Walking into a Hobby Town USA is like immersing yourself in a science fair, toy store, and art-supply shop all at the same time. Started in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1980, the store has since grown across the nation while continuing to support the blooming minds of all hobby enthusiasts, whether they enjoy models, ant farms, kites, or wood carving. And since many of the staffers are involved in their own side projects outside the town of hobbies, they can happily guide guests through Hobby Town's many departments, offering tips and advice along the way.
FastFrame beautifies the boundaries of pulchritudinous photographs, pilfered paintings, memorable Big Mac wrappers, and other collectible items with expert custom framing, which ranges from around $46- $203. The shop’s team of experienced framesmiths boasts an artistic background and will happily walk you through the framing process. They’ll also help you navigate a showroom of more than 1,000 frame samples (many of which can be seen adorning the brick walls) and an even more bewildering array of mat boards, textures, and fabrics. Once you’ve made a selection, a computerized mat cutter allows for detailed mat designs; Frame Vue software makes it easy for customers to visualize how a striking frame will supplement their diorama of stuffed hamsters dressed as the major characters of Les Misérables. FastFrames’ 30-day design guarantee ensures that patrons are satisfied with their selections, and the shop’s lifetime craftsmanship guarantee safeguards frames against disintegrating into space dust.
Brooke Pottery features fine ceramic crafts and a host of handmade doodads from more than 400 American artists. A glazed, tri-colored McQueeny Belt Bowl ($48) offers a fetching soup-holding alternative to cupped palms, while the Heart Coaster Set ($40) lovingly shields countertops from clammy cocktails and over-fizzed sodas. Decorate feng shui–deficient gardens with ash-wood Chi Energy Amber wind chimes ($35), or embellish tree limbs with colorful Aloha Chimes ($42). For kids, the Blues Band Harmonica ($7) provides hours of fun in the key of harmonica.
Start by selecting any plate, bowl, flowerpot, mug, jug, or unexpected pottery discovery from a variety of contemporary and functional finely crafted artifacts. The Pottery Patch's colorful design books and friendly staff can help if you need inspiration or artistic guidance. After you make a sketch, you'll pick out paint colors (The Pottery Patch has more than 50 pigments). Then carefully direct your brush in tune with your dreams and wishes, letting your creative juices flow wildly onto the dinnerware of your choosing and spill onto the floor that is thoughtfully provided. There are no studio fees at The Pottery Patch, and pottery ranges from $7 to $75, depending on size and type. Once you're finished, The Pottery Patch glazes and fires your piece in a kiln; it'll be ready for pick-up in about a week, just like a slow-baking cake or a reverse movie rental.
Founded by Don and Cathy Statz in 1996, Victorian Village still employs many of its original staffers, who remain dedicated to helping guests find their ideal gift. Sips of gourmet coffee and nibbles of cookies provide much-needed sustenance as shoppers navigate the sprawling 15,999-square-foot store. Collectibles from Brighton, Lladro, and Swarovski beckon from their dedicated nooks, and patterned accessories by Vera Bradley encourage appropriate organization of toiletries, jewelry, and paisley swatch collections.
For more than 20 years, the professional photographers at Charlie's Angels Photography have worked to capture images that not only preserve memories but also incorporate artistic touches. Their digital galleries boast shots from larger occasions such as weddings and runway shows to private events such as boudoir and portrait sessions. Their staff also includes professional makeup artists, who can prep subjects for shoots or gussy up complexions before weddings or high-school-graduation re-enactments.