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! 

AirBNB AirHEADS

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.”

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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:

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!”


Postscript

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:

 

Experiencing Life on the Edge

David with Edge 6 Plus cropped

I think I’ve mentioned, my husband is somewhat of a neo-Luddite. So when I handed him the new Samsung Edge 6 plus (S6 Edge+) to take with him to our Randle property on AirBNB, he offered a pained expression that said, “Oh, no. This is new. I don’t like it.”

We sat down and I recorded his fingerprint before he left Seattle. He didn’t understand WHY, but went through the drill. Well acquainted with entering a password to get into a device, he thought it was pretty cool when he found out he could unlock the phone by simply using his fingerprint!

The fingerprint sensor that works so perfectly on the iPhone is now also working perfectly on the S6 Edge+! Yay! (Though it is an outstanding device, the Galaxy Note 4 fingerprint sensor was tempermental.)

There are many cool things about the S6 Edge+, which by the way, is the first Android phone I’ve used that I actually LOVE.

First, the “edge” in the name refers to the rounded sides of its elegant front face. It’s not just pretty. It feels nice in your hand. It feels luxurious.

The device feels light, but sturdy.

The “edge” on the S6 Edge+ is beautiful industrial design, but actually offers functionality. It saves power because you can access information, notifications and important contacts without drawing energy to light the entire display. The most obvious thing: the Night Clock quietly displays the date, time and battery power left in the phone. Very convenient! Also, you can set it so the edge will silently light up when messages or notifications arrive.

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How do you read notifications along the edge? At first I didn’t think it would be practical or useful. But if you swipe your finger back and forth along the edge three times, it brings up the clock, but also offers news, comments on posts or whatever you adjust to appear in the feed—again without lighting the entire screen. Very cool!

Another great thing is the “tabs.” I set it up the “people” edge, that lists my favorite people (including family members and Reg Saddler @zaibatsu) and the “apps” edge, which currently includes Google Play Music, email, AirBNB, Instagram and my photo gallery.

People and App edge

I’ve always used iTunes for music, but at Reg’s urging a few years ago, I synced my music library with Google Play. And am I glad I did! With the Google Play “Music” app, you can set it to create a station based on a favorite song in your library. My mind was blown when it delivered a ton of great, NEW music I’d never heard before—truly stunning discoveries!

The 16MP back camera is great, and the 5MP front camera is solid. When the S6 Edge+ is asleep, simply tap the home button twice to open the camera. By clicking the arrow at the top of the screen, the in-context explanations of various features are easily understood and accessible. Tap again to collapse the information. Swipe the main screen from left to right to reveal options like pro settings, panorama mode, virtual shot, selective focus and other features, including “Live Cast.”

Similar to Meerkat or Periscope (sans social integration), Live Cast, lets you post the video to YouTube for later viewing.

Oh, and it’s easy to take a screenshot on the S6 Edge+. Just hold down the “home” and power lock keys simultaneously.

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One of the most fun features is “casting.” If you have a smart TV where the phone and TV are on the same wifi network, you can play whatever you’re watching on your phone onto the TV screen. And I’ve learned you can reverse the process—having something from the TV appear on your phone. It was really fun to be in the University Village Verizon “Smart Store Plus” in Seattle, and broadcast the time lapse video of Jimmy Kimmel’s NY set being built, onto a big screen across the room.

Taking on Apple Pay, Samsung has integrated Samsung Pay into theS6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5. It allows you to load your debit or credit cards and use the magnetic credit card swiper on credit card terminals.

No, your phone doesn’t go through the swiper! But it magically communicates via uniquely created tokens for each transaction. At our store we have a new chip-and NFC-compatible card swiper, but Samsung Pay actually works with old-school credit card swipers, even if your phone is in an Otter Box case!

Once you’ve loaded Samsung Pay and connected a credit card, a translucent tab appears at the bottom of your home screen. At any time you can swipe up and instantly use your credit card by scanning your fingerprint.

