Cleveland | A Continuous Lean.

The Office Supply Store That Time Forgot.

Apr 1st, 2013 | Categories: Cleveland, Office Supplies | by Michael Williams

IMG_5556

IMG_5553

On the West Side of Cleveland sits Buehner’s Office Supply, a trip back to a time when office supply stores were the cog in the wheel of business. The shop is also a window into a world where analog was king. More than that, a visit here reminds you of the not so distant past when nearly everything was made by thousands of little independent companies all over the United States. Not so much anymore.

It’s not just a place to pick up a “scratch pad” (which I actually did, made in Murica too), Buehner’s is a time machine into a world that doesn’t exist anymore. The alternative —Staples and the like — are spacious, efficient and homogenous; shopping there is an experience that parallels a lobotomy. Almost everything is unbranded, devoid of character, cheap and easy. I understand why it is what it is, but that doesn’t make me actually like it.

I’m the type of person to seek out the specific maker of envelopes and order them direct rather than buy some cheap house brand. Some people would say that makes me a hipster (yuppie) and a lot of people don’t really get my allure to the indies, but some of you certainly understand and appreciate the alternative. I’d rather pay more for something with personality. I’d rather support the small paper company that makes very specific product and I’d prefer give my money to support “know how,” rather than just perpetuate a lifetime of cheap shit. This store actually makes me think about some experiences I’ve had traveling, it’s always so disappointing to fly halfway around the world and find that everything is exactly the same. A better word for it is depressing.





The Great American Thermos Hoard.

Mar 20th, 2013 | Categories: Americana, Cleveland | by Michael Williams

Kvatek_Thermos_collection_10

There’s a man in my hometown of Cleveland named Kyle Bitters who has been amassing a considerable collection of vintage thermoses. I recently learned about this collection of American vacuum bottles from another Clevelander (the talented photographer Eric Kvatek) who posted photos of all of these old thermoses on his blog. The significance of all of these thermoses was not lost on me, once I saw this place I quickly emailed Eric to find out more. The thermos guy, Kyle, who’s a retired air traffic controller, has apparently been collecting these since 1990 and has focused on metal bodied thermoses that don’t have characters or cartoons on them. His collection is greater than any I have ever seen. I’m sure someone in Japan would come and buy it from him for a considerable sum. Though, I’d have half a mind to make Kyle an offer myself.

Kvatek_Thermos_collection_01 Kvatek_Thermos_collection_02

Kvatek_Thermos_collection_06





Shopping Cleveland | West Side Market

Oct 14th, 2012 | Categories: Cleveland, Food | by Michael Williams

As a kid, my father took me with him to the West Side Market about once a week to accompany him as he made the rounds visiting his favorite butchers, bakers and produce sellers. The market has so much going on, so many things to see smell and taste, it was always an eye-opening event for me and it remains one of my most cherished childhood memories of Cleveland. Getting the opportunity to show off the West Side Market to a few friends that were visiting last weekend, the experience remains as great as it ever was. It’s good to know some things don’t change.





Stopping into Cuff’s Clothing.

Dec 24th, 2011 | Categories: Cleveland, Menswear, Retail | by Michael Williams

Out and about in Cleveland today, I spent the afternoon doing some last minute Christmas shopping (the last minute makes you the most productive — don’t forget it). Eventually I ventured over to Cuff’s Clothing — one of my favorite shops. I was thinking just last week that stores like Cuff’s in Chagrin Falls and O’Connell’s in Buffalo are two truly unique menswear shops that set the standard for specialty retail in America. When I go to Cuff’s I can’t help but to think how the selection is both classic and modern at the same time, with an emphasis on quality. Cuff’s sells brands like Crockett & Jones, Brioni, Kiton, Charvet, Barbour, Southwick and Oxxford — among others. Also, Cuff’s has what I think is the only remaining Hermès shop-in-shop in the United States. And all of this in a world where many specialty retailers are either painfully boring or going out of business.





CLEVELAND BROWNS CUSTOMER SERVICE c.1974

Dec 27th, 2010 | Categories: Cleveland, Sports | by Michael Williams

A classic exchange between a season ticket holder and the Cleveland Browns front office from 1974. It’s a shame that no one would have the balls to send a reply like this today. The customer is not always right.





Adventures in Childhood Nostalgia | Cleveland Zoo Key

Jan 25th, 2010 | Categories: Americana, Cleveland | by Michael Williams

The early 1950s saw the invention and introduction of “talking storybooks” that were dreamed up by Bay area native Bruce Sedley. The San Francisco zoo was the first American zoo to use talking storybooks and at the same time introduced the ingenious elephant shaped key called Trunkey the Elephant. Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, San Francisco, New York (Bronx Zoo) all had their own talking storybooks and elephant keys. I remember bringing the key to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo as a kid — something really special that I look back upon fondly. When I was home for the holidays my dad unearthed one of the keys our family had from the late 70s. It had been in his desk for the last 30 or so years. I’m glad dad never throws anything out. Anyone out there remember these things?

zoo_key

My elephant key from the Cleveland Zoo





The Best Around | Cuffs Clothing

Jan 3rd, 2010 | Categories: Cleveland, Men's Stores, Shopping | by Michael Williams

Cuffs_Clothing_Chagrin_Falls_Ohio_10

A few weeks ago I wrote a little something for GQ about one of my favorite stores on earth, Cuffs Clothing in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. The store has a stocklist to end all stocklists and carries everything from Barbour to Charvet, Southwick to Oxxford; basically everything a gent could ever need. Seeing as GQ couldn’t use all of my images, I thought I would share them with you here. But you can read more about the Cuffs over at GQ.