Inside Briolette Beads & More, hardwood floors and walls lined with multicolored glass beads and beading supplies envelop customers perusing DIY materials or embarking on jewelry-making classes. Under the tutelage of experienced teachers, hands-on sessions abound, from metal smithing to stringing to wire working—in which students twist government surveillance materials into rings and pendants. The brightly hued party room's](http://gr.pn/w7ZafC) neon-green walls are decked in a vibrantly painted peacock and flowers, inspiring revelers as they fashion myriad beaded items, and Thursday evenings boast crafty diva night, during which participants can finish new or existing projects in the company of other crafters.
The experts at Wine Discount Center taste wine like it’s their job—because it is, actually. Every month, they taste hundreds of wines, assessing each one’s color, aroma, flavor, body, knowledge of American history, and finish in the same manner that the critics of Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate use to grade wines on their 100-point scales. This never-ending sampling and scoring lets Wine Discount Center’s team continually update and hone the selection at each location, regularly announcing new finds on the company's website and ensuring each bottle it stocks is worthy of 85 points or more. The oenophiles further enhance guests’ enjoyment of their wines by leading in-store tastings every Saturday at noon.
Deedee & Edee's private label begins at trade shows and markets, where designer Deb Dworman pores over fabrics to find the perfect one for a contemporary piece. Though her jackets, dresses, skirts, and tops skew modern, they each exude a vintage style that can flatter any female frame. In addition to its namesake label, Deedee & Edee stocks other high-end brands such as ANAC, Christopher Blue, and Lilla P.
All big movements start small, but many would be surprised to learn that Ten Thousand Villages—a nonprofit and retailer with 390 outlets nationwide—began out of a car trunk. In 1946, Edna Ruth Byler started the organization out of her car, taking a name from a quote by Mohandas Gandhi, who said, “India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages.” Her willpower and determination allowed her vision to grow into a nonprofit that today supports more than 130 artisans in 38 developing countries. These artisans' wares go on sale at the organization's nationwide retail outlets, which brim with items including jewelry, home decor, and refrigerator cozies.
Everything is made using environmentally friendly processes, and every artisan is paid a fair wage. The money raised from sales goes to supply the artisans—who might otherwise be unemployed or underemployed—with education, food, housing, and healthcare. The organization has risen to such stature that it won the People’s Choice Award for Green Business of the Year in 2005, and has acted as one of the founding members of the World Fair Trade Organization.
Back to Bed is a trusted source for sound sleep, growing from a single store in 2000 to a mattress empire with more than 45 locations across the Chicagoland area. Tempur-Pedic, Stearns & Foster, and Simmons Beautyrest mattresses await rigorous testing at each of their show rooms, where sleep-savvy employees can help shoppers determine if they're more suited to a firm or soft mattress or to creamy or chunky peanut butter. Back to Bed also induces relaxation in a nonhorizontal form with a selection of plush massage recliners and Human Touch's Perfect Chair, which cradles bodies in a muscularly neutral position.
The staff at K.S. Mathis Jewelers matches patrons with ideal adornments for weddings, engagements, or everyday glamour. The shop’s customization services allow fiancés to devise unique wedding bands based on size, weight, and diamond cut, and jewelry appraisals potentially save hobbits a treacherous voyage to Mordor. The staff tinkers with broken timepieces and completes repairs on site, checking pressure and replacing spent batteries. A slew of purchasable pendants, bracelets, and rings spruces up outfits for a night on the town or an attempt to outshine the sun.