Atlantic Bedding and Furniture showrooms speckle the Southeast, each one a treasure-trove of fine furniture and top-brand mattresses. Attentive staffers bustle past collections of leather couches and arrangements of dark-wood dining sets, eager to assist customers in their quest to find a memory-foam mattress that best suits their sleeping habits or a rug that best covers up the dungeon trapdoor in their living room. If an item is out of stock, the attendants can have it shipped directly from the company's central warehouse—a cavernous storeroom packed with furniture from top vendors like Coaster, Sealy, and Lifestyle Solutions. Much of the furniture is available online, enabling customers to shop from the comfort of home.
Linda Minor, a member of the North Carolina Society of Goldsmiths and a former fashion buyer for J.C. Penney and Belk department stores, sells handmade creations within Bead Me’s spacious shop. Her first designed jewelry, which has been recognized as American-made by Martha Stewart, was chosen to be given to First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of the city of Charlotte, NC. She draws from her style expertise to create necklaces, earrings, and bracelets with pearls, coral, turquoise, Swarovski crystals, and semiprecious gemstones. Many of her pieces incorporate copper, an antimicrobial metal that resists fading. During fun, BYOB jewelry-making classes, Linda imparts her beading know-how to students of all skill levels, giving them hands-on practice with metal-manipulation techniques such as fold forming and reverse psychology.
Before looking through the camera lens, the expert photographers at Picture People spend time getting to know their subjects and establishing a strategy for conveying their personalities in print. Then, film-ready clients pose in the bright camera room, airing teeth amid colorful backdrops and creative props. Following snapshots, subjects make their way to the selection station to choose their favorite poses from their session, which may be treated with sepia tones, color accents, and decorative borders to suit any wall, wallet, wallpaper pattern, or trophy walleye.
Picture People encourages subjects to arrive 15 minutes early to the shoot and offers a variety of creative tips to help enhance mantel-dominating final results. The studio ensures satisfaction with a 100% guarantee on finished products.
Tom and Ryoko Nadeau founded Nadeau in 1991 with a goal of providing customers with quality home furniture and a wealth of product knowledge. The business quickly evolved into something larger: The duo now has 19 retail stores and a team of buyers who travel the world in search of one-of-a-kind, handcrafted pieces of solid-wood furniture. Nadeau has earned mentions from numerous media outlets—including the Washington Post, CBS Chicago, and Charleston Home magazine—for its unique selection, which includes a cache of more than 6,000 pieces ranging from rare side tables and chairs to dining sets. Pieces are never mass-produced, allowing customers to bring the flavor of different cultures into their homes or provide an adopted tree with a new friend.
Sisters and native Charlotteans Neha Negandhi and Monika Shah didn’t let respective stints in Seattle and Alaska keep them away from their hometown arts scene. Inspired by similar BYOB painting sessions seen during their travels, they harnessed their diverse experiences with event management and Alaskan train tours to open their own studio, where they encourage students of all artistic levels to tap into their inimitable creativity just as they did. Joined by an impressive cast of local artists, the sisters unfurl a calendar stocked with a barrage of painting options, allowing students to portray a sailboat with an impressionistic mast or a seahorse wearing a gilded saddle.
Justin Kates, portraitist and staff photographer for Stiff Magazine, captures fashion shots and glamour images with a honed aesthetic that edges toward the dark and gritty. Before each shoot, his makeup artist highlights features with a professional hand, either lightly accenting faces or artfully transforming them with heavy shadow. Throughout photography sessions, Justin creates provocative images that simultaneously highlight beauty while deconstructing it to reveal the depths beneath. After shoots, he helps clients select images that he professionally retouches. With a masterful hand he beefs up colors and blends out imperfections.
America’s Mattress of the Carolinas' show rooms brim with plush, pillow-top, and memory-foam mattresses that vary in firmness and coil structure to help any sleeper find a match. The staff invites clients to try out a nap or enchanted slumber upon one of the store's own brand of budget-friendly mattresses. The selection also includes Tempur-Pedic models and Serta models, such as the iComfort with gel-infused memory foam.
To accessorize their purchases, clients can peruse a selection of bedroom furnishings, memory-foam pillows, and mattress protectors that seal in a mattress's naturally smoky flavor. Clients can enlist the store's staff to help haul away old bedding and set up new purchases.
