Each of Merrifield Garden Center’s three locations overflows with thousands of plants throughout the year, encompassing such variety that a reporter for CNN’s Eatocracy claimed “I might as well endorse my paychecks straight to them…because I always want to grow what they've got.” Knowledgeable garden experts, 25 of whom have been with Merrifield for 25 years or more, guide customers through row upon row of flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants, or help them sort through an extensive selection of bulbs and seeds. Visitors may also bump into the founders themselves, or their children and other family members, 38 of whom still work at the thriving business that started 40 years ago. Merrifield doesn’t just proliferate plants, however; amenities such as cafes in Gainesville and Merrifield and a dog park in Gainesville make each garden center into a leisure destination as well. Three of its garden gurus run an hourlong TV show that's been going for more than two decades, and other staff publish gardening advice on the website and Facebook. The staff also work to protect the environment with a variety of eco-friendly initiatives. Besides stocking native plants and water-saving devices for their customers, they also compost more than 20,000 tons of soil and 25,000 cubic yards of brush left over from their comprehensive landscaping services every year. The Gainesville location also gathers old concrete, metal appliances, and rusted Optimus Primes for recycling free of charge.
Before Comfort One Shoes' sole experts are allowed to fit a single shoe to a customer's foot, they must graduate from Comfort One University and undergo a mentorship process. It's only then that they can help shoppers find their desired footwear, whether it be lace-up Ziera boots, On running shoes with CloudTec technology, or Thierry Rabotin shoes, handmade without uncomfortable, rigid components. Alongside men's and women's footwear, the shop stocks an assortment of bags and accessories such as colorful iPhone cases from Triple C Designs that protect phone exteriors and conceal scratches from the last time you transformed into a werewolf.
Comfort One Shoes also seeks to better the world through creative philanthropic efforts, such as collecting 25,000 shoes for those without and offering their employees half their pay and time off to volunteer in the community. Perhaps such initiatives are part of the reason Comfort One Shoes earned the National Shoe Retailers Association’s Retailer of the Year Award in 2011.
When Randy McCoy's father-in-law started his hydroseeding business in 1968, he likely didn't imagine the sprawling outdoors empire it is today. With help from his wife, Wanda, their children, and a team of staffers in colorful, logo-emblazoned shirts, McCoy keeps Garden World of Virginia's small stone house and sunny greenhouse brimming with more than a thousand plants, such as begonias, impatiens, and tropicals. Paths meander throughout the 2-acre facility, past garden accessories such as birdhouses, paver stones, and patio furniture, as well as artfully arranged vignettes that pair plants with their ideal pots. Garden World's expert landscapers also travel to unruly lawns, taming them with retaining walls, mulches, and topsoils to seat shrubs, trees, and wanderlust-stricken gnomes.
An authorized AT&T retailer, AT&T Portables sets itself apart from the crowd with customer-service-oriented staffers who guide shoppers through the process of picking phones and accessories from an extensive inventory. Each employee is well versed in the bells and whistles of the latest smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Blackberry, and Nokia, helping shoppers translate tech specs into real-world pros and cons. Customers’ chosen phones are accompanied by a range of protective and stylish accessories, as well as cellular plans that provide an appropriate amount of minutes, text messages, and bandwidth for sending and receiving urgent cat videos.
What began in 1984 as a home business with a single phone has grown into a go-to source for women's apparel with retail stores across the country. Headquartered in Sandpoint, Idaho, Coldwater Creek curates a varied selection of elegant but comfortable clothing, ensuring closets stay stocked with more than just the relatives who only get pulled out around the holidays. You'll find everything from sweaters and jackets to jeans and dresses, as well as jewelry, handbags, and other extras for accessorizing new outfits. And if you can't make it to one of Coldwater Creek's physical locations, just head to the website to find the perfect cardigan, cashmere sweater, or pencil skirt.
For 50 years, the owners and staffers of Plaza Artist Materials & Picture Framing have encouraged the artists of their community. They visit local fairs and set up booths for kids to color and craft, and they workshops, demos, and classes for artists of every age. As their name implies, they also outfit art makers of all skill levels with top-of-the-line materials, such as Gamblin oil paints, Prismacolor pens and markers, and custom frames perfect for saving a favorite art pieces or memorializing a sibling's failure to color within the lines.