UPDATE: 10/31/15—I used Samsung Pay at the veterinarian’s office today. They use Square. It worked FLAWLESSLY and the other animal owners in the reception area were amazed. The staff gushed, “We’ve never seen that before!” It was awesome! NOTE: it does “not” work with credit card swipers built into a keyboard or monitor—(does it, Elena?)

The S6 Edge+, with its 5.7″ screen, is a terrific entertainment device, but with its split-screen functionality, makes it a great business tool as well. Imagine being able to have two windows open, and do “live’ drag-and-drop from one window into the next. Very sweet!

There are myriad other great things about this phone. I’ve just scratched the surface, and continue to discover new features that are mind boggling. I can honestly say, as a 3-decade-plus Mac user, and dedicated iPhone user, this is a terrific device that I think many iPhone users could easily come to love. I know I have, and I’d say that even if Verizon hadn’t sent this product for me to experience.


Until November 15, 2015, you can receive a free wireless charging pad (value: $49.95), by loading Samsung Pay on your and connecting it to one payment source! I went through the process, and Samsung promptly sent an email to verify some information. It was a piece of cake!

Free Charging pad

Eligible devices include the Edge6, S6 Edge+, Galaxy Note 5, and Galaxy 6 on Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular. Connectable cards include American Express; and Visa and Mastercard issued by banks listed in the above offer.

Claim Forms must be submitted by 11:59:59 PM ET on November 15, 2015 to be valid


Photos shot with the Samsung Edge 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 4. 

More about Terri:

When a Decision Doesn’t Fly

Alki Beach-June 2015-© Terri Nakamura

Everyone has, at some point, made a regretful decision. Graphic designers love it when they can hit “Command-Z” — Undo! Unfortunately, that doesn’t always fly in real life.

Which leads me to a “tail” of woe about a switch I recently came to regret. It has to do with kites. That’s right — kites.

Monarach kite composite

My husband and I have a beach store in West Seattle, right on Alki Beach and when we opened last summer, we had a great kite supplier. There was a concern, though — they were all the way in North Carolina!

Logistically, shipping merchandise from across the country means the cost of transportation must factor into the selling price. The kites were of great quality, and in spite of the freight charge, they sold well.

But it left us wondering if there was a closer supplier.images-1

We learned one of our local vendors offered kites and they were less expensive. ALSO, they gave us free shipping, which is, in the world of retail, is AWESOME! So we thought we’d give them a shot.

But their kites turned out to be cheaply made and the lack of quality reflected poorly on us, so it was back to the launch pad.

Last month when we were in Yorktown, VA, we discovered a store very similar to ours. They carried kites from our original supplier as well as a variety of kites from an Oregon company — just one state away! The Oregon kites were more expensive, but they were well made and we thought it would be cool to support another Northwest business. So we ordered some!mn1_001639

The problem is, the Oregon kites aren’t selling. They are too expensive.

Ultimately, it was like a Goldilocks déva vu — One vendor was too cheap; one was too expensive, and our first vendor was “just right.”

We had to try the others before we realized just how good we had it. Which meant a happy ending to this tale of #SwitchersRemorse.

Porridge-large

PS. As a member of a very cool team of influencers for Verizon Wireless, I received compensation to think of this story in my life, and to write about it 🙂

A tip from my friend, Sara F. HawkinsIf you switched away from Verizon and are regretting it, don’t worry. They’re making it easy for customers to come back. For more information, head over to your local Verizon store and tell them you have #SwitchersRemorse.

