Typewriters are a passion for Herbert L. Permillion III and the California Typewriter family. One of the last typewriter sales and repair stores in the country, this place is special—and recently movie director Doug Nichol took notice. Legends such as Tom Hanks and Sam Shepard share their love of typewriters in Nichol's 2017 critically acclaimed documentary California Typewriter (CaliforniaTypewriterMovie.com), which features Herbert and fellow typewriter repair expert Ken Alexander. Whether you're a longtime fan of typewriters or have a newborn love of their nostalgia, pop into the shop on San Pablo Avenue and see what all the fuss is about.
"We try to keep a variety of makes, models, and machines in the store," Alexander said. "We service every make, IBM included. We mainly work on portables, but we do also work on uprights."
If you're looking to fall in love with a typewriter, it's key to find the right touch. "Each model of typewriter has its own touch and feel," explained Alexander. "You have to try the typewriter to experience it. That's why each person will have a personal favorite, depending on the touch they like. Personally, I like the Hermes 3000 made in Switzerland during the 1950s and 1960s, but other people might get excited about a 1920s Royal."
The idea for the documentary was born when director Doug Nichol was searching for a place that could service his Underwood portable typewriter. "Doug walked in with his machine, we helped him, then a day or two later, he came back in, saying he was a cinematographer and filmmaker and asked if he could make a five-minute short film about the store. He thought that maybe he would pitch it to PBS," Alexander said.
Turns out, there was more magic afoot than anyone bargained on. After Nichol spent a few days editing, he came back to California Typewriter and asked if he could bring in more lighting and more cameras and spend more time filming.
"It was really a passion project, a labor of love for him from the start and also for all of the stars who participated," said Alexander. "He spent over a year editing the movie. The reaction I get from my customers here is that it's one of the most beautiful films they have ever seen." Permillion bought the shop in 1981 and is safeguarding a space for typewriters in our modern, computer-driven world. Along with Alexander, Permillion's daughters Carmen and Candace also work in the shop. Stop in sometime soon and get a glimpse of this special space. 2362 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-845-3780, open noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Fri., noon-3 p.m. Sat., and open by appointment Tue.; learn more online at www.CaliforniaTypewriter.com.
Esqueleto offers a gorgeously curated selection of ethically sourced goodies. Part jewelry store, part art gallery, and part social statement, you can purchase in good conscience thanks to the owner's commitment to social and environmental sustainability. Owner Lauren Wolf opened the jewel box-size shop in Temescal Alley in 2011 as a way to showcase her eponymous line along with the creations of other independent jewelry designers. Perfect for an afternoon of enjoying eye candy or a magical place to find a one-of-a-kind engagement ring (made with recycled metals and conflict-free diamonds), all the designs carried in Esqueleto are divinely unique. The shop is a haven of spare style, succulents, and antique display cases housing the beautiful pieces. There are monthly trunk shows so that you can meet your favorite jewelry designers and experience their expanded collections.
In addition to the stunning wearable art, Esqueleto features a different visual artist every two months. A new art exhibit kicks off on Friday, Feb. 2, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Check out the works of San Francisco painter and draftswoman Rachel Kaye before strolling area galleries for First Friday (OaklandFirstFridays.org). It's an opportunity to meet the artist while also shopping the irresistible beauties in the jewelry cases. Light refreshments will be served. 482 A 49th St., Oakland, 510-629-6216, www.ShopEsqueleto.com, www.Instagram.com/shopesqueleto.
Channel your inner Valentine at Resurrect on Saturday, Feb. 10. The cozy boutique on Piedmont Avenue is always good for regional and locally made clothing, art, accessories, apothecary, and jewelry—but especially perfect for Valentine's Day. In honor of the much-maligned holiday, owner Kate Morrow organized A Day of Love & Light. Shop the boutique for extended hours (11 a.m. to 9 p.m.), enjoy a tarot reading by The Lioness Oracle from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (call to secure your space), sample herbal tincture creations by Bitter Witches, purchase handmade lingerie, or just come in and feel the love.
For an out-of-the-box gift, give a love potion, edible massage oil, or herbal elixir by local maker Eye of Crow Herbs. The fine goods carried at Resurrect are ethically made locally or in the United States—or else are designated fair trade. In addition to gifts and tarot, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. there will be an art opening for the new sculptural light exhibit on display. Enjoy wine and tea and take the opportunity to meet artists Ross Clark and Alex Abajian and learn about their respective sculptural works. Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all bad. 4135 Piedmont Ave., 510-653-8716, www.ResurrectOakland.com, www.Instagram.com/resurrectoakland.
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Herbert L. Permillion III at California Typewriter knows a lot about typewriters of all kinds—and can fix them, too. Photo courtesy Doug Nichols.