Every year at Ann Arbor Fest, Catching Fireflies founders Steve and April paused from manning their paper-arts booth to admire the folksy paintings of local artist Chris Roberts-Antieau. When they finally saved up enough to purchase their favorite piece, “Catching Fireflies,” it led to a flash of inspiration: a shop dedicated to showcasing similarly whimsical artwork and supporting local artists.
Now, Catching Fireflies’ inventory spans the spectrum, from leather-bound journals and wall art to children’s toys, and has been lauded in Rochester-Rochester Hills Patch. Once customers have honed in on wares, staff can gift-wrap them free of charge, thereby eliminating the need to conceal them behind Groucho glasses.
English Gardens began as a single, family-owned nursery in 1954, and has since blossomed into a full-service landscaping and garden center with multiple locations, all owned and operated by second-generation family members. Each location facilitates both indoor and outdoor gardening projects. The florist department brings the outdoor flourish inside by arranging fresh-cut floral bouquets and gift baskets for all manner of occasions. Workshops and in-store presentations also allow the green-thumbed experts to impart advice on common gardening and decorating topics such as building a kitchen herb garden or housetraining a dogwood tree. During the summer season, English Gardens holds a summer planting sale as well as weekly in-store gardening tutorials every Saturday at 10 a.m.
Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
The hibernation experts at Mattress & Futon Shoppe help foster deep sleep with cushions from top brands such as Sealy, Stearns & Foster, and Corsicana. Well-versed in all forms of sleep habits, the store employees are happy to expound on the finer points of each mattress they keep in stock, which range from traditional innerspring beds to high-tech gel memory-foam mattresses. If your new mattress doesn't feel right or already has a family of monsters sleeping under it, Mattress & Futon Shoppe has a 100-day Don't Worry Sleep Happy comfort warranty, and you can return the unwanted item to one of 13 convenient locations.
With more than 3,000 products in stock and learned clerks, Organic America infuses would-be green thumbs with the supplies and skills to bolster indoor and outdoor gardens. The staff, which includes professional farmers and retired Swamp Things, educates clientele with seminars and in-store conversation. Weekly workshops detail the essential techniques necessary for successful organic or hydroponic harvests, including crop rotation and biological pest control. Behind the store's low-slung façade, verdant displays show the life cycle of healthy plants as they mature from seeds to flowers and eventually to parade floats.
Jewelry, gifts, and art spill through Lido Gallery & Gifts' 3,200-square-foot shrine to creativity. Shoppers can smile mysteriously while taking painterly bites of edible Mona Lisa chocolate bars ($28), or bring home Sigmund Freud plush dolls ($16) to provide therapy for Barbies recovering from traumatic haircuts. Patrons who opt for custom framing ( $77.36+ for an 11" x 14" frame) can tote prints, paintings, antique parking tickets, or one of Lido's hundreds of in-stock prints and posters ($15+) into a framing room decked in a cornucopia of possible mouldings. During the framing process, a specialist with decades of experience fits the image with frame mouldings, cut glass, mounting, and a mat, producing a secure and stylish hanging display.