For more than a decade, Middle C Music has equipped songcrafters with the instruments and expertise needed to articulate their own sonic expressions. Racks of guitars and ukuleles hang from the shop’s walls, along with accessories such as sheet music, songbooks, and extra sets of limbs for playing double guitars. Orchestral instruments by the likes of Bach, Jupiter, and Cannonball are available for purchase or month-by-month rentals. The shop also curates a team of musical experts of various disciplines for weekly lessons and Rock Band camps, where kids spend five days learning to play as an ensemble and spin their own interpretations of rock classics.
L'Eclat de Verre's skilled technicians specialize in putting the finishing touches on precious works of art. Each image-wrangler has completed four years of framing school, mastering 18th century, contemporary, and rare fourth-dimensional techniques. Since no two pieces of art are alike, the method of construction will vary depending on what is being framed. All framing methods are conservation quality and use acid-free materials to ensure long-lasting displayability. For those looking to add a finishing flair to their pieces, more than 800 varieties of textured and handmade papers from all over the world are available as matting choices. As with wholesale pizza parlors, prices vary from piece to piece, with 8"x10" objects ranging from $85–$210 on average, 16"x20" objects ranging from $170–$380 on average, and 24"x36" objects ranging from $310–$625 on average.
With more than one million book titles to choose from, Barnes & Noble stocks one of the retail world's largest selections of bound pages, along with a huge assortment of educational toys and games. Keep sprightly scribes from using walls, furniture, and siblings as writing surfaces with the help of LeapFrog’s Scribble & Write ($24.95 online), or indulge kids’ natural passions for outer space and solid detective work with a LEGO Space Police Smash ’n’ Grab set ($19.95 online).
For 50 years, the owners and staffers of Plaza Artist Materials & Picture Framing have encouraged the artists of their community. They visit local fairs and set up booths for kids to color and craft, and they workshops, demos, and classes for artists of every age. As their name implies, they also outfit art makers of all skill levels with top-of-the-line materials, such as Gamblin oil paints, Prismacolor pens and markers, and custom frames perfect for saving a favorite art pieces or memorializing a sibling's failure to color within the lines.
Named one of Parents magazine's Top 10 Birthday Chains in 2010, Color Me Mine's international franchise of DIY ceramics studios cater to an older crowd as well. Hundreds of unadorned ceramic pieces?including vases, flatware, and busts of Elvis?await the attentions of muses of kids and their keepers alike, as do glazes in earthy tones and bright crimsons to frighten bulls away from china cabinets. Guests follow simple step-by-step instructions that leave plenty of room for creative expression. When painters are satisfied with their work, the professional kiln-workers help glaze and fire it for them before customers retrieve the finished piece a few days later.
Banner's Hallmark hosts unique gifts and Hallmark greeting cards that creatively accent any holiday or special occasion. In the absence of sufficient stashes of construction paper for homemade coupon books, offspring can bestow upon hard-working patriarchs a puzzle-themed photo card personalized with an ingratiating image of the family ($3.49). Assorted gifts include décolleté-decorating jewelry, such as DaVinci beads ($6.99 each), and a library of recordable storybooks ($29.95 each). In the home-goods department, comely chalices provide sturdier drinking alternatives to sippy cups and wineskins made out of swiss cheese. Prices and selection may vary based on location.