All Fired Up serves as a portal to a wonderland of creative possibilities, where guests select figurines and dishware from multiple walls’ worth of pre-fired ceramics and unleash a flurry of brushstrokes over unembellished pieces. All of the shop’s bisques are dishwasher-safe, and its water-based paints are non-toxic and easily washable from hands, clothes, and Bride of Frankenstein wigs, making projects appropriate for artists of all ages. A panoply of pre-made designs makes a great starting point for gifts, which visitors can further personalize with hand, foot, or paw prints. Locally owned and operated, All Fired Up helps play its part in the community with a wealth of fundraising projects, such as paintable piggy-banks for donation drives.
Metro Cooks' recently expanded suppliery houses an array of professional-quality cookware, great for equipping home mess halls and surprising food fanatics. A selection of cooks' tools from a number of top brands, including Chef N, Zyliss, Salter, and Rosle, makes peeling carrots quicker and grating cheese easier on the fingernails ($7.25+) and scores of professional-grade steel knives from Wusthof, Henkels, and others improve slicing precision ($7.49+). The plugged-in paddles and blades of Krupps and Cuisinart appliances chop veggies and mix dough to the pliable consistency necessary for bread sculptures of Martha Stewart ($35.99+). Add zest to favorite dishes with tasty truffle oil, fig jam, barbecue-spice rubs, and specialty salts ($4.99+) or benefit from the baking prowess of All-Clad, Le Creuset, and Emile Henry cookware ($23.99+).
Inside its colorful storefront, Metro Music & Book Store stocks an extensive collection of previously-read fiction and nonfiction, nestled alongside rows of folk, rock, pop, hip-hop, and blues albums. Many of Metro Music’s publications sell for at least half off the cover price ($8 on average), so even relatively new releases are within the reach of frugally minded book worms. In the music collection, color-coded sections allow for easy genre-based browsing for the most mind-melting cuts and the grooviest subliminal messages (CDs start at $8.98). To give a newfound book a quick scan, customers can hang out at the in-store Café Felix, a laid-back spot to sip on daily roasted coffee, snack on crêpes, and read a best-selling novel about a talking vacuum cleaner that becomes UN Secretary-General.
The warmth of the staff at Mile 5.2 Greenhouse & Gift Shop rivals the warmth of its hand-tended conservatory. The affable plant buffs rely upon customer-focused service to combat impersonal "big-box stores," gladly guiding visitors through their greenhouse's lush pathways where flowers peek from hanging baskets and tropical plants share the roof with herbs. More than 125 types of perennials and fruit-bearing boughs boost their resilience as they endure the winter cold, training their blooms to return year after year so they can one day avenge their ancestors against the weed-whackers of clumsy gardeners.
In addition to its striking greenery, the Eagle River outpost stocks their gift shop with an array of gourmet foods, ranging from Lake Champlain chocolate bars and Oregon salt-water taffy to hearty soup and bread mixes. Additionally, home accessories such as wind chimes and scented candles can pair with potted petals to create colorful gift combinations.