Radio-controlled cars speed along the dirt path of twin, 20,000-square-foot off-road racetracks at RC Hobby Shop, spurred on by shouts of encouragement and furiously twisting thumbs. Too colossal to fit inside the building, the tracks embody RC Hobby Shop’s serious approach to having fun. Inside the 9,400-square-foot retail space, stacks of toys line the aisles and beckon kids and hobbyists with battery-operated modern gadgets and timeless classics such as yo-yos and board games. Model makers of every age can stoke their creative sparks with detailed modeling kits that reconstruct classic cars, elaborate train sets, and Lilliputian crime scenes.
With its circle of cushy chairs and iron-wrought footstools, the sewing area at Sugar Land Yarn Company bears a striking resemblance to a pastoral living room, where yarns of all colors fill a bowl resting on the coffee table and cubbyholes lined along the walls. Shawls and scarves hang in display to inspire future knitting projects, and a library of patterns and manuals demonstrates various techniques, such as stringing together a baby sweater without bursting into tears of joy. The shop’s wool-wizards lead classes in a wide variety of topics, allowing beginners and experienced knitters to socialize as they create wearable and decorative soft goods.
An online supershop of readables, BlueDolphin.com offers more than 1,000 magazine titles spanning nearly every imaginable genre. The site's mags are supplied by publishers at already discounted prices, allowing readers to get their literary fill without hocking their grandmothers' priceless porcelain flyswatters. Browse through the selection of titles available for $20 or less to find a year's worth of affordable reading, or choose your favorite category—from news and sports to computing, cooking, and gambling—to line up a suitable bedtime companion, such as Good Housekeeping, Rolling Stone, or The Beer Connoisseur. To help ensure word diets stay balanced, BlueDolphin.com also streamlines the subscription experience with MagTracker, a free online service that makes keeping tabs on your mags easier than bilking an aging schnauzer out of his 401(k).
Credit Carrie Bradshaw for popularizing the name necklace on Sex and the City and NameJewelrySpot for helping make it more accessible. Aside from being one of the website's most popular pieces, NameJewelrySpot's name necklace also complements a selection of monogrammed pendants, bracelets, and rings. As for the most important quality, however?the type of metal that is boiled in a pot to make the piece in the first place?most of the personalized pieces are available in sterling silver, gold-plated sterling silver, or solid gold.
PackagefromSanta.com brings the North Pole into the modern age. Using the website, parents can ensure their children get personalized letters, certificates congratulating them for making the Nice List, or even a video greeting from Kris Kringle himself. The customized care packages also include special extras, such as a swatch of Santa's red?suit and a sugar cookie from Mrs. Claus' kitchen, among others. Unlike a pen pal who? can't figure out email, Santa doesn't communicate entirely through the mail. He can also make phone calls and create personalized videos for boys and girls.
Q&A with Victoria Treadway, Owner of The Music Connection of Pearland
Tell us about your business.
We are a family-owned-and-operated music studio. We teach all styles of music, from jazz and blues to pop and classical. We teach individual lessons and group classes, primarily in piano, for ages 2 to adult. Piano is the most sought-after instrument we offer, [but] we also teach drums and guitar.
What makes your business stand out?
[First of all,] we are the only music studio in Pearland to offer group classes. They are more affordable, more fun because of the setting, and create a more independent student. We have our own curriculum, so we are able to give songs that are more well known and fun. [Second of all,] we are the only music studio in Pearland to offer Mommy and Me and preschool piano classes. Our program focuses on the piano and teaches theory through characters and different activities. Once the students have completed the different levels, they'll know the notes on the keyboard [and be able to] identify the dynamics of music, find the rhythm and recognize note values, and play beginner songs.
What inspired you to run this business?
This business has been in the family for 15 years. Once I [the daughter] got involved when I was going through college, I saw the potential to move from a business operating from home to a music studio. The reason we started the classes was for the student that wasn't self-motivated. Some students need a more fun environment than one-on-one lessons. I also strongly believe in starting your children in music lessons as early as you can to help children with their fine-motor skills, developing perfect pitch, and loads of other skills.
What is your most popular offering?
Group piano classes—once a week for 45 minutes—[and] individual piano [lessons, held] once a week for 30 minutes. [We also offer] preschool piano classes [and] Mommy and Me piano classes, [both held] once a week for 35 minutes.
What is the best reaction you’ve ever gotten from a customer?
One of our students [was] in shock over the amazing progress her son had made over the course of a year. He started as a beginner, and the next year he was playing songs like Solfeggietto and Moonlight Sonata. She recommended so many students to us. We called her our biggest fan.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
Watching the students' progress and teaching them different styles of music. It's rewarding to see our students develop a love for music.
Anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
We care about each and every student that comes through our door. We never give up on someone who takes a little longer than average to develop their musical skills.