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A virtual tour of Alki Surf Shop:
http://on.bubb.li/274389aw5ievoklfvbnzzhi/

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Alki Beach photo © Terri Nakamura 2015

Porridge courtesy of Wikipedia/commons:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/6e/Denslow’s_three_bears_pg_5.jpg/512px-Denslow’s_three_bears_pg_5.jpg

Alki Surf Shop: http://www.alkisurfshop.com

Terri Nakamura on Twitter: https://twitter.com/terrinakamura

Alki Surf Shop on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlkiSurfShop

The Horsfall House on AirBNB: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1229224

More from Terri Nakamura: http://seattledesigner.blogspot.com/

A Canary to Tweet About

Canary blends  in with almost any environment

Canary blends in with almost any environment

A few weeks ago Verizon sent me a Canary. Not the type that eats birdseed, but a handsomely designed home security system that you control from your smart phone.

The first time I set it up at our house, it was a snap and took fewer than 10 minutes—a very different Canary appexperience from the Belkin Netcam HD Camera  we’ve been using at our store, Alki Surf Shop  in West Seattle. By simply connecting a cable between the Canary and the headphone jack of my iPhone, then following the prompts on the Canary app, it was super easy to get it up and running.

When I moved the Canary to our store, it was a different story. I was unable to get it to work because of the Comcast firewall in place there. It was disappointing because the Canary has so many great features that our Belkin is missing. The Canary support team tried to help, but at the end of the day said there was nothing they could do.

The Canary says it’s smart home security for families, renters, homeowners and travelers, grandparents, dog lovers, workaholics, and everyone in between.

But they don’t list “businesses,” and I can see why. The set up could require troubleshooting with service providers, and I didn’t have a clear indication that it could easily be resolved. It’s too bad because I could see small businesses as potentially a terrific market for them.

Both the Canary and Belkin offer:Canary in box SM 20150531_223005

  • HD Camera
  • Microphone
  • Motion detection
  • Night vision
  • Wi-fi enabled
  • Ability to record video
  • Ability to send notifications of movement

The Canary also boasts a 90+ dB siren and the ability to measure

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Air quality

The Canary has a wide-angle lens that will capture a span of about 147 degrees, which is great. Also, the quality of the video is excellent. One disadvantage is, there is no way to rotate the angle of the camera, so it needs to be located on a plane that looks out into the environment from a fixed point-of-view.  We like placing our cameras up high (above eye level and out view), and it’s not possible to do that with the Canary.

Canary packaging SM 20150531_223108

Spot UV on a dull suede-like stock

That being said, the industrial design is sleek, and speaking as a graphic designer, the packaging is sturdy and attractive. There is one superfluous layer of packaging—a clear plastic surround that I think was meant to protect the box, but isn’t always successful.

Canary is beautiful device that can seamlessly blend in on a book shelf or table. It offers users peace of mind, allowing them to see and hear what is going on in their homes/environments when they are not there. And it can be set up to alert you when there is activity.

If you’re looking for mid-range priced solution for your home, the Canary is worth a look!

UE Boom – 16 hours and counting

View of the beach from Alki Surf Shop, April 2015

View of the beach from Alki Surf Shop, April 2015

My beach bum husband and I agree, there are few things more awesome than hanging out at our store on Alki Beach while the sun is shining.

But one thing that makes it even better is listening to music that puts everyone in a great mood.

We had been using a JBL Flip 2 bluetooth speaker to pipe music out to the sidewalk. The music helps people notice us and entices them to come in. We often see people dancing on the sidewalk before making their way up the steps to our store.

Hand-painted signs on the steps

Hand-painted signs on the steps

Recently, thanks to @TheOnlineMom and #vzwbuzz, I had a chance to try out the UE Boom bluetooth speaker.

The UE Boom is fantastic!

First of all, the 360° design is a cylinder of sound. There is a rich bass and clarity that makes the sound seem almost dimensional. And the capacity for delivering volume is unbelievable. IT. IS. LOUD.

The beauty of a bluetooth speaker is not having to hassle with cables and cords when pairing with a music source.  We had our JBL Flip 2 sitting on an outdoor window shelf, which worked well for its promised 5 hours of battery life.

The plus and minus signs are actual controls for the volume

The plus and minus signs are actual controls for the volume

The UE Boom says its battery lasts for 15 hours.  But, guess what? It’s not really true.

