In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of “hard-to-find tools,” and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone’s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.
Fast Frame originated in Europe and now has more than 300 locations worldwide. With the understanding that people are prone to changing their minds, the teams at these 300 Fast Frame stores back up all their custom-framing projects with a 30-day design guarantee, giving patrons a month to decide if they want to swap their memorabilia for one of more than 2,000 other frame styles, paying the price difference if applicable. For each project, a team with more than 60 years of combined experience performs the work onsite, generally completing designs in less than a week and sometimes on the same day. In addition to photos and diplomas, customers can commission shadowboxes or framing of bulkier items, such as jerseys or baby’s first rap sheet. For all finished projects, Fast Frame secures its craftsmanship with a lifetime warranty.
The Tinker's Cart fills homes with Irish gifts and special-occasion accessories sourced directly from the Emerald Isle. Official Irish dirt ($9.95) from the ground of County Tipperary helps local green thumbs nourish plants, grow shamrocks from official Irish shamrock seeds ($2.95), or cultivate the ball skills of a sprouting Boston Celtic. Irish license plates ($24.95) make roadsides appear greener, and popular Inis cologne spruces the auras of both men and women. While an Irish Claddagh wedding-cake topper ($23.95) celebrates true love, Red Socks and Patriots paraphernalia celebrates a birthright. The Irish gift store also offers caps and hats ($11.95+), jewelry such as pendants, rings, and bracelets, and hosts an in-house embroidery business where apparel can get custom stitches in Irish logos and designs.
Youngsters master karate chops, take on fencing opponents, and perfect balletic pli?s under the same roof at New England Sports Academy. As you walk through the facility, you might hear the sounds of guitars as kids learn to strum chords. And of course, the academy also offers competitive team sports?from basketball and soccer to cheerleading.
Through every program, the upbeat instructors foster a fun and supportive atmosphere in which students learn to cooperate with their peers and challenge themselves, whether it's in a class or during a summer camp session. Parents and guardians can also rent out the space to celebrate a child's birthday or recent ascension to the royal throne.
Experienced framers Barry Stahl and Bob Clayton built Big Picture Framing from scratch in 2000, holding meetings around an old card table as construction roared around them. Today, framers at 15 area locations craft custom frames to display artwork, photographs, and record sleeves, and shadow boxes protect three-dimensional items such as ballet slippers, macaroni art, or a swarm of wasps. Patrons can dictate all design choices, choosing from metal and wooden frames in a multitude of colors and styles, or ask for recommendations from one of Big Picture Framing's resident experts. Big Picture Framing also stocks pre-framed art, prints, and posters to spruce up bare-walled homes or a drab doghouse.