One man crouches low, weapon resting on his shoulder. Another stands erect, a pair of binoculars held to his face. An entire military squad of toy soldiers stands ready for eternal battle within a shadow box crafted by Neal Raffensberger. The shadow box is one of 4,000 framing options showcased inside Raffensberger Photography & Framing's red-brick façade, where professional photographer and custom-framing specialist Neal and his assistant help patrons conserve their most beloved mementos. Multitudes of frames, mats, mountings, and glass—including conservation glass that blocks 99% of color-dulling UV rays—come together to display anything from photographs and posters to jerseys and wisdom teeth. Neal, who first dabbled in photography at the age of 5 in his father's basement darkroom, also flaunts his artistic eye behind the camera in the store's onsite studio. Families, couples, and proof-seeking Bigfoots can capture history in portrait sessions, which use digital photography to allow for immediate viewing after each shoot.
For over 30 years, 3 Day Blinds' technicians have sift through samples and unreel measuring tapes during in-home consultations, custom-fitting abodes with blinds, shutters, and shades. They handcraft and cut treatments such as faux wood blinds, vertical blinds, and flexcell honeycomb blinds that reduce light and are energy efficient. As they tailor-make each order, the staffers dress windows of all shapes and sizes, from an arch above a doorway to a misshapen wormhole in the attic. All of 3 Day Blinds’ products come with a limited lifetime warranty. After clients have made a selection, the team shows up just two days later to install the new window dressings or let customers do it themselves.
When owners Nancy Kanter and Julie Byrne founded Clay Café more than 14 years ago, they wanted to establish a cozy, unpretentious environment where families could spend quality time pottery-painting and embarking on other art projects. Describing what they envisioned to the Columbus Dispatch, Byrne stated, “We kind of wanted a grandma kitchen—something homey.” At Clay Café, visitors might forget they’re not relaxing in their own homes amid the studio’s popular mismatched chairs, flower tablecloths, and resident father yelling at a sports game on TV. The hospitable owners invite guests of all ages to let their artist instincts run wild during open-ended potter-painting sessions, and they host an array of special events including baby showers and birthday parties.
Ever since Joseph and Josephine Fortin founded Fortin Ironworks in 1946, the company's artisans have wrought ornamental furniture and home furnishings from iron and metal. They showcase products such as mailboxes, picture frames, and wine racks in a 5,500-square-foot show room, and also create larger items that range from custom handrails to heavy-duty benches emblazoned with logos. Patrons can plan ahead for warm weather activities with fire pits, lawn chairs, and other outdoor furniture to be enjoyed by houseguests or meddlesome garden gnomes.
Mattress Mart's slumber experts stock their stores with major-brand sleep surfaces?such as Serta, iComfort, and Simmons Beauty Rest?in twin, full, queen, and king sizes. Customers can rest their backs on the firm billows of a Factory Select twin set or support larger-scale lumbar regions with a soft, flippable Newport Flush set.
Things Remembered engraves charms, glassware, picture frames, and more to individualize everyday items with on-site personalization services. Diamond-tipped needles can etch surfaces with dates ($6), initials ($6), or fortune-cookie transcriptions ($3/word with two or more letters) in a variety of fonts, with premium fonts bestowing enhanced definition ($3+ extra). The store's staff of experts can assist customers with engraving decisions and are typically able to personalize in-store purchases before the end of the day and inscribe goods brought from home within 24 hours.