When fully charged, the UE Boom kept playing for 16 HOURS. And would probably have kept going, but I finally needed to go to sleep.

What follows is a look at the endurance test I gave the UE Booms’ battery:

9 AM The UE Boom providing the soundtrack to my work day. There is an impressive spectrum of resonant sound. (I could feel the strings vibrate at the end of “I’m Just a Girl!”)

1 PM In my car, I had to turn off my console because it seemed to interfere with the ability of the iPhone to “speak” to the UE Boom. But once I did, it filled my car with sound. I’d never thought about using a bluetooth speaker in a car before, but it made me think it could be great for people who don’t have bluetooth or USB in their cars.

1:30 PM First stop, Unified Grocers, where I had a chance to meet with Al Burleson. My iPhone and the UE Boom kept playing in my car because I wanted the speaker to be in continuous use.

2:30 PM At Alki Surf Shop, we just started selling some Aloha shirts made in Honolulu by Robert J. Clancy. So we needed a cascading arm for our slat wall as well as some nice hangers. That’s where Grand & Benedict came in. That’s where we buy our store fixtures.

3 PM When I finally arrived at Alki Surf Shop, I swapped out the JBL with the UE Boom for the next 4.5 hours until it was time to head home.

Beside amazing sound quality, the UE Boom has a handy little hanging clip on the top which I used to anchor the speaker to the window frame. That way it couldn’t accidentally fall off and hit someone below. But the clip could effectively allow you to suspend the speaker in the air, emitting sound in all directions. It’s a small but a pretty nice little feature.

The hanging option means it's possible to enjoy 360-degree sound

The hanging option means it’s possible to enjoy 360-degree sound

Another cool option is, you can pair TWO speakers to a single device. That means, if we want to pipe the same music inside the store as outside, we can. And because you can adjust the volume on the individual speakers, you have more music outside than in.

There is a “+” and “-“ on the body, which are graphic elements but also function as the volume controls. They look nice, but they are recessed from the outer surface, and I fear they could become dust collectors. They look like they’d be difficult to clean, so I covered them with a piece of clear packing tape to prevent to keep them free of debris.

7:30 PM I kept the speaker going on my way home, then kept it playing at a low volume throughout the evening.

9 PM The power light apparently turns red when the power is low. By the time I noticed it, it had been going for 12 hours.

The power light turns red when the battery is low

The power light turns red when the battery is low

2 AM I don’t know if the volume made any difference in the battery use, but after 16 hours, I was ready to call it quits. Yes, folks, it continued 16 hours, and maybe would have kept going longer if I’d let it. The UE Boom outlasted my capacity to listen!

The UE Boom is one of the most fun, utilitarian and excellent tech gadgets I’ve had a chance to use. It’s twice as expensive as the JBL, but clearly you get more than three times the speaker. If I’d known about it when I was shopping for a speaker, I would’ve gladly paid the difference. If you’re in the market for a bluetooth speaker, the UE Boom is worth every cent.


Alki Surf Shop: http://alkisurfshop.com/

Terri Nakamura: https://twitter.com/terrinakamura

*vzwbuzz is the social media hashtag used by Verizon Wireless.

Alki Surf Shop: The Store Verizon Helped Build

A mini Statue of Liberty near the birthplace of Seattle

A mini Statue of Liberty near the birthplace of Seattle

Many people think of Verizon simply as a telecommunications company. But it’s much more. Because of its unique lens on its customer’s needs, it enables people to create, build, communicate and connect in ways you might not imagine.

After months of planning and renovation, in July we opened the legendary Alki Surf Shop in Seattle, home of original Alki-branded clothing and accessories.

Alki Surf Shop is a dream come true for both my husband and me. We’ve created a unique, fun and inviting experience in the Alki Beach neighborhood of West Seattle.

