In the midst of summer in North Carolina, Christmas has already begun to blossom in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tucked between its peaks at more than 3,000 feet above flat land, there's a forest of fraser firs getting ready for their holiday post in living rooms, right after they figure out how to politely evict their squirrel tenants. The trees belong to Cedar Grove Christmas Trees, a farm where fresh, healthy trees have been the main objective for more than three decades. To that end, it also ships in plantation and wild-stand balsam firs from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Cedar Grove's tree growers only use eco-friendly, sustainable practices, such as planting cover crops in lieu of fertilizer and mowing more frequently instead of using spray herbicides. Not to mention, the tree fields are inherently helpful to the earth, since they provide habitats for critters and enough oxygen every day for 18 people, who would otherwise have to breathe water.
One of the East Coast's best-known Members-only wholesale retailers, BJ's serves more than six million Members in more than 200 clubs as far west as Ohio. Within these sprawling locations, BJ's helps provide more selections to savvy shoppers looking to knock out most of their errands in a single stop. In the same visit, Members can stock up on economy-sized groceries?including USDA choice meats, farm-fresh produce, and everyday essentials?grab name-brand electronics, and even plan a vacation through BJ's Travel. Each service makes up a single part of BJ's well-rounded retail experience, but simplifying shopping isn't BJ's only goal; in 2012 alone, the company donated more than $2.2 million to charitable organizations.
A fragrant array of bouquets that burst with purple tulips and sun-yellow daisies tugs at olfactory heartstrings, and a selection of gourmet gift baskets presents a bounty of tastefully arranged treats to distinguished taste buds. Flowers are arranged in bestselling combinations such as the Beautiful in Blue ($62.95), a mix of hydrangea, roses, white lilies and more in a cobalt blue vase. Love on the rocks is best served with a creative and contemporary design such as the Pretty Please arrangement ($44.95), a mélange of blooms in soft rose and lavender shades whose elegant pink bow provides a romantic antidote to a recently penned Dear John letter.
Painter's Supply stocks vibrant interior and exterior paints from top-industry brands alongside the tools needed to apply the new hues. Renters, homeowners, or tree-house speakeasy kingpins can complement paint schemes with implements such as tray liners ($5.13), microfiber roller covers ($3.99), paintbrushes ($20.49 for 2.5" brush), paint pails ($12.53), and paint-pail liners ($5.99). Feel free to solicit professional opinions or appraisals on a dumpster mural from each storefront's design center, which is helmed by proficient painters.
At Art on Fire, a large selection of unfired pottery awaits. Customers—either there for a party or a walk-in—can browse a variety of pieces, ranging from ornaments, to jars, to mugs, before selecting one to make their own. Then, they'll adorn the piece with myriad colors, adding life with painted hues. In addition to birthday parties and events for children, the studio also offers adult-appropriate events such as ladies' night, with catering available and a BYOB policy.
With more than 25 years of experience, Patio.com oversees a wicker- and wood-framed stockpile of rugged and refined game-room and outdoor furnishings to outfit open-air play spaces with tables, chairs, cushions, hammocks, barbecue grills, and billiard tables. Shoppers can peruse a variety of styles from teak and aluminum to adirondack, sling, strap, and nougat-centered.