Frugal Muse is all about second chances. Within its 7,000 sq. ft. of retail space, a novel's protagonist can take another shot at defeating the villain, finding true love, or successfully opening a pickle jar. Here, shelf after shelf holds lightly-used and discounted books, vinyl records, movies, video games, and CDs. At one end of the store, a $1 bargain wall surrounds patrons with even more discounted reading materials, while two separate rooms brim with 10,000 items for kids.
As for the source of these second-hand materials, Frugal Muse relies on its customers, who can bring in gently used items for store credit (or cash in certain cases). And while second-hand items remain the focus, the store does stock some new reading materials. The staff can even special order most books in print for about 25% off their going price.
Between Gorilla Games' bright yellow walls, knowledgeable gamers stock shelves with new, used, and retro video games and accessories. They help customers choose discs and cartridges to take home or accept trade-ins of old games to feed to an ever-changing selection spanning all generations of Nintendo, Sega, Xbox, and PlayStation. Along with merchandise, the store holds a collection of pay-to-play classic arcade games and a game room breathlessly referred to as the Cage. Inside the Cage, paying visitors find 42-inch HDTVs, reclining padded chairs, and PS3, XBox 360, and Wii systems, upon which they can test their skills in any game found at the store. To aid beleaguered gamers, store staffers also resurface scratched discs, mend broken consoles, and reveal which castle the princess is in.
Spread across four arts venues, the school's performance program presents finely honed productions of new and classical dramatic works and hosts internationally acclaimed musicians of all genres. Catch violinist Rachel Barton Pine with piano accompaniment at the state-of-the-art, 13,000-square-foot Wentz Concert Hall (from $40), or exchange the smiley comedy mask for a frowny tragedy one with the Greek-inspired Phedre at the artsier, black-box-style Madden Theatre ($10).
The hardest part of the process at Glazed Expressions is probably picking a piece of pottery to paint. They have hundreds of ceramics available, from mugs and platters to decorative vases and trinket boxes. Once you've selected one, you can paint it however you like with a choice of glaze colors, and, for those who don't trust their freehand painting skills, stamps and stencils. Whether attending with friends, as part of an adult or kids' party, or on your own, the staff will fire your piece for you and have it ready for pickup within one week. Beyond readying pieces, the staff can also create custom ceramics, painting gifts for weddings, baby showers, or interventions for paper plate adicts per the customers' design requests.
Mid-America Raceway's slot-car facility stocks everything from parts and paints to motors and controllers. These items include JayGee controllers, Falcon motors, Open-12 chasses, and Sonic gears that enable miniaturized drivers to shift quickly through sharp turns. Elsewhere, the shop's winding racetracks buzz with activity during races, as new and experienced racers test their skills while precise electronics track their lap times. Staff members—including the shop's track dog, Marshall—also host special events for racers of all ages.
The style-savvy staff at Gabby's Gifts curates an eclectic mix of whimsical housewares, kid-centric gifts, and bath- and body-boosting products. Infuse a bathroom with the soothing scents of Archipelago Botanicals' soy- and oat-milk lotions, soy candles, and fragrances ($7–$45), or adorn a living room with plaques by Christine Mason Miller emblazoned with inspirational quotes ($12–$30), instead of tacking up the ambiguous prophecies found in fortune cookies. Chamilia bracelets ($40–$65) and Tokyo Bay handbags ($29.95–$79.95) elegantly enrobe limbs with chic designs, whereas specialty food and drink mixes by Conifer ($5.50–$7.50) upgrade afternoon teatimes. Gabby's Gifts also supplies pintsize patrons with dress-up accouterments from Molly 'N Me ($2–$17), as well as fancy tooth-fairy pillows from Rich Frog ($6.50) to impress the tooth fairy into leaving paper money.