The Benchmark Outfitter equips customers with element-tested adventure gear, packing caravans with accessories ranging from sleeping bags to outdoor attire. Ladies surmount Mother Nature’s challenges enrobed in a cotton North Face logo tee ($20) and Patagonia lightweight bottoms ($45) with fast-drying, moisture-attacking polyester fabric. A men's multifunctional friction belt ($20) keeps pants in place and doubles as a lash strap during climbs or lasso during duels with wild cowboys. To lug all your gear with ease, fasten on a Burton Treble Yell pack ($34.95), which has room for a laptop, water, or drums full of trail mix. Adventures also find seasonal paraphernalia tucked within the shop’s confines, with skis for winter’s snows, tents for summer’s sun, and nets for spring’s leprechaun hunts.
Jacob Shoushan is on a mission—to not only outfit people's feet with comfortable and long-lasting shoes but also to support underserved American children. His company, Jacob Shoes, slips canvas footwear in an assortment of colorful patterns onto customers’ feet and donates $1 for every pair purchased to Save the Children. This worldwide organization provides underserved children with food, school supplies, clothing, and medical attention in order to ensure a better life and help break the cycle of poverty. Patrons can feel good about buying a pair of fiery red Jessicas or some black-and-white striped Alexanders, knowing their purchase is being used for the betterment of tomorrow.
For Meredith McCord, looking at a piece of pottery brings back decades worth of memories. McCord started The Mad Potter in 1998, and since those early days, she's used her kiln to immortalize countless special moments. She traveled to hospitals to capture the footprints of newborns, helped a young man create a dessert plate with the words "Will you marry me?" emblazoned across it, and auctioned off items for charity. Yet some of her fondest memories center on the day-to-day interactions with customers, specifically when they return to pick up their fired pieces and utter three words of amazement: "I did that?"
The Mad Potter has since expanded into three Houston-area locations, where children and adults come to paint their own works of art or create replicas of their ancient ancestors' garden gnomes. More than 500 bisqueware items line the shelves of each studio, including coffee mugs, plates, and figurines. Staffers then help visitors select from more than 54 available colors of paint and supply them with everything else they might need, including brushes and stencils. The staff can even take things over and create more intricate designs—while still consulting closely with the customer. Whatever route a person chooses, there's always time for a sip of wine or beer; the River Oaks location sells wine and beer while Bellaire and Woodway maintain a BYOB policy.
For nearly a decade, Camargo Trading Company owner Meggan Sulfsted has sought out designer jewelry, hand-poured candles, and other little luxuries that infuse a home or an outfit with personal style. But she isn’t only shopping for herself—she stocks these items in her boutique, which she operates out of a charming, multi-storied structure in Madeira. There, shoppers can take a look at the store’s aromatic bath products and its Longchamp and Botkier handbags, then decide whether they should buy something for themselves or get a gift for their future alter-egos. They can also find plush toys, chenille blankets, and children’s clothing.
Eight bags. Two platforms. Two six-inch holes. One distinctly American game. The origins of cornhole are shrouded in mystery. Some say it derives from a German game, while others claim it is a descendent of a similar sport played by Native Americans. But one thing is certain—it's serious business. That's why the American Cornhole Organization was formed in 2005. By setting the rules, establishing annual tournaments and competitions, and firmly banning the practice of using trained birds to dunk bags, these referees have codified the sport and elevate it to a professional level.
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