The Ellis family traces its history of working with plants to the late 1800s, when they operated a pottery-manufacturing company in Texas. Current-generation family members build from their familial expertise at all five of their store locations, spread between Louisiana and Texas. Twice a year, the Ellises travel overseas to identify upcoming horticulture trends decided by UN meetings in The Hague. This has expanded their decorative focus to include all aspects of home décor to complement greenhouses filled with tropical blooms and locally grown shrubbery. Clocks, lamps, and vases score homeowners extra credit in interior-design classes, and fountains and outdoor furniture make gardens hospitable for warm weather. For those who want to get ahead on holiday decorating, they offer an extensive selection of seasonal decor and accents year round. The Ellises encourage creativity with hands-on classes in subjects such as making centerpieces, weaving wreaths, and tying ribbon into perfect bows.
Lazy B General Store combines the welcoming atmosphere of a familiar small-town general store with the endless possibilities of a big-box genie-lamp outlet. Offering an extensive range of products including men's and women's Western apparel, produce and preserves, and accouterments for equine or canine friends too broke to do their own shopping, Lazy B keeps one booted foot in the good ole days with its rustic storefront and one in the flashy future with its online catalog. Multitasking browsers can pick up a Chesney-inspired cowboy hat ($29.95) and fill it with 10 gallons of Mayhaw jelly ($7 for 16 oz.). Men might grab a weekday Riggs Workwear by Wrangler shirt ($29.95) and weekend camo pocket tee ($19.99) for outdoor exploits. Cowgirls' jeans from Wrangler run as low as $13.49, and an offbeat Cruel Girl lace-trimmed tank top ($10.12) keeps ranch hands' heads turning like a horse in need of shoe rotation.
Led by experienced captains, the staff members at Caribbean Breeze keep watch over and rent out a small fleet of fishing, pontoon, and jet boats, as well as one socially awkward sailboat. Although they don’t provide the fishing gear or water skis, they keep their boats updated with features such as iPod docks, rod holders, and electric fish finders. The captains also afford guests picturesque views of the setting sun from their 40-foot pontoon party boat during sunset cruises and help passengers find delicious bounties during fishing charters.
Pati Villarreal knows the distinctive soil of Galveston Island—she's been tilling it since 1991. As the owner and operator of Island Lawn Care, she and her crews adeptly manage the untamed growth of palms and ferns and keep traditional straight-edged lawns looking neat and green. When hired to do regularly schedule maintenance, they change up the path they take through the yard with the mower to reduce the appearance of ruts in the grass, practicing what Pati calls an "alternate mowing pattern." In addition to keeping yards healthy and aesthetically pleasing, the adept workers can design landscapes, install plants and flowerbeds, and bribe lawn gnomes into staying put.
Despite the many flourishing yards left her wake, Pati doesn't consider a neat lawn to be the sole thing she's selling. "Our primary product is reliability," she says. This dependability surfaces in the business’ commitment to performing regular yard work, providing convenient electronic means of payment, and communicating in both English and Spanish.