for a friend, but you don’t know who the friend is, and you don’t know what the friend likes.

So you end up choosing things that you like, or imagine THEY would like. It’s a bit like mind reading. David often says I’m prescient. However, when it comes to buying for retail, it’s a semi-informed roll of the dice.

Shopping to buy for a store is hard work. We have ideas of what we might want, then search through myriad vendors and options. We compare sources, prices, quality and terms. Then if we decide to sell an item, we order it, price it, add it to our inventory, merchandise it, and track its sales.

Our real-life business education

As retail storeowners, we meet many nice, friendly people from all over the world. The flip side is, we devote so much time to nurturing this thing we’ve birthed, it leaves us with just a fraction of the free time we once had. That means we are spending much of our time with strangers, rather than family or friends.

That being said, we’re fortunate to have friends who are also fellow store and restaurant owners. They understand the relentless work it takes to make a business like ours succeed. They’ve shared their experiences to help us avoid mistakes, and generously given us great advice and support.

There’s a widely quoted statistic attributed to Bloomberg, that says eight out of 10 entrepreneurs who launch businesses fail within the first 18 months. Having recently passed that milestone, and seeing our sales increasing year-over-year, David and I feel slightly more confident about what we’re doing.

It’s a continual learning experience that’s both challenging and fun.

See how it all comes together

We’re gearing up for spring and summer and hope you’ll stop by if you’re in the area. We’ll have new items from the Seattle Gift Show on our shelves, and you’ll have the opportunity to be part of our real-life market testing.

There won’t be any two-way mirrors or research analysts. But you will be greeted with a friendly “Aloha!”


This blog post went through seven revisions and was written entirely on a Motorola Droid Turbo 2 provided to me by Verizon Wireless.

It was fun writing in a café with only the Droid, a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, while curious onlookers stole glances!

Droid cropped

Working at Teavana in Seattle’s University Village, home to a Verizon Smart Store Plus

You can learn more about the Droid Turbo 2, the smartphone with the unbreakable screen, by visiting Verizon Wireless.

Disclosure: As a member of a great group of Verizon influencers, I’m invited to share my honest thoughts on cool products to use and test. No additional compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.

All Photos @ Terri Nakamura 2016

More about Terri:


20 Great Gifts for Tech-Lovers

Ideas Starting at $10 —  10 Days to Shop!

There’s a Verizon “Smart Store Plus” in my favorite Seattle shopping place—University Village. Think: Apple Store with a wide range of brands and products.

The fact that there are gobs of cool things there inspired me to put together this gift guide. You can find something for every geek on your list.

Prices were noted at the time the post was written. For specials, check this link. (Free shipping on all online orders—some items may be online only.)

1 verizon-silicone-cover-samsung-galaxy-s-6-edge-plus-iset-samg928vmsilblk

The $10 case I bought for my S6 Edge+

1. Cases for every budget — starting at $9.99 — Do you need a case to simply protect from scuffs, or do you work in a profession where your phone takes a beating? Looking for designer bling, or do you need a “power safety net?” With myriad choices, here’s a tip: decide what’s important—brand, color, features, materials, budget—then search accordingly.


2 Micro SD Memory Card Reader and 128 GB Micro SD

San Disks come in lots of sizes

2. SanDisks — start at $12.99 — Everyone needs space! When a family member or friend finds one of these in their Christmas stocking, they’ll say, “Thanks for the Memory!” SanDisk offers a range from 32 to 128 GB. They’re useful and they make great stocking stuffers, too.

3 verizon-4-8a-vehicle-charger-white-iset-vpc48wht 5 $19.99

3. 4.8A vehicle Charger with Dual Output — (5★) $19.99 — Two is better than one, right? A vehicle charger with dual output means you can charge both your phone and tablet while you’re on the go! It has a charging indicator showing when it’s fully charged, and comes in six colors—white, blue, red, pink, black and yellow.

