So established is Circle K that even brand-new vehicles recognize what its red-and-white logo stands for—fuel, snacks, and everything else a car might need to keep powering down the road with its driver. Circle K's story starts back in 1951, when Fred Hervey bought three Kay's Food Stores in El Paso, Texas. Under his guidance, these three little shops grew into the more than 3,000 convenience stores that crouch on our nation's street corners today.
After rolling up to a Circle K, drivers can pump their faithful roadsters full of high-octane fuel and send them skipping through a car wash to experience the cleansing touch of Blue Coral Beyond Green and Rain-X products. Then it's time to step inside the air-conditioned shop for a peek at the provisions. Rows of sodas hibernate behind glass doors, and snacks, candy, and their ATM guardians stand boldly out in the open. Some Circle Ks also offer the Take Away Café, which presents an appetizing lineup of healthy road fare including Ball Park hot dogs. Drivers can gear up for a long drive with Premium Coffees or enjoy a cold Polar Pop, whose specially formulated cup keeps drinks colder thanks to the family of tiny snowmen trapped in its foam walls.
When curating their eclectic inventory, which ranges from tiny necklace charms to stately furniture pieces, the shopkeeps at Cedarburg Square prioritize quality and character in an effort to set themselves apart from big-box stores. Named after Cedarburg, Wisconsin—a small town with an old-fashioned main street lined with boutiques and shops—the store seeks to fuse big-city style with small-town service. Store buyers hunt for products in San Francisco, Dallas, and Atlanta, and these stylish finds are sold in-store with complimentary gift wrapping and friendly service. Shopping becomes a treasure hunt as browsers linger at tables heaping with dishes, jewelry, decorations, and at least one lamp with a genie in it. Popular gifts include soy-based Excursion candles, Beaucoup charm necklaces, and bouquets harvested from a garden of silk flowers. On Saturdays, chefs pass out samples of gourmet recipes, dispensing tips and recommending products. Great à la carte or in custom gift baskets, gourmet foods include sauces, candies, coffee, and tea from brands such as Robert Rothschild, Shooting Star, and Bella Cucina.
Darcy Rae calms the senses and lifts the spirit in her soothing spa space. Here, she specializes in the holistic healing art of reiki, a method of amplifying inner healing energy, which is also known as "ki." During each session, Darcy aims to balance mental and emotional energy while striving to relieve stress, promote relaxation, assuage pain, and invoke healing and wellness. In addition to her work as a reiki practitioner, Darcy enhances her guests' natural beauty with a menu bursting with spa treatments, available ? la carte or in decadent packages. Sundry facials brighten visages, and relaxing massages can moisturize as they detangle muscle knots.
With cell-phone oases spread across the continental US, Cricket Wireless keeps people in touch without shackling customers to burdensome contracts. Linked with the company’s own 3G network, handsets from Samsung or Android and BlackBerry smartphones allow customers to explore the internet at high speeds from the comfort of their own phones. The stores also carry accessories that expand each phone’s functionality, from speakers that add extra thump to MP3s to memory cards with enough space to hold photos, music, and live recordings of last night’s dreams.