Shop Talk: Topdrawer; Catscapes; SpotAngels

TOPDRAWER Topdrawer, a Japanese-American retailer of “tools for creative professionals,” will open its newest location at 1815 Fourth St. on Nov. 15. Topdrawer has three stores in Japan, and this will mark its ninth in the US. The name of the store refers to the handy tools that are often kept in a top drawer. Those offered here are described as “lightweight and portable, rugged and friendly to the environment” and designed to suit “the busy professional/nomad.” The international array of products is focused on four core areas: working, photographing, eating and traveling. Picture eyewear from France, bento boxes from Japan, backpacks from Denmark and American photo albums. “Today’s creative professionals are constantly in motion, taking meetings and working everywhere from studios and cafés to airport lounges and home offices,” said Peter Dunn, president of Topdrawer. “Since opening Topdrawer’s first US store in 2012, we’ve built an incredibly loyal customer base by maintaining a laser focus on helping creative professionals discover the best tools for work and life.” Topdrawer began as a boutique division of Itoya, a Japanese stationery retailer. Topdrawer, 1815 Fourth St. (near Hearst), Berkeley 94710. Tel: 510-666-1372. Will be open from Nov. 15, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily. Connect on Facebook and Instagram

Catscapes, an online shop offering a modular climbing system for cats, is being launched out of Berkeley. Photo: Catscapes

CATSCAPES For cat lovers everywhere, an online business launched in Berkeley hopes to soon be serving the adventure-seeking needs of our furry friends. Catscapes is currently crowdfunding in order to launch its product, but is taking pre-orders. Co-owners Aaron Feldman and Trevor Thorpe have developed a cohesive modular system that, they say, is structurally sound enough for cats to run, jump, climb and  play on, but that looks like artistic wall shelving. “This is superbly engineered, high-end furniture rather than a simple shelf or usual pet product,” Feldman said. “We believe this shelving system will improve, and even revolutionize, the quality of life for cats while enhancing, rather than detracting from the beauty of your home.” Using hinge-brackets, the design allows shelves of any length to be positioned at any angle. The duo have have been friends for over 30 years and both love design and engineering. And cats, of course. The product, inspired by their own pets, was developed in collaboration with mechanical  engineers, designers and a cat behaviorist. Catscapes,  c/o Thorpe Law, 2030 Addison St., Suite 300, Berkeley 94704.  Tel: 800-518-6770. Visit the website to sign up for the newsletter or connect on Facebook and Instagram.

SPOTANGELS A parking app, available locally since Oct. 25, is designed to help people park more easily. Dubbed the “Waze for Parking,” the community-based parking app helps drivers find parking and avoid tickets. The app was launched in Berkeley and Oakland on the heels of a recent round of funding led by co-founder of Google Maps, Lars Rasmussen. SpotAngels is already available for San Francisco and the startup plans to expand to all major US cities by mid-2019. The idea for the business was developed by co-founder Hamza Chahdi during a Learn2Launch class in the Silicon Valley Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program. As a car owner in Berkeley, Chahdi began to ask himself how much other people felt a parking spot was worth. “I remember the day when Hamza and one of his co-founders were quite late to meet with me to discuss a parking application they were working on,” recalls Mark Coopersmith, the founding  member and lead instructor of the Learn2Launch program. “It turns out they had parked in a spot that was legal when they parked, but became a tow-away zone during the afternoon commute, and their car had been towed. Having to pay that ticket plus all the fees to get their car back really motivated them to come up with a better solution. It took several iterations, and now Hamza and the SpotAngels team have some serious momentum.” Chahdi is a UC Berkeley alum and founded SpotAngels with Aboud Jardaneh. “Our community of drivers in San Francisco has been asking us to expand to other cities where they commute from or drive to visit friends and family,” said Jardaneh. “Berkeley was a city that came up a lot. I guess it makes sense since it is known that parking and street sweeping is a challenge there.” So, how does it work? SpotAngels displays a map showing the location of all parking spots with specifics on parking permits and hours, along with a map. The app automatically saves the parking location using car Bluetooth or phone sensors, sending reminders when it’s time to move your car, helping drivers avoid parking tickets. When drivers leave their spot the app automatically marks it as open. “Our main goal is to make parking easy and to provide drivers with the information they need,” said Chahdi. SpotAngels is available on the App Store and Play Store and was previously featured by Apple and Google as among the best apps of 2017. SpotAngels, Contact by email: support@spotangels.com and connect on Twitter and Facebook.

Shop Talk is Berkeleyside’s regular Berkeley local business column. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleyside reader who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, shoot us an email with the details at editors@berkeleyside.com. Read previous Shop Talk columns. And catch up with all food and drink related business news with our Nosh coverage.


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