A kaleidoscope of designer fabrics in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures exists just behind Swatches' unassuming brick storefront. For more than 35 years, this locally owned and operated business has assembled a massive collection of fabrics and accessories from workrooms based in Cincinnati and around the United States. Within the showroom’s expansive interior, trims and tassels sway alongside more than 1,000 bolts of fabric from designers such as Duralee, Kravet, and Fabricut. Meanwhile, the staff of seasoned home decorators stands by to assist customers, offering them counsel on appropriate design schemes or directing them toward textiles that can withstand messes made by kids, pets, and roommates who work as part-time finger-painters.
Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
Kramer's Sew & Vac specializes in sewing machines and vacuum cleaners, and it's been vending these wares since 1947. Bring in a faulty machine for a quick fix, or peruse a selection of new sewing machines from Bernina and vacuums from Miele. Kramer's also meets the needs of the sewing community with regular classes, which teach quilting and embroidery skills via traditional methods and on the computer.
On the shelves and display racks at Tala's, handbags from Brazil stand a few feet from mandala earrings and ornate hookahs. Around the shop, curated selections of handmade products stand ready to be inspected and taken home. Tala's also follows fair-trade practices, aiming to benefit the far-flung makers of its clothing and accessories.
A Shade Better's show room glows from wall to wall with lamps and decorative illuminative accouterments. Keep Edison's ever-burning flame radiating beneath a large collection of lampshades ($14+), which distribute light evenly and serve as dunce caps for undisciplined candles. A range of lamps ($54+) mounted beneath bulbs promises to inflame the darkest of corridors, igniting a blaze of light from an array of Asian-inspired designs and animal-themed styles. Show your lamp and gifted child that you love them by crowning them with a decorative finial ($4.99+), from traditional adornments to dragon-shaped designs.
Park + Vine's whole-home approach to green living has attracted media attention and a devoted fan base in its three years of eco-friendly business. The products run the entire gamut of green needs, allowing shoppers to minimize their resource consumption in every nook and cranny of life, from transportation accoutrements to food containment and baby human coverings. Clean up your act with Eco Nuts organic laundry detergent ($12) or beat it into submission with a Whistle Creek walking stick ($16). After asserting your dominance, show your support for the greening of the neighborhood with a Park + Vine windmill tee ($20) and an issue of Being Green in Cincinnati ($5). Keep an eye out for recent additions to the store’s expanding selections, such as its foodstuffs and fine beverages.