In the late 1920s, the Great Depression was rendering most Americans professionally and financially paralyzed. But in a small California kitchen, Merle Norman was putting a plan in motion to formulate her own skincare products and share them with family and friends. She truly believed in her formulas, knowing that by getting them on as many faces as possible, she would develop a following of customers. She was right—within a few years she and her nephew were opening their first studio in Santa Monica, and they eventually unveiled a series of independently operated stores that enabled women to take ownership during a time of gender-based limitations such as men-only restrooms.
Today, in approximately 2,000 stores across three countries, the three basic principles of Merle's original vision still apply. Each studio is independently owned and fosters an in-depth knowledge of the company's own line of makeup and skincare products. Just as Merle shared her creations with close friends and sallow mannequins more than 80 years ago, today's aestheticians embody the business's "try before you buy" philosophy. A menu of complimentary studio services—from foundation checks to express facials—allows patrons to sample the lauded brand before committing to the purchase of products or full spa treatments.
Buckeye Kettlebells’ owner and chief trainer, Dave Clancy, believes that training is about pushing his clients past their perceived physical limits, showing them what they're truly capable of. He shares that spirit with a crew of 10 Russian Kettlebell Challenge certified trainers, one of the largest such teams in the country. They lead their charges in a host of kettlebell classes, in which they heave the spherical burdens toward total-body fitness in addition to facing off against their body weight in exercises including pull-ups, push-ups, and squats. Clancy is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist, who uses that knowledge to motivate clients to build muscle, flexibility, and range of motion.
In another sense, however, Clancy teaches the power of believing in yourself. He inspires patrons to tap into hidden stores of self-confidence to overcome physical and accompanying mental challenges—a skill that is useful in all of life's arenas, especially the local coliseum.
Craig and Laura Decker seem to have a difficult time making up their minds. They also seem to have a knack for turning this indecisiveness into an advantage at every turn. When it came to opening their new business, for example, they briefly wondered whether it should feature a wine shop, a wine bar, or a gourmet bistro. Their solution? All three.
This spirit of inclusivity pervades The Wine Guy Bistro, where the Deckers pair seasonal wine varietals with globally inspired cuisine. Rather than choose between European elegance and New-American pizzazz, they settled on a compromise they describe as “Old World chic.” This label suits a menu that features small plates of housemade meatballs and bruschetta alongside assorted cheeses from around the world. The focus on small plates is in keeping with the Deckers’ have-it-all mentality and gives diners the option to sample several dishes without having to barter with adjacent tables.
Located about 25 miles from Columbus, Rock Dove Farm harvests 80 varieties of vegetables and herbs during the growing season, stuffing weekly baskets full of chemical-free produce that's generally plucked within 24 hours of delivery. The full-size produce sampler staves off hunger pangs with a week’s worth of vitamin-packed nourishment that can feed two to four omnivores for seven meals or one malevolent vegetable monster during one night of fiber-heavy terror. Basket assortments vary by the time of year; shoppers this week are privy to a selection that includes leafy arugula, bunch turnips, cauliflower, braising mustard greens, baby leeks, peas, spring radishes, and broccoli.
The knowledgeable staff members at