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Given The Bead Place's packed class calendar, it's a wonder the store doesn't grant degrees. If it could, customers who attend workshops regularly could have earned PhDs by now in subjects ranging from knitting and felting to silversmithing and metalwork. The scope of these skills is too broad for only a few people to handle teaching, so fortunately, the store employs more than a dozen instructors and doesn't count on a swamp creature with a giant, pulsing brain to do all the work. These staffers are experts in their respective crafts; Kara Jacob's beading work was highlighted in a Bead and Button magazine's "best of" volume, and Abbi Berta has been published as a designer in multiple magazines.

When students need materials for one of these workshops, the obvious spot to look is The Bead Place itself. The store carries semi-precious stones, vintage glass, Swarovski Crystal, and hundreds of types of yarn. It also supplies kits, patterns, and tools such as brass wire brushes and jeweler's saws.

5200 N Illinois St.
Fairview Heights,
IL
US

In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers 4 months old?12 years old with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.

Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents magazine.

1931 W US Highway 50
Fairview Heights,
IL
US

After the local camera shop went out of business, customers contacted Ron Henges, the building's manager, about picking up their finished prints and repaired cameras. In the process of helping fill these last orders, customers recommended Ron open his own camera store to fill the need in the community. More than 30 years later, Creve Coeur Camera continues to serve and educate its customers through nine area locations, including a 12,000-square-foot flagship store. The shops supply and repair top-of-the-line cameras and photographic equipment and timely print services and teach how to craft charismatic images through a broad curriculum of classes.

2020 W Highway 50
O Fallon,
IL
US