In a handful of studios scattered between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Springfield, Missouri, kids express their artistic creativity under the friendly supervision of Noah’s Art instructors. Classes cover a wide variety of topics—from painting and clay sculpture to vocals-based Song Art—and are arranged by age group, allowing children to interact with peers of a similar developmental stage while engaging in philosophical musings on the meaning of parent-enforced time-outs. Instructors also teach basic art tools and techniques, such as how to properly hold a paintbrush or sculpt clay using only your mind.
For more than 60 years, Fireside Hearth & Home’s staff has been a treasure-trove of information on their ample stock of fireplaces, stoves, and inserts. Not a single model on the store’s showroom stands alone. Each unit is integrated into a different scene on the floor to give shoppers an idea of what the fireplace might look like in their living rooms, kitchens, supervillain lairs, and outdoor patios. Fireside’s trained staff can also help install new stoves or fireplaces in homes, from Heat & Glo to Heatilator to Quadra-Fire products.
At more than 1,000 Mattress Firm locations around the country, shoppers sink into plush mattresses, recline on firm beds, and belly-flop onto pillow tops. Knowledgeable staffers can help customers create an ideal bedtime environment by dispensing advice based on sleep preferences and illuminating the difference between the many kinds of mattresses. And to the delight of their customers, much of Mattress Firm's bedding wears the label of a premium brand, such as Sealy, Serta, Simmons Beautyrest, or Stearns & Foster.
Among the largest shows of their kind in the southeast, ICA events gather vendors from across the region and beyond to display rare, original pieces, including high-end antiques and vintage jewelry, as well as collectible toys, sports memorabilia, and military paraphernalia. Handmade and gourmet food options help sustain patrons as they wander the 98,000-square-foot space, perusing the imported china, furniture, and still-wrapped President Eisenhower figurines replete with karate-chop action.
Stoneware expert Andrew Linton schedules sessions in his spacious studio for couples of all potted persuasions to hone their creative skills. Having taught workshops at Midlands Clay Arts Society and the Mint Museum of Charlotte, Andrew encourages a hands-on approach to the ceramic arts in the studio he owns and operates himself. Customers with little or no experience in shot put can learn the fundamentals of wheel throwing in a beginners' class, which also covers trimming techniques designed to give your flower vase or cauldron a refined design. Forthcoming masterworks are then hardened in the bisque firing process, after which customers have the option of taking their freshly fired pots to be glazed (additional fee applies) at the in-store donut shop.
Ruby's Gift peddle a plethora of paintings, jewelry, and more, all handcrafted by local artists. Guests can adorn free cartilage with a pair of earrings ($30+) and necklaces ($60+), or nourish neighboring pores with lip balms ($3), soaps ($6), and lotions ($9). Speed up housewarming without rubbing wooden chairs together by acquiring one of the many colorful paintings, which vary in price but tend to cost upward of $100. Parents are free to dock young ones at convenient kids' play areas located within both Ruby’s Gift locations.
At FastFrame, highly trained framers enhance artwork, memorabilia, photographs, and other keepsakes with custom-crafted frames. Like a magic 8 ball's opinion on investment portfolios, the prices at FastFrame vary wildly, hinging on size and scope—many projects start at around $100. Accent mementos with a complementary wood or metal frame, or prevent precious fine art from escaping walls and joining traveling art shows. Framers can add mats to ensure a dramatic, polished presentation, and seal the back of frames to guard works from dust and debris. FastFrame safeguards client satisfaction with a 30-day design guarantee, allowing owners to return pieces if they can't play nicely with nearby light fixtures, in addition to a lifetime craftsmanship guarantee.
Campbell's Greenhouses offers a plethora of plants and petaled products for the green thumbs and green hearts of the Charlotte area. Opt for orchids in large double-spiked ($50), medium double-spiked ($48), and medium single-spiked ($45) varieties, or use exquisite miniatures ($14.95+) to fill out forests for action figures and shrink-ray victims alike. Privacy seekers can use four-inch foliage ($3.95–$6.95), six-inch foliage ($7.95–$18.95), or eight-inch foliage ($14.95–$22.50) to shield windows and stargates from the sight of paparazzi and unsolicited pizza delivery guys, with an assortment of other buds and blossoms available for garden populating.