At Athens Running Company, shopping for running shoes is much like test-driving a car. As part of their mission to educate customers, owners and childhood friends Mark Schroeder and David Laggis consult closely with clients and perform complimentary fittings, whereby a foot scanner and a video gait analysis narrow down the best options for stability and comfort. Guests then slip their feet into the latest styles of footwear by the likes of Saucony, Asics, and Brooks before taking shoes for a 15-second spin on the shop?s treadmill so employees can evaluate their movement. Once customers have reviewed a selection of suitable pairs, they take the finalists out on an actual walk or jog, ensuring that the shoes give proper support by squeaking ?great job? after every mile.
Aside from carrying shoes for all running disciplines ranging from light jogs to triathlons, the shop?s staff also outfits visitors with workout apparel and accessories, including compression gear, orthotics, heart-rate monitors, and jogging strollers. Despite the breadth of their catalog, Mark and David both reject the personal detachment of a large retail store. They invest in several local running programs, sponsoring races where they time the competitors and host finish-line services. Works by neighborhood artists decorate the shop?s walls, alongside leashes and pet jackets by Ruffwear?items of potential interest to Mark's dog, Sam, who accompanies his owner to work each day.
In 1993, after years as a tech in the carpet cleaning industry, Gregory Cole founded Pro Carpet as a one-stop shop providing the best carpet-cleaning practices he had learned during his career. Gregory's team, which now numbers more than 30 techs, begins each carpet-cleaning service with a thorough walk-through, during which customers can point out specific soiled areas before the techs evaluate carpets for their levels of dirt, stains, and rainbow sprinkles. As they begin to clean, they employ steam-based cleaning and stain-specific products, such as the company's proprietary enzyme-based pet-stain formula, to remove odors and soils.
Pro Carpet's expertise also extends beyond carpeting, tackling upholstery and area rugs with the same thoroughness. They can also be called upon to repair water damage, clean office cubicles, and sweep dust and allergens from inside air ducts with professional-grade tools that improve air quality.
From one side, it’s a traditional wedding cake: dainty piped swags swoop across smooth white tiers. But as the quadruple-decker delicacy slowly rotates on its motorized stand, they come into view—fondant zombies. Carnage. Chaos. And, notes Deborah, real buttercream frosting.
This monstrous delicacy is only one example of the heights to which Deborah aims to reach in her quest to personalize cakes. The inveterate baker has frosted life-size guitars with intricately wrought whammy bars, and has solved the logistics of balancing a cake atop a perfect sphere. Each triumph is the result of in-depth consultations with clients. “I have to get to know them, get to know their personality,” says Deborah. Once she has ascertained her client’s style, a sketch and negotiations ensue, and the end result is a centerpiece that harmonizes with the celebration. Along with her careful attention to appearance, Deborah does not shirk taste: 10 pounds of butter and four heaping cups of real vanilla go into her buttercream frosting, which remains as airy and light regardless of the design.
A singing ballerina, Marilyn Monroe, a dainty geisha, and a tap-dancing chicken are just a few of the characters that deliver the singing telegrams that oft accompany CareAway Cakes & Gifts celebratory cupcakes. The crooning characters arrive to requested locations, whether that be the home of a loved one or the board meeting of a Fortune 500 CEO, to croon out personalized messages. Aside from the singing and sugar offerings—CareAway Cakes & Gifts acts as a one-stop shop for all party essentials including flowers, gift baskets, and specialty treats. Drawing on more than 20 years of experience, their pastry chef craft anything from cheesecakes and cupcakes to cookies, homemade pies, and gluten-free brownies. They also decorate customized cakes bearing designs such as a 3D rendition of a Georgia Bulldog, a 3D electric guitar, or cakes displaying cherished comic book heroes such as Spiderman and Business Casual Dan. Most baked goods are available for local shipping, and some are available for national shipping via UPS.
To weather his career as a master sergeant and a decorated Special Forces combat veteran, Shihan Randy McElwee needed a solid grasp on combat maneuvers. Nowadays, the retired McElwee teaches the pragmatic self-defense skills that got him through battle at his martial-arts studio, American Black Belt Academy. The school specializes in the official hand-to-hand combat system of the US military: Gracie Brazilian jujitsu. The system’s standing and ground moves harness leverage to take on larger opponents as well as help participants neutralize surprise attacks. For a broader focus, students can opt for an integrated martial-arts fitness workout, which combines jujitsu with muay thai kickboxing and Japanese shotokan karate. Regardless of their specificity, all of the studio’s classes enhance focus, self-confidence, and courage when the laundry room’s light goes out.
A fourth-generation artist, Rose Handy has always made time for creating. After a rollercoaster ride of life changes and moves, Rose and her potter husband Paul opened their own gallery and class space. Joined by a staff of illustrators, quilters, watercolorists, and other artisans, the owners encourage Wild Child students to find their own artistic voices, whether they're hand-building a ceramic bowl, painting a family portrait, or fusing glass pieces together to make a new glass family. The search for new avenues of creativity also extends to the studio's class offerings; beginning in January 2013, aspiring artisans can learn the intricacies of handbuilding and wheel-based pottery techniques as part of the shop's newest curriculum.