Since 1983, families have spent their holidays around the television, watching A Christmas Story and joining in the triumphs and failures of 9-year-old Ralphie as he struggles to secure a Red Ryder BB gun from Santa's bag. Although the cult-classic film showed Ralphie living in Indiana, the house in which the movie took place rests in Cleveland?and is now a museum. When MSNBC interviewed lifelong fan and A Christmas Story House & Museum owner Brian Jones, they profiled the story of how he found the house on eBay and jumped at the chance to own it. Today, he?s turned it into a year-round place of pilgrimage for fans and the site of an occasionally-held convention for Ralphies.
Jones?s restoration has returned rooms to exactly how they were in the film, letting guests gaze at the tinsel-strewn tree with its star falling off and explore the bathroom where Ralphie?s mouth was washed out with soap?a time-tested method for cavity prevention. Visitors can even attempt to hide like little Randy in the cabinet under the sink. After seeing the backyard that still houses the original shed, where Ralphie defended his family against Black Bart, fans head across the street to the A Christmas Story House & Museum. Here, original props such as the toys from the Higbee?s department-store window, Randy?s snowsuit, and Miss Shields?s classroom chalkboard join other memorabilia and hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos. Before leaving, guests drop into the gift shop to pick up a leg lamp just like the one Ralphie's old man cherished so dearly.
Calling for the unity of the area's home brewers, The Cleveland Brew Shop maintains a complete stock of supplies to turn water and grain into foamy beer. Carboys, kettles, and buckets line the shelves, ready to be filled with fistfuls of ingredients. The shop keeps more than 40 base and specialty malts on hand and offers free milling for all purchased grains, precluding the need to reroute a river into one's personal watermill. Packaged kits provide all the ingredients necessary to craft beers in a variety of styles, and bags of hops declare their aromatic qualities. The shop also maintains supplies for making wine, and holds regular classes in the brewing process.
Banyan Tree favors browsers with a bouquet of creative items to wear and admire from peasant tops and beaded bracelets to mosaic platters and curvy candlesticks. Selective shoppers strolling through the airy shop can also explore pockets of shelved knickknacks and contemporary attire. Help extremities escape the wintry weather by burrowing them into fuzzy fingerless gloves ($24) in maroon, cream, and teal, or dig through the tower of leather rings ($12) to deck digits with chromatic petals. Guests will oh and ah when quarters are slipped into an owl money bank ($20) staring down from the mantle and when a cell phone is lifted from a charging station ($30) disguised as a patch of grass. Like the prolific Twinkie bush, Banyan Tree offers up its eclectic bounty seven days a week.
With spring spurting up from the ground like a hoard of ill-intentioned gophers and summer a menacing shadow on the horizon, numerous occasions will soon need judicious tackling. Warm weather brings with it birthdays, housewarmings, band camp, and heat exhaustion—all events best met with flowers and balloons. Choose from contemporary abstract stacks of sunflowers that terminate in a delicate lily or traditional rose- and carnation-laden arrangements. European hand-tied bouquets, ideal for over-the-shoulder tossing and subsequent ultraviolent manhandling at your next garden tea party, start at $25. Small arrangements also start at $25, while medium floral mélanges start at $40, and large blossom bursts go for $65 and up. Latex balloons are $1.99 each, whereas the shiny, decorated Mylar variety are $3.99.
The factory-trained sleep experts at Mattress Matters strive to help customers get up on the right side of the bed with a wide range of mattress brands and types. Clients count fewer sheep than ever before on a Simmons Beautyrest queen set, whose motion-separating, pocketed coil springs and highly trained shepherds fill nights with uninterrupted REM cycles ($699+). Developed by NASA, the Tempur-Pedic bed conforms to every nook and cranny of the body, supporting perfect spinal alignment and comfort ($1,199+). Media mogul Donald Trump's line of luxury slumber vehicles boasts KoolComfort memory foam and a top-layer quilt to caress bodies and minds into dreamland ($849+), and the Sealy Posturpedic's orthopedically correct support aids in creating ache-free days and z-filled nights ($579+).
Since 1988, Pet Supplies Plus has welcomed millions of furry critters of every stripe—from llamas and monkeys to potbellied pigs—into their animal-friendly stores. The shop is designed so that both pets and their owners can easily navigate the inventory of more than 10,000 items. Wide aisles give leashed pups enough room to roam, colorful signage keeps shoppers moving in the right direction, and low shelves allow dogs to sniff out their preferred brand of rawhide chew. A self-serve dog wash enables guests to scrub their canine companions' coats to a youthful, puppy-like shine, whereas grooming services enlist professionals to tackle tougher jobs, such as brushing out matted fur or convincing dalmatians to stop mixing white and black after Labor Day.