In 2000, Keith Smith created a pond for his backyard. The plip-plop of the water was invigorating and his new water-gardening hobby was a pleasure, so he decided to share both with the world. Since then, his company Backyard Depot has grown from a local operation specializing in decorative water features to a full-service landscaping business capable of grooming residential and commercial yards with a wide array of services. After overhauling lawns with a full mowing and weeding, Keith’s staff can also build landscape features such as an outdoor fireplace or a tall fence to keep feral Santa Clauses from taking up residence.
For Cirrus Air Express, commuting is all the fun. That's because the company does its travelling at high speeds thousands of feet above the ground. It shares its access to the sky with the community by transporting time-critical cargo, and by providing private charter services that jet off to portions of 17 different states. Cirrus Air Express's highly qualified instructors also help aspiring pilots earn certification, teaching students inside aircraft equipped with the most modern avionics available.
The Belvidere Tea Room serves light lunch fare and pots of fine tea Tuesday–Saturday on the first floor of a 9,000-square-foot Belvidere mansion. Built in the early 1900s, the castle-like Victorian home still evokes the grandeur of its past with period furniture, pressed-tin walls, and original woodwork and trim brought from the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Complimentary tours offer guests a glimpse into the mansion's many chambers, including a grand ballroom adorned with gold chandeliers.
The tech gurus at Verizon-Shift Technologies's stores stock their interactive showrooms with the latest in communication gadgetry, including chargers, cases, basic phones, and high-tech smartphones. Quench phone batteries' thirst for metal-flavored electricity with a home or car charger ($14.99–$49.99) or swaddle a mobile in a fashionable case ($4.97–$49.99) to prevent its prom date from ditching it for a trendy abacus. Mobile broadband devices ($49.99–$99.99) make suitable vessels for navigating the various detours and student drivers populating the Information Superhighway; basic phones ($29.99–$149.99) boast impressive features, such as the 1.3 megapixel camera embedded within the LG Cosmos Touch. Customers can also use a Groupon toward omnipotent smartphones ($29.99–$299.99), including the Android-powered Droid Incredible 2 by HTC and the Android-powered Thunderbolt by HTC.
Boar’s Head meats and Amish cheeses bring deli cred to The Nut House’s pecan wood log cabin. Hot Mama’s customers customize sandwiches from a list of five meats, six cheeses, and eight spreads, with unusual options including tangerine habanero mustard and oven roasted garlic mayo. A full-sized chicken breast sandwich borrows a hot outfit from chipotle honey lime mustard before emerging on a plate beside potato salad and the dessert of the day ($7.49). Liquid lovers can elbow sandwiches out of the way for a cup of soup and half sandwich combo ($7.49), while those still full from yesterday’s full sandwich can opt for a lone half ($4.29). Hot Mama’s serves up made to order meat stacks Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The Amish Cheese House culls cheeses, meats, and more from Amish communities in the local area, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to fill mouths and appease appetites. Titillate taste buds with a collection of more than 40 cheese varieties, such as american, habanero jalapeño, southwestern salsa, lacey swiss, and extra-sharp cheddar. Peruse a display case brimming with deli meats from local sources before picking up an enticing pound of liverwurst or using a sample of cajun turkey wrapped in a layer of lebanon bologna to convince a live bear to act as a living room rug for a day. Patrons can also choose from a selection of gift boxes and a collection of miscellaneous goods, including locally made jellies, old-fashioned candies, granola, pastas, coffee, and tea. Though prices vary as much as the ingredients used to make cheese-in-a-can, cheeses start at $3 for a small slice and can range up to more than $25 for larger portions, Meats range from $7 to $20 per pound, and sugar-free chocolates start at $10.