The Neighborhood Merchant: NATHAN & CO.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The store NATHAN&CO bursts with color, beautiful design, and charming items - for yourself or others - at every turn. It's a perfect place to find something to brighten your home, or a creative birthday or hosting gift.

Whatls new and exciting at NATHAN&CO right now? Quite a diverse collection of items. Visit the kitchen department first, in the front of the store, where they offer the Mason Cash mixing bowls from England, a design that goes back a few hundred years, and used by Alice Waters, among many others. A huge variety of tea towels beckons, unusual patterns designed in Australia and made in India, with matching aprons and mitts nearby. The clever white ceramic "Brooklyn" dishes are labeled "cawfee," "creamuh" and "buttah." Nearby, the cork coasters in the shape of whole-wheat toast are both fun and functional. An array of cookbooks, many by local authors, fits almost every food interest.

The menls section has some interesting items for upcoming Fatherls Day, such as the boxer briefs made from bamboo with clever graphics. Nearby are unique wallets made from recycled flannel shirts and old ties, and shaving items of all sorts. For children, they offer gifts for newborns and unique childrenls toys and accessories. Many parents are seeking alternatives to plastics, and the colorful childrenls bamboo dinnerware is made from renewable resources, and is safe, as well. In personal care, the Italian Borotalco talcum powder is popular for its fine texture, with the nearby Botot French toothpaste and mouthwash, and the Italian laundry soap Marsiglia, apparently a favorite of everyone who has used it in Italy, now available in the U.S.

The party and entertainment department really shines: gleaming bar accessories, books and bottle openers in the shape of imaginary animals, and a wooden board with 6 slim glasses for beer-tasting flights, made in Sausalito. A beautiful, old-fashioned picnic hamper is ready for any adventure, with place settings and utensils for two, condiments, storage containers, wine opener and glasses, and a matching picnic blanket.

Owner Nathan Waldron explains his store philosophy this way: "I love good designand products that are fun, practical and attractive or clever in some way. If you have to open a can, you might as well use something that is fun to look at. Welre always searching for those everyday items that will add a little fun to your life, and can meld into your existing decor."

Gifts for the home range from tiny succulent gardens in vintage tins and cans, to sets of tasting spoons and tiny bowls. There are rugs, lamps and other home decor items with a sense of whimsy, and that integrate easily into todayls often eclectic style. A selection of cards lines part of one wall, many from local artists, including two staff members who have their own line of cards. The jewelry department along the back wall and counter features items for every price point, in sterling silver, gold and various stones, and styles ranging from elegantly simple to exuberantly bohemian. Here again, the store features local designers who make their own jewelry, for a distinctive look.

Nathan, who lives in Oakland, had worked for years on the product development side of retail, designing for firms like FOSSIL, and his childhood dream was to open his own store. The first NATHAN&CO opened on Piedmont Avenue in 2006. Nathan hoped to grow the company, and searched for the right new location. When he crossed the bridge and travelled through the tunnel, nothing seemed right; he kept coming back to Oakland. Realizing that people in Oakland want to patronize local merchants, and since hels always loved Rockridge, when this space came available, Nathan was ready.

He notes: "What I like best about Rockridge is that it is such a great neighborhood, with people who appreciate the idea of shopping locally and supporting the community. People here are very connected to each other and to the community, and it is so wonderful to see how proud they are of the variety of retail stores here ... that means a lot to us."

For a last-minute gift, NATHAN&CO offers beautiful giftwrap, sheets of unique, locally-designed wrap pretty enough to frame on their own.

Stop by, enjoy the fun yet practical designs; you'll surely find something for almost anyone on your list, including yourself.


Owner: Nathan Waldon
5636 College Avenue, Oakland
10:30 - 7:30 M-F | S/S 10:30 - 6:30