4 Verizon Gift Cards4. Verizon Gift Cards — From $25  — When you aren’t sure what that someone on your list wants, but you know they love tech— gift cards can be a great choice. They don’t expire, and are available for $25, $50, $75 or $100. The cards can be used online or in-store to buy things, or even be used to pay your Verizon bill.

5 Sol Republic Tracks Headphones 5 $29


5. Sol Republic Tracks Headphones — (5★) $29.98 – (70% off – reg. $99.98) — Right now Sol Republic Tracks Headphones are available online at a ridiculously inexpensive price. With convenient playback controls and phone compatibility, you’ll experience a great range of sound from base to treble. They’re highly rated and going fast!

6 Chromecast $35

6. Chromecast — $34.99 (4★) — Good things come in small packages. Chromecast is an inexpensive way to screencast—the ability to view content from your phone onto your television. It works with Android 2.3+, iOS 6.0+, Windows and Mac smartphones, tablets and laptops. Out of stock? The Belkin Miracast (4) does the same thing at $59.99, and includes an HDMI and USB cables.

7 JBL Clip+ Bluetooth Speaker

7. JBL Clip+ Bluetooth Speaker — $39.99 — Do you need to buy a great gift for a music lover who is on the go? Super light, rugged and powerful, the Clip+ includes a carabiner to attach to your backpack or clothes. Fully charged, it will provide about 5 hours of play. It has a fun, compact design and comes in five colors: red, grey, blue, purple and black. Compatible with your phone.

8 ZAGG Invisible Shield

8. Invisible Shield Privacy Glass for iPhone 6s and 6sPlus (4★) $44.99 — One of the icky things about screen protectors is, they can look smudgy. Invisible Shield’s tinted protective glass keeps prying eyes from viewing your screen via a two-way privacy filter. It also repels skin oils, so it’s easy to apply and keep clean. In fact, it’s so good that ZAGG will replace worn or damaged Invisible Shield glass for the life of your device. (Models available for other devices.)

9 Travel Rockstar $59

9. Belkin Travel Rockstar ­— $59.99 — 
Turn one outlet into two. As a portable power pack, the Travel Rockstar uses a built-in battery to provide 3,000 mAh to your USB-enabled device. It’s a convenient way to give your smartphone or tablet a power boost while traveling for fun or pleasure, or even on your commute.

10 LG Tone Pro Bluetooth Stereo Headset10. LG Tone Pro Bluetooth Stereo Headset — (4.5★) $59.99 Regularly $69.99 — Tone Pro has neck-behind, wireless bluetooth stereo headset with Harmon Kardon signature sound. It has a MEMS (MicroElectrical-Mechanical System) microphone, ensuring phone clarity. Enjoy up to 23 hours of standby; 16 hours of talk time; and up to 10.5 hours of music playback. Charge up to 100% in less than two hours.

11 Mophie Powerstation Plus 3 $99

11. Mophie Powerstation Plus 3x — (4★
) $99.00 — Do you know a battery daredevil? One who lets their phone battery experience near death on a daily basis? iPhone or Android compatible and true to its name—this back up battery will fully recharge your smartphone 3 times. It seems like connectors  vanish when you need them, but don’t worry with the Mophie Powerstation Plus — the connectors are built in.

12 Blue Ant Pump Mini HD Audio Sportbuds $9912. Blue Ant Pump HD Audio Sport buds MINI — $99.00 — 
The Plantronics Fit bluetooth stereo headset looked good, but this Blue Ant option was recommended at $30 less. Pump HD’s sports-inspired, sweat-proof (IP54-rated) earbuds deliver powerful audio. It delivers up to six-hours of playtime on a quick, one-hour charge. There are three sizes of the ComfortSeal ear tips, and SuperFit Stabilizers ensure a great fit.

