A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
At more than 1,000 Mattress Firm locations around the country, shoppers sink into plush mattresses, recline on firm beds, and belly-flop onto pillow tops. Knowledgeable staffers can help customers create an ideal bedtime environment by dispensing advice based on sleep preferences and illuminating the difference between the many kinds of mattresses. And to the delight of their customers, much of Mattress Firm's bedding wears the label of a premium brand, such as Sealy, Serta, Simmons Beautyrest, or Stearns & Foster.
Viktor Viktoria outfits women with an eclectic stock of club wear and avant-garde garb such as leg warmers and mini dresses. Shimmy into a pair of bootie shorts ($19.99), whose silver sequins will dazzle under disco balls or traffic lights. Slightly sheer mini dresses ($17.99) leave just enough to the imagination and rhinestone anklets ($14.99) inspire fashion-forward house arrests. Shop an array of bracelets ($21.99), or for a bit of vintage flair boxy fit Rock N Roll tees ($58) pay homage to fashions past.
The Exclusive Company—a Wisconsin-bred music-and-movie retailer—has given the gift of song since 1956, earning a Best of Milwaukee award from Shepherd Express readers in 2011. Passionate staffers guide visitors toward sprawling collections of rock and jazz and bins brimming with DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and loose 8mm slides from Kenny G's summer vacation. In addition to peddling new vinyl releases such as El Camino by the Black Keys and Revolver by T-Pain, the shop functions as a trading post, helping to find loving homes for preowned films and music. All used discs are carefully buffed into shape before meeting their new owners, and each comes backed by a money-back guarantee, which promises store credit if a preowned item exhibits biting tendencies. Most used CDs, DVDs, and vinyl cost less than $20.
Downer Avenue Wine & Spirits' beverage buffs line their shelves with a legion of libations, helping customers cull the best selections for meals, gifts, and gatherings. Explore the vast selection of nearly 1,000 different wines ($4.99–$199.99)—with more than 200 bottles less than $10—in a trek more promising than an expedition for a mystical fount of gold merlot. The walk-in beer bunker boasts more than 200 frosty varieties of domestics, imports, and crafts, as well as a collection of microbrews from local hop houses, such as Sprecher and Lakefront ($4.99–$15.99/6). Sippers who enjoy their drinks on the rocks or in hollow stalactites can stock up on spirits from Downer Avenue's diverse batch of bottles, which includes Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Vodka and an assortment of single malt scotches ($22.99–$349.99).