In the late 1920s, the Great Depression was rendering most Americans professionally and financially paralyzed. But in a small California kitchen, Merle Nethercutt Norman was putting a plan in motion to formulate her own skincare products and share them with family and friends. She truly believed in her formulas, knowing that by getting them on as many faces as possible, she would develop a following of customers. She was right—within a few years she and her nephew were opening their first studio in Santa Monica, and they eventually unveiled a series of independently operated stores that enabled women to take ownership during a time of gender-based limitations such as men-only restrooms.
Today, in approximately 2,000 stores across three countries, the three basic principles of Merle's original vision still apply. Each studio is independently owned and fosters an in-depth knowledge of the company's own line of makeup and skincare products. Just as Merle shared her creations with close friends and sallow mannequins more than 80 years ago, today's aestheticians embody the business's "try before you buy" philosophy. A menu of complimentary studio services—from foundation checks to express facials—allows patrons to sample the lauded brand before committing to the purchase of products or full spa treatments.
For more than four decades, the event facilitators at Brookfield Party Rental have shouldered the burden of party planning by supplying all of the accouterments for bashes, from tents and canopies fit for weddings or cookouts to cotton-candy machines. Picnic guests can bask in the summer sun at rentable banquet tables, while kids test gravity in colorful castle or obstacle-course bounce houses. The party supplier also dishes out charcoal and propane grills, stylish bars, dance floors, and 55-inch Vizio flat-screen TVs that distract guests with sporting events and movies while hosts steal the pennies out of their loafers.
An array of bottles line shelves and tables and pack boxes, filling the Wine Cellar of Wisconsin with its namesake beverage. Frequent specials are highlighted weekly, including recommendations from the staff. Additionally, evening wine tastings encourage visitors to sample and learn about various varietals. Although the store primarily carries wine, it also stocks a number of craft beers from the likes of New Glarus Brewing, Bell's Brewing, and Ale Asylum.
Eddie Z's Blinds and Drapery dresses dapper wall-holes in a variety of shades, shutters, and other window-covering garments. During a complimentary at-home consultation, a designer will help clients select window treatments, or customers can come to a showroom to observe blinds in their natural habitat. Homeowners can opt to add an earthy accent to rooms with woven wood shades ($72+), or trap runaway air in the insulating compartments of honeycomb cellular shades ($67+). Horizontal-line haters can choose vertical blinds that come in more than 300 colors, styles, and fruit flavors ($55+).
Health Hut founder Kurt Boehm doesn't think that eating healthy should have to be so expensive—he aims for competitive pricing in his stores, where sugar- and preservative-laden junk food is replaced by healthful foods and organic produce. The stores lay claim to the most complete selection of supplements and natural foods in southeastern Wisconsin, an inventory that's rounded out by homeopathic remedies, herbal extracts, and fitness-minded foodstuffs such as protein shakes. Beyond their brick-and-mortar outposts, Health Hut is also an online database for current or curious shoppers. Their website includes online shopping, healthy recipes, and a glossary that enumerates the nutritional benefits and uses for various foods and ingredients found in the store.
Rob, Fred, and Paul are not just brothers by blood; they're also brothers in bowhunting. Together they've spent more than 50 years running West Town Archery, a pro shop and training ground for new generations of enthusiasts such as themselves. With more than a century of combined experience in the sport, the trio presides over the 10, 20 and 30-yard ranges there as well as a crossbow and tuning range, leagues, and lessons for budding archers and seasoned marksmen alike. Within these lessons they pass along the skills that earned them two national archery titles and seven state titles?and helped them take hundreds of deer. They also employ the same degree of expertise while advising customers on purchases of new bows, each of which includes professional setup, tuning, and two hours of range practice.