Sisters Mary Shappee and Gert Shuckhart have been taming horses for most of their lives, beginning as children in 4-H club. While Gert manages Majic Stables' office and rare bookmark collection, Mary's passion for riding keeps her in the saddle, where she teaches private and group lessons that rein in riders as young as 5 years old. A 70'x198' indoor arena allows for nighttime and fair-weather rides, and the 100'x200' outdoor area is dotted with jumps and dressage letters for tricky choreography.
Packed to the rafters with a variety of needles, pattern books, and standard and specialty yarns, L & B Yarn Co. outfits all manner of crocheting or purling endeavors. Sort through the substantial stock of skeins, hanks, and balls sorted by color and displayed in a spectrum of plush, creative potential to find a specimen to bat around in feline-channeling glee ($3.50–$62 per ball). Patterns ($3.50+) help needle-clickers master tricky techniques, and they guide thread-wielders through the 11 steps necessary to craft a formal cable-knit unitard. Tame unruly threads into purring stitch lines with an assortment of needles that give hands the agility of a professional soap juggler ($8–$15). Today’s Groupon can also be used toward the cost of a fun and friendly class ($21 for beginner level), helmed by instructors so skilled that they can craft circle washcloths while other people sleep.
At TG Farms Pumpkin Patch, autumn’s shifting breezes not only herald a fresh crop of gourds, but also the start of the farm’s annual festivities. From morning until nightfall, families traipse through the patch in search of a pumpkin that will transform into their dream jack-o’-lantern or a car for their children to take to college, and navigate the twists and turns of a massive corn maze. On a calm pond, ducks await generous handfuls of feed, and a petting zoo lets wee ones commune with calves and goats. Back under a roof, the gift shop hosts decorative gourds, straw bales, and other fall decor.
Although autumn is the season when activity reaches a fever pitch, TG Farms is open to outdoor enthusiasts year-round. In spring, visitors learn how crops grow in the fields and flowers bloom in greenhouses. When the sun strengthens into summer, farmers peddle homegrown tomatoes and juicy watermelon. And in winter, when the last leaves have frozen over, families can pick out a fresh-cut Christmas tree or collect a jar of fresh snowman tears.
Terminix lives out its motto, “power over pests,” by providing extermination services for termites, bedbugs, and other common household insects, backed by a comprehensive money-back guarantee. In an initial inspection appointment, certified inspectors scan quarters for warning signs, such as termite-style wood damage and empty black-widow terrariums. Terminix’s primary strategy, viable for most pests, pivots on a liquid defense system applied to the soil that surrounds homes. The liquid coats passing arthropods in pesticide, which they then transmit to their peers. Baited traps supplement the liquid system, luring in bugs from strategic positions near food-filled locales, such as refrigerators and beanbag chairs stuffed with baked beans. Bug banishers can also spray bedbug-infested rooms with Rapid Freeze carbon dioxide, which ices both the bugs and their eggs.
Batteries Plus, No. 19 on the Dun & Bradstreet AllBusiness AllStar Franchise rankings, connects to a network of 515 stores in order to stock more than 40,000 types of batteries and light bulbs and ensure that customers can special order obscure parts. Their batteries range from dainty watch batteries to 5,000-pound leviathans that can power forklifts, and an on-site tech center can design and assemble custom batteries or rebuild old ones. A diverse array of chargers keep systems juiced, and the shop’s bulbs range from fluorescent tubes to heat lamps. To safeguard the environment, Batteries Plus's staff recycles all types of batteries and bulbs rather than hauling them to landfills or feeding them to each other.