In the eight years since the start of Local Furniture Outlet, the cherished baby business of Mr. Aaron Masterson has grown up fast—from a 2,000-square-foot metal warehouse to four locations and more than 80,000 combined square feet of furniture. But the success didn't go to Aaron’s head. The proud father still traverses showrooms in casual flip-flops, enforcing a no-competition policy so that loyal staff members don’t feel pressured to make a quota. The stripped-down showrooms allow for lower price tags on direct-from-manufacturer brands such as Ashley, Simmons, and Crown Mark. Patrons are invited to peruse dining-room, living-room, and bedroom sets—or “kick the tires,” as Aaron puts it—without the pushy-push of larger retailers, who may use turkey legs to reward team members for sales.
The Ukraine, 1914. Sam Braslau, the son of a miller, has saved enough money to immigrate to America. When he arrives, he peddles clothing from a horse-drawn buggy to earn the money to send for his brothers. In 1925, the brothers open the first Braslau’s—a dry-goods store. In 1927, the brothers expand their scope, adding furniture to their inventory. With this decision, they ensure that their name would stay on the lips of design-minded homeowners for the rest of their lives and beyond.
Today, Braslau's Fine Home Furnishings has evolved into a 70,000-square-foot furniture showroom, where Blake Breslau continues to hone his family’s accumulated knowledge and experience in the furniture industry. Inside, customers browse desks, chairs, sofas, and dinettes from brands such as Ashley Furniture, Broyhill, Klaussner Home Furnishings, and LaCrosse. In the sleep center, mattresses from Sealy, Simmons, and Tempur-Pedic promise the perfect night’s sleep, or the perfect testing ground for amateur trampoline routines.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
For more than 60 years, Kwal Paint's team has designed colors to complement almost any décor, continually refreshing the palette of more than 1,600 shades to reflect trends and advancements in interior decorating. To wit: EnviroKote paints are made from eco-friendly, raw materials and contain no VOC. Additionally, online virtual color-visualizing applications help homeowners realize the abode of their dreams. As ever, the knowledgeable staff is on hand to guide customers through common issues such as blistering or how to revamp garden gnomes stuck in last season's styles.
At The Royal Canvas Painting Parlor, owner Cassie Black and her staff of art instructors teach painters of all skill levels to create canvas-bound masterpieces. Each class blurs the line between artistry and social interaction, like when Leonardo da Vinci would bring the Mona Lisa to parties as his date. The focus falls on a predetermined painting composition, ranging from a quirky, cartoonish sheep for children's classes to re-creations of iconic works such as van Gogh's The Starry Night to challenge more adept artists. While students follow step-by-step instructions, they sip wine, nibble snacks, and rediscover their creative side.
Armoires & Accents spruces up dull spaces with its eclectic selection of home furnishings, steeped in exclusiveness and quality. Working with designers in India, Peru, and Mexico, Armoires & Accents directly imports its domicile attire, from accenting pillows, candles, and artwork to room-complementing tables and bedroom sets and wish-granting antiques. Pick up an elaborate iron candelabra ($290) for spooky, yet stylish poetry readings, or take a seat on a woven Ana Waterhyacinth chair ($178). The Indian Biedermeier side table ($280) provides a glamorous home for lamps, keys, and other traditional pocket contents, and the Abu urn ($159) makes a chic housewarming gift or statement piece.