13 FITBIT Flex Wireless Activity+Sleep Wristband 4.5 $99
13. Fitbit Charge HR — (4★)  Now  $129.99 — Regularly $149.99 — This advanced tracking wristband provides your automatic, continuous heart rate and tracks your activity right on your wrist all day, during workouts and beyond. Log your meals, track your calories, and even evaluate your sleep — now $20 off.

14 Canary all in one Home Security System 4 $199

14. Canary all-in-one home security system — (4★
) Now $179.99 — Regularly $249.99  — This beautifully designed home security device seems to do everything. It’s easy to set up, too. The HD wide-angle camera lets you see, hear and stream, with the option to record and store. It also monitors air quality, temperature and humidity. The sleek design is unobtrusive and makes it look more like a speaker than a camera.

15 Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit $199

15. Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Starter Kit — $199.99 — Ease into sleep; wake gently. Adjust the ambience, or make your home look occupied. Paint with light and change colors — all remotely controlled using your phone. Very nifty! The starter kit contains 3 wireless bulbs and is Apple Homekit and Nest Learning Thermostat-compatible.

16 Ultimate Ears Megaboom 4.5 $249

16. UE Megaboom — (4.5★
) Now $249.99  — Regularly $299.99 — BOOM is right! The volume and sound quality of this UE bluetooth speaker is unreal. The cylinder-shape projects sound in all directions, allowing you to hear music at high-volume without distortion. In 2014 I found few speakers that could pair with more than one speaker. UE Megaboom lets you pair up to 8 speakers! It comes in 4 colors: red, blue, purple and black.

17 Moto260 2nd Gen Smart Watch

Love the bespoke Horween leather band. 


17. Moto360 2nd Gen Smart Watch 46mm — (4★) $329.99 — Simply beautiful. Compatible with a huge range of devices, this elegant smart watch is handsome and affordable. Moto360 comes in two sizes (42mm and 46mm), and delivers notifications from your phone via bluetooth or wifi. It’s also a fitness tracker and responds to gestures and voice commands.

18 Moto X 2nd Gen $449

18. Moto X (2nd Gen) — (4★
) $449.99** — The Moto X (2nd Gen) smartphone is beautifully designed and affordable. The 5.2-inch, 1080 HD display means visual content looks great, and its 13 MP camera can be activated with a twist of your wrist. It responds to voice commands and will even read text aloud. It has a metal frame, and you can choose genuine materials, like wood or leather, to fit your lifestyle.

19 BB-8 Droid Turbo2 4 $624

19. Droid Turbo 2 Designed By You — (4★
) $624** — Special Edition Star Wars: The Force Awakens Droid Turbo 2 is now available! I saw this device dropped from 8 feet onto a concrete slab. Not a scratch. It has the first shatterproof display and you can custom design your phone with than 1,000 combinations. It has a 5.9″1440 x 2560 display and whopping 21 MP camera! Works great with the Moto360 smart watch.

20 Galaxy S6 Edge+ 4.5 $768

20. Galaxy S6 Edge Plus — (4.5★) $768** — There are myriad reasons why this device is one of Samsung’s flagship phones. I love mine! The beautiful 5.7″ Quad HD display (2560 x 1440) is stunning, making it an amazing entertainment device. The 16 MP camera shoots video in 4K. (Read more about it here.) The S6 Edge Plus works in more than 200 countries. Ready for a splurge? This is it!

Besides a huge array of phones, gadgets and accessories, the University Village Verizon Store offers tech support, workshops and demos.

The items on this list only scratch the surface. I hope you find some gifts to help you get your holiday shopping holi-done!

★  Ratings based on consumer feedback. New items are not rated.
*  Qualcomm® Quick Charge 2.0 (5V/9V) device required.
** List price. Contract/monthly prices vary by device

Thanks to Jathan Lopez, Solutions Manager, and Specialist Calvin Li, both at the University Village Verizon Store, who contributed some of their favorites to my list.

Verizon Wireless has given me the opportunity to use some of their products.

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