In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of “hard-to-find tools,” and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone’s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.
Louis W. Mian cloaks counters, vanities, and fireplaces in flat, shiny garments made from different types of natural stone and tile. Shoppers can visit the showroom to seek out inspiration from artful displays of stone furniture or to arm themselves with hundreds of removable sample boards to beat back the Tupperware gremlins living inside their kitchen cabinets. All staff members have experience with natural stone and can help counter coveters pick from more than 200 material options, including 1.25" thick white Carrara marble ($39/sq. ft.), 1.23" thick absolute black granite ($45/sq. ft.), and week-old pizza dough. Prices for custom jobs vary, but cutting and materials for a countertop, vanity top, or fireplace usually costs around $29 to $50 per square foot.
H. Teller Archibald opened the doors of the first Fannie May in 1920, delighting the passing palates of Chicago’s LaSalle Street with exquisite chocolates that continue to tickle taste buds today. Though nearly a century has passed, Fannie May’s alchemists still rely on the same recipes as the first store, refusing to budge on quality even when faced with shortages during war times and the never-ending Gregory Middle School food fight of 1997. Renowned for sweetness and attention to detail, the chocolatiers’ treats stand as an institution of inventive eats, from the gooey pecan and caramel of their Pixies to the sunny, toasted-coconut-encased dark chocolate of their Trinidads.
Enjoying a chilled beverage no longer means enduring a watered-down finish with Top Shelf Living's drink products. The purveyor of earthen barware, cookware, and tabletop products—including soapstone coasters and slate pizza stones—can outfit shoppers with washable drops that cool libations without melting into water. Sets of whiskey rocks keep adult beverages chilled for up to 45 minutes, and metal wine drops ensure customers can enjoy cooled glasses of pinot grigio with their meal without having to dine in their supermarket's walk-in freezer.