Every year at Ann Arbor Fest, Catching Fireflies founders Steve and April paused from manning their paper-arts booth to admire the folksy paintings of local artist Chris Roberts-Antieau. When they finally saved up enough to purchase their favorite piece, “Catching Fireflies,” it led to a flash of inspiration: a shop dedicated to showcasing similarly whimsical artwork and supporting local artists.
Now, Catching Fireflies’ inventory spans the spectrum, from leather-bound journals and wall art to children’s toys, and has been lauded in Rochester-Rochester Hills Patch. Once customers have honed in on wares, staff can gift-wrap them free of charge, thereby eliminating the need to conceal them behind Groucho glasses.
Recently heralded on the vegan blog I Eat Trees, Pure NRG, founded by Robyn Milewski, distributes freshly baked treats that are gluten-free, dairy-free, organic, and have no sugar added. Log on to the Pure NRG site to browse the shop's selection of sumptuous vegan treats, baked with healthy and exotic ingredients, such as coconut and tapioca flour, hemp protein, agave nectar, and chia seeds. Chomp on a carob cherry almond bar ($3) and a pumpkin chai cranberry loaf ($6.99), or bake a pie on gluten-free pizza-crust bread (two for $8.72). Caffeinated cravers can even brew up a pot of chocolate-coconut coffee ($12.99 for a 1 lb bag) for a blast of all-natural energy.
Simplicity. That's the name of the game at Aio, a wireless provider that streamlines the process of buying a plan or figuring out which smartphone best complements your face shape. For instance, the company doesn’t do annual contracts, offers just three data plans, and a features a convenient bring-your-own phone policy. For those in the market for a new phone, Aio offers discounts on popular models, such as the Samsung Galaxy, iPhone 5c, and Nokia Lumina, as well as tablets and basic work-horse phones that don't need to be tickled in order to work. And whether customers need coverage for a new phone or an existing device, Aio's straightforward nationwide data plans make choosing easy. There's the Basic plan, the Smart plan, and the Pro plan, each of which feature unlimited talk and text at up to 4G LTE speeds.
Modern Skate & Surf’s alternative-sports shop was founded in 1979 and has since hosted events frequented by Olympic and professional athletes—including superstar Tony Hawk—as well as earned a feature as Best Snowboard Shop in 2012 from Real Detroit Weekly. In Modern Skate Park's world-class, 60,000-square-foot Royal Oak skate park—one of the largest facilities of its kind in the US—skateboards grind across rails or glide over jumps, and inline skaters whiz over obstacles and BMX bikes hang in midair. Customers can build on their extreme-sports skills in clinics and lessons or rent out the facility for parties or high-speed chases. Committed to supporting the next generation of extreme athletes, Modern Skate Park offers discounts to students who bring in report cards sporting A’s and B’s.
In addition to the skate park, Modern Skate & Surf also maintains a East Lansing store that stocks snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, skating, and protective gear to facilitate exciting adventures.
English Gardens began as a single, family-owned nursery in 1954, and has since blossomed into a full-service landscaping and garden center with multiple locations, all owned and operated by second-generation family members. Each location facilitates both indoor and outdoor gardening projects. The florist department brings the outdoor flourish inside by arranging fresh-cut floral bouquets and gift baskets for all manner of occasions. Workshops and in-store presentations also allow the green-thumbed experts to impart advice on common gardening and decorating topics such as building a kitchen herb garden or housetraining a dogwood tree. During the summer season, English Gardens holds a summer planting sale as well as weekly in-store gardening tutorials every Saturday at 10 a.m.