Michael Leonard

Small Business Awards 2008: Big Box Alternative Award

Cole Hardware

Rick Karp's parents bought the first Cole Hardware at the corner of Cole and Parnassus streets in 1961. Today the family business is still independent, but it now has four city locations.

"I told my wife I'd give it five years," Karp said with amusement, reflecting on how he's worked in hardware ever since he started helping out after school at age 12 before making it his full-time career in 1975.

After 40-plus years, Cole Hardware has 95 employees and is "green certified" by the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Read more »

Citizens vs. spies

San Francisco is at the center of a national debate over government and corporate surveillance of US residents


A Bay Area man and a San Francisco nonprofit are at the center of an epic, ongoing battle over privacy rights involving all three branches of the United States government. The outcome may determine the lines between national security and personal liberties in the 21st century.

The story begins in December 2005, when the New York Times exposed the George W. Bush administration as having illegally eavesdropped on US residents without required court warrants. Read more »