Phantom Fireworks first burst onto the scene more than three decades ago. Today, the company lights up backyards of America from coast-to-coast with more than 1,200 permanent and temporary locations.
Much like its products, Phantom?s employees frequently take to the skies. They travel around the globe in search of the industry's latest ground and aerial displays before returning home with rockets, missiles, fountains, and aerial repeaters. From there, an extensive in-house testing program takes over, checking each item's safety before it?s sold to the public.
That testing program is just one of Phantom?s pillars of safety. The company also holds memberships with multiple pyrotechnics organizations, and it offers customers additional information about fireworks laws and history through its Fireworks University.
The horticulturalists at Foertmeyer & Sons Greenhouse Co. tap into experience accrued during more than two decades in business to equip customers with homegrown greenery and helpful gardening advice. Operated by two generations of the Foertmeyer family, the greenhouse nurtures flowering plants culled from all corners of the world. Inside, hanging baskets dip pendulously from the ceiling, spilling forth green fronds, and planters contain budding flora and hide garden gnomes prone to ruining the perspective of landscape paintings.
X-ray technicians at the local hospital shook their heads at their motionless patient—a mummified bird that had appeared in a lot of Egyptian artifacts set to go up for auction. After the techs confirmed that the bird was genuine, Richard "Jeff" and Amelia Jeffers, owners of Garth's Auctions, couldn't wait to put the important piece of ancient history in their catalog. Amelia Jeffers remembers that in fact, the bird did poorly at auction, as not many people collect mummified Egyptian wildlife. Instead, collectors flock to Garth's Auctions for vintage Americana, local folk art, Oriental rugs, and even real estate.
Since its opening in 1954, Garth's Auctions has appraised and sold thousands of collectibles at auction, but took on newfound enthusiasm and energy in 2006, when the husband-and-wife auctioneer team took it upon themselves to make auctions accessible to everyone. Amelia notes that first-timers should not be intimidated by the auction format, as the price range for items varies widely and auction catalogs list everything from fine art to firearms and novelty toys. She remembers recently auctioning off an antique novelty vampire-slaying kit complete with a wooden stake, garlic flour, and holy water. A large team of certified appraisers also leads scheduled walk-in appraisal days at museums across the country, and are available to appraise antiques in-house or in the ancient ziggurats where they are discovered.
Garth's Auctions has also worked to expand their environmentally-friendly endeavors such as printing catalogs with Forest Stewardship Council–approved recycled paper and replacing old company cars with fuel-efficient hybrids. However, the Jefferses believe that their most important green contribution is their day-to-day collecting and repurposing of antiques that reduce demand for new items.
Costume Holiday House's inventory of wigs, makeup, suits, and party supplies enables costume changes ranging from spooky to comical. Customers can dress themselves as everything from pop-culture icons to terrifying specters and macabre forms, and an ample supply of wigs and accessories form the basis of inventive costumes that don’t require full-body suits or rubber masks. In addition to wearable Halloween goods, the shop also sells fog machines and animated props that set the stage for monster mashes and haunted houses. Costume Holiday House accommodates dress-up even in the Halloween off-season, with theater costume rentals for schools and community plays, or Second Skin colored bodysuits for showing team spirit at a baseball game or camouflaging into the green-screen background at local commercial shoots.
In 1978, a modest 32’x144’ poly greenhouse began supplying a farm with tomatoes and pepper plants. More than 30 years later, the greenhouse has exploded into a 3-acre operation that supports a leafy abundance of 15,000 flowering hanging baskets, more than 100,000 potted annuals, and 25,000 potted perennials. Helmed by Don and Janice Bench and their son and daughter-in-law, the greenhouse and nursery pairs visitors with more than 200 varieties of hybrid roses, which only require 1 gallon of gas to bloom on the highway, as well as trees, shrubs, statues, and fountains.
In November and December, the garden center morphs into a winter wonderland that showcases more than 100 decorated trees and a seasonal trove of ornaments, fragrant wreaths, poinsettias, and crimson bows. During summer months, the Benches man a roadside produce stand, where they sell sweet corn, melons, beans, and squash from their 650-acre farm.
With decades of experience skimming the shores of Lake Erie, U.S. Coast Guard–licensed Captain Sib Randolph has had ample time to hone in on the best spots to nab walleye, bass, and perch. Though he relies on years of successful fishing charters to guide his routes, it doesn’t hurt that his 27-foot SportCraft fishing boat is equipped with fish-finding and navigational equipment. In addition to advice on the likelihood of a fish’s ability to grant wishes, Captain Randolph supplies fishermen with free bait and ice.