For decades, JCPenney Portraits has welcomed families into its friendly studios, where photographers expertly photograph subjects of any age. Digital cameras, professional lighting, and a wide selection of backgrounds all work together to ensure a polished, personalized look for every family portrait, school picture, business headshot, or baby announcement. To customize the session even more, the staff also encourages guests to incorporate items with special meaning such as a baby blanket, a family heirloom, or the wishbone from grandma's first Thanksgiving.
After the final flash, clients and a team member head to the viewing kiosk, where they can select their photos and customize them. Beyond prints, memories may also be preserved on high-resolution MyImages CDs, gallery wraps, or through JCPenney Portraits' archival program, which allows clients to store and share their portraits online.
Lisa Busch—a jeweler, beader, and crafter—often left her local bead shops unsatisfied by their paltry inventory. When most people would have accepted the status quo and started making jewelry out of upcycled banana peels, Lisa took action, opening 1 Stop Bead Shop as a haven where she and other beaders could find all of the materials they needed under one roof. She started stocking the necessities and more, including tools, books, semiprecious gems, Swarovski crystal, glass, wire, and findings. In less than seven years, her inventory grew fivefold, requiring the shop to lay down roots in a shiny new 3,200-square-foot facility.
In addition to supplying self-sufficient beaders, Lisa shares the art of crafting with newcomers through her roster of classes. A staff of 26 instructors teaches approximately 100 lessons each quarter, ranging from beading and crocheting to wire wrapping and girls’ night out parties.
At Schneider Family Dental, Dr. Matt Schneider makes use of dental technology that wasn’t available when the practice first opened its doors in 1968. In fact, much of it wasn’t available a few years ago. 3-D x-rays give dentists a full view of teeth, allowing them to observe virtually every spot of decay and any frisbees stuck on the roof of the mouth. The office's Cerec machine crafts porcelain crowns custom fitted to patients in one visit, and tooth-colored composite resins keep fillings a secret.
But the team isn’t bogged down with technology so much that they neglect the comfort of their patients. IV sedation relaxes nervous or needle-wary patients while allowing them to continue giving feedback during treatments.
The staff at New Balance isn't concerned with simply selling shoes—their mission is to pair customers with the footwear that will carry them comfortably through life’s arduous steps. Understanding that an ill-fitting pair of athletic shoes can cause pain to joints and potentially damage knees, hips, and the back, associates measure the length and width of each client's foot and conduct a gait analysis to chart the trajectory of their stride when walking normally or running through ball pits. The data are collected to help the staff match clients with their ideal shoe, keeping them running longer and looking good while doing so.
Owned and operated by experienced runners, Columbus Running Company strives to support the benefits of walking and running by providing a wide variety of gear, personalized service, and community support. The store is stocked with goods that range from the necessary basics to accessories bursting with more technology than a remote-controlled hummingbird. Slip on a pair of sleek Saucony Guide 4 ($99.99) or Brooks Adrenaline GTS ($100) foot helmets and test them out on the in-store treadmill before setting out to find the meaning of life on a literal cross-country run. The Black Diamond Cosmo headlamp illuminates nighttime runs, making joggers visible to drivers and spontaneously appearing portals to the underworld visible to joggers ($29.99). For shins and calves that are feeling down in the dumps, Zensah compression sleeves provide needed support with gradient compression and strategic ribbing that increases blood flow, making muscles feel as limber as a spider monkey sipping on a wine cooler ($39.99).
Jade Technology proffers a high-tech continuum of life-easing gadgets from baby monitors to Xbox accessories. Music lovers can treat ear buds with a 4 GB Coby MP757 portable media player ($37.95), perfectly sized for an ample audio library. Fitness fanatics can clip on the Oregon Scientific PE828 Pedometer ($25) to measure distance, heart rate, and inches of added foot muscle. The Olympus VN-6000 digital voice recorder ($35) holds more than 600 hours of school lectures, daily reminders, or notes for one’s novel, and the Transformers Autobot Laptop ($38) employs an array of educational games to metamorphose children from inanimate objects into sentient, logical beings.