The quadrilateral connoisseurs at the frugal framer perform all production in-house to ensure that posters, memorabilia, and artwork are encased in the finest shells. The skilled craftspeople specialize in custom framing, a process in which they design, size, and construct picture cocoons based on the dimensions, characteristics, and food allergies of the artwork. Customers have their choice of frames ($5+/ft.), mats, glazing, and moulding material. Box experts can forge a standard 8”x10” frame with matting for laundry folding certificates ($40 on average), or construct a 16”x20” edifice with a wooden frame, mat, backing, and regular glazing for prized post-it note ideas ($80 average). The frugal framer will also equip a 26”x34” piece of art, raised and floated on a rag mat with spacers ($300 average), or enshrine pieces in specialty casings such as shadow boxes with UV-blocking glass.
Her name is Lisa Ryan, but everyone calls her Matty––an appropriate nickname considering she's the all-knowing force behind Matty's Mattress Warehouse. "I'm it!" she says with a proud laugh. "I move every one of the mattresses, talk to every person about their needs. Just me and a guy with a truck." She's a big fan of the more intimate service she can provide in her own store, especially after having managed huge retail chains. "I used to do furniture––always problems. Here, it's low overhead. Low hassle." And for Matty's customers, that also means lower cost. About 60% of Matty's business comes from referrals, so there's clearly something enchanting about her process. When asked what brings people in the doors—whether it's word of mouth or high-powered magnets—her response is quick. "What's not to love? You come in, get a new bed, you go home, and you sleep well." Her warehouse boasts a wide selection of mattresses ranging from Easy Sleep pillow-tops to orthopedic styles from Spring Air, but the pride of her showroom is the popular Bed Boss brand. These mattresses are forged from elastic memory foam that's infused with heat-dissipating, sustainable bamboo fibers, and they cost about one-third as much as similar mattresses from competing brands. Though Matty loves helping clients find a perfect mattress, the moments she cherishes the most are those when her mattresses become a game changer, when they really make a difference in a customer's life. "There was a guy who had back surgery," she explains. "He hadn't slept well in 18 months––been to the doc for insomnia. Sold him a mattress and he came back a week later. He was elated. It was really validating."
Father-and-son team Robert and Fred Lee worked as homebuilders for years before going into business selling lights in 1965, so they knew how quickly something impressive could rise from a humble foundation. Sure enough, Lee Lighting, their small family company, grew to include a vast online retail shop and one of the largest lighting dealers in Texas. They've even purchased Savoy, a company that designs fixtures to bring cheer to dining rooms and make rooms full of ventriloquist dummies less terrifying.
Lee Lighting stocks shelves with a diverse selection of indoor lamps from brands including ELK Lighting, Quoizel, and Hudson Valley. Staffers certified by the American Lighting Association move beneath the dazzling crystal sprays and faux candles of chandeliers. They suggest outdoor lighting to transform backyards into regal terraces. They also stay abreast of lighting trends to help patrons select lights that will stay in style.
At ClayEscape, hundreds of blank clay pieces line the walls, waiting for a new life in someone?s garden, kitchen, or dining room. Instructors help visitors pick the piece that best suits their artistic intention, and then painters go to work selecting from more than 90 paint colors and 68 specialty glazes with which to decorate their pottery. Stencils, stamps, and sponges help fuel the artistic process. One week later, pieces emerge shiny and brilliant, ready to take home. ClayEscape also hosts private parties for events such as birthdays, bridal showers, Girl Scouts, and lady's nights, and it also holds special events for holidays such as Mother's Day. Summer camps are also available.
An affordable and monumental selection of sofas, beds, desks, and sarcophagi mingle good-naturedly in Ashley Furniture’s wondrous warehouse. Sydney accent chairs ($199.99) command shoppers’ attention with woody legwork, while minimalistic Cubit ottoman sets ($99.99) do captivating belly dances to bedazzle bored sultans. Matrix accent chairs ($219.99), couches, and barstools anticipate increasing the comfort of various human inactivities.
Mattress Source's knowledgeable staff pairs customers with one of a wide selection of firm and flexible beds that augment deeper slumbers. Sealy luxury firm mattresses ($449.99+) allays stressful nights by supplying supple support, manufacturers' warranties, and a cache of warm kittens to rest at the end of each bed. Silk woven jersey knit surrounds a layer of memory foam on the Stearns & Foster x-firm mattress, which gently pillows joint pain and absorbs excess body heat ($1,219.99+). At 26 Charlotte-area showrooms, shoppers can take inventory of each mattress' aptitude in hypnosis or chat with affable staff members about desired levels of firmness.