Beside the great “Genuine Alki”-branded clothing we’ve designed and produced locally, we identified and filled a need: There wasn’t a resource on the beach that offered essential things like towels, mats, sunscreen and other “oops, we forgot” items.  And we realized there isn’t a central source providing information on local businesses and services, so we started a bulletin board featuring business cards, menus and schedules to help support our neighbors, while at the same time helping visitors to the beach..

Tees, tanks and hoodies with the Alki Genuine brand.

Tees, tanks and hoodies with the Alki Genuine brand.

Colorful beach towels, sunscreen, sunglasses, beach mats, flip flops and more are available to beach visitors.

Colorful beach towels, sunscreen, sunglasses, beach mats, flip flops and more are available to beach visitors.

Also, there wasn’t a place on the beach that focused on Alki souvenirs, which is crazy since Alki is a “must see” destination in Seattle. People frequently tell us it feels more like southern California or Hawaii than a metropolitan city. In addition to the wonderful people we’ve met in our neighborhood, just this past week we had visitors from France, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, The Dominican Republic, and states from all across the country.

Our first visitors from Germany and Arkansas

Our first visitors from Germany and Arkansas

Alki Surf Shop offers a clean, beautiful and inviting shopping experience with a friendly “island vibe.” We receive a lot of great comments in our guest book, and love the suggestions we receive from customers who help guide us as we add new products to our shelves. When a customer makes a purchase, they are treated like “Hawaiian royalty” by David, who blows a conch shell with a shout out to thank them. It makes for lots of laughter and applause.

From early in our journey, the Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone, and Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet played important roles. They allowed us to connect with, and stay on top of, correspondence with suppliers, manage our inventory, and source, as well as coordinate the procurement of important building materials. They were literally lifelines for us!

© Terri Nakamura Sweet! Nokia Lumia Icon and 2520

Verizon’s Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone and the Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet.

By storing important documents in the cloud, everyone with authority to share the files is able to access and update them using the 2520. The tablet is housed in a durable case with a built-in keyboard and touchpad—both beautifully designed for aesthetics and functionality. And it folds compactly for storage. And we often use the Icon to power the music in the store, or to take photos and videos of our visitors.

In addition to the Icon and 2520, we have Verizon cell-phone signal booster, and a Belkin HD Net Cam — essentials needed for staying connected.

© Terri Nakamura  Belkin Netcam HD for Alki Surf Shop Seattle

The awesome Belkin Netcam HD plus helps us monitor activity in the store, day and night.

The Belkin HD Net Cam offers amazing peace of mind. There are five sensitivity ranges for motion detection from “lowest” to “highest,” and depending on the setting chosen, we are sent alerts of movement in a given area, allowing us to immediately see and hear what is happening. There is also an option to store recorded video on a subscription cloud service. The night vision feature let’s us look in on the store at any time, which is amazing and cool.

Two other great add-on tools from Verizon include the Jawbone Era, a very small, light and comfortable headset, which makes it possible to talk, hands-free, while performing other work.

The second is the Jawbone Up Activity Tracker, which is basically a bracelet that monitors your movement. Since we began the process of building the store, it’s required so much in the way of physical exertion (demolition, stripping surfaces, scraping, speckling, sanding, painting, finishing, etc.), that I’ve lost 12 pounds! It’s been great to have the Jawbone Tracker as a positive reinforcer!

© Terri Nakamura  Jawbone ERA and Jawbone UP cropped

Terrific gadgets including the Jawbone UP and Jawbone ERA have enhanced the process.

It may take a village to raise a child, but it took Verizon to help our business get up and running. Thank you to @theonlinemom and #vzwbuzz for helping make our dream come true.


Follow us on Twitter: @alkisurfshop; Friend us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alkisurfshop or visit us at the store in Seattle, located at 2622 Alki Avenue SW, Seattle, WA 98116 near 59th and Alki Avenue SW. (206) 403.1901.

© Terri Nakamura Dashboard hula girl Alki Surf Shop Seattle

One of three dashboard hula girls you can find at Alki Surf Shop in Seattle.