Dorri Partain 
Assistant Editor 

Men: Have you ever wondered where ladies set all their belongings when they head to the Powder Room?

If a gal is lucky, she will find a Nik-O-Lok utility pull-down shelf to place purses, gloves, hats and more. This spring-loaded shelf, at 15 inches long and 5 inches wide, will hold up to 150 pounds. Placed conveniently behind the restroom stall door, the user can pull it down and set their items there, without worrying about them becoming dirty or left behind, as items require removal before the shelf will fit snuggly back against the wall and the user can open the door.

Crafted from Zamac — a zinc, aluminum, magnesium and copper alloy — this sturdy metal is the same that toy cars such as Hot Wheels are cast from. The design has changed little since 1949, when Nik-O-Lok first introduced the item to its product line. William J. Dobkin — shelf inventor —  applied for the patent in 1944. He also patented the wall-mounted liquid soap dispenser in 1946, albeit for a different company.

The company’s main product is the toilet door lock — named Nik-O-Lok, as it once cost a nickel to unlock the toilet door in public facilities. Founded in 1910 by Charles Van Cleave, the company has always headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and family-owned and operated. In addition to toilet locks, which now cost a quarter to operate, the company manufactures toilet door hinges, latches and the utility shelf. All products are still “Made in USA.”

This example is installed inside the Ladies’ restroom at the Northeast Chamber of Commerce, 2657 Independence Blvd., which was built as the William S. Chick Post Office in 1964.