Crash Candles lights up lives with candles made with long-lasting natural soy wax and pure cotton wicks, each of which arrives with a durable glass candleholder and matching scent designed by emerging artists. Vibrant geometric patterns by Angela Adams adorn candles such as Sea Fantasy ($24), surrounded by blue-hued bubbles and wave-like swirls and imbued with the calming scent of sea grass to invoke a beachside memory or night spent sleeping in a patch of sea grass. A Scandinavian flair infuses candles by Lotta Jansdotter, who creates such whimsical designs as the fruit-fragranced Kvitt candle ($24), and creations by the Binth group, such as the black-and-white fig-scented Wanted ($24) candle, add a down-to-earth edge to homes. Candle kindlers can also opt for wax in a classic metal tin, topped with a botanically bedecked lid by Susan MacConnell, or flambeaus with invigorating grapefruit and persimmon ($14) or soothing lilac and lavender ($14) fragrances. Candle forgers hand-pour each candle in Illinois, and every style is available sans fragrance by request for those with sensitive noses or overly sensitive lavender gardens.
Day in and day out, Metra’s northwest train pulls into the Des Plaines stop, just opposite of Pop O Licious Popcorn. A brick building on the corner, the shop brandishes a bright blue and yellow sign with promises of fresh-made, gourmet popcorn. The family of popcorn pioneers creates more than 60 varieties of classic and flavored kernels each and every day, from staples such as butter, kettle corn, and caramel corn to innovative flavors including creamy dill, hot cinnamon, and even fruity tutty. For casual snacking, the shop owners can scoop the fresh-popped kernels into bags that come in four sizes, while gift-givers and musicians in need of a new drum can order their snack in a decorative tub. Beyond popcorn, Pop O Licious purveys Maurice Lenell cookies and handmade milk chocolates.
With more than 175 locations nationwide and more than 35 years in the business, Car-X Auto Service has earned a prime spot in the parking garage of quality car care and customer service. Started in 1971 by a team of seasoned muffler-shop owners, the service centers have blossomed from their beginnings as specialty exhaust shops to providers of nearly any repair or maintenance service imaginable, from installing performance-enhancing accessories to treating cars to therapeutic trust falls. In addition to promoting safety and long, healthy engine life with brake services and speedy oil changes, Car-X Auto Service reaches out to the surrounding community with regular philanthropic activities, such as recycling drives and participation in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.
Regardless of which of the hundreds of Target Portrait Studio locations you meander into, you can always count on a similar experience. Tucked into Target retail locations throughout the nation, each studio boasts a staff of professional photographers, premium lighting equipment, and advanced digital cameras. The seasoned crew takes pains to customize photo sessions to suit each customer's vision, setting up desired backgrounds and props before guiding families and high-school seniors through a mélange of poses. Afterward, customers will work with a professional to personalize their portraits with different special effects and styles, such as black and white or sepia tone. They then pick up their physical portraits at the studio in 7–10 days. If they don't feel like holding their breath that long to see the final products, they can access the images in an online gallery within 24 hours of the session, at which point they can order extra prints for gifts, collages, and greeting cards.
Helping customers improve their vision is the main concern of the optometrists and eye-care professionals at Eye Boutique, who provide preventive screenings and help choosing from their more than 1,800 frames at each location. In each shop, licensed doctors of optometry scan eyes with comprehensive exams before diagnosing issues or prescribing high-definition Zeiss lenses and contact lenses from Optix and Acuvue. Designer frames from Guess, Nike, and Kenneth Cole house lenses fashionably, and Teflon protective layers help guard lenses from scratches and reduce glare. Sunglasses from brands such as Ray-Ban and Coach also protect eyes from harmful UV rays, creating an accessory that is both stylish and useful, like a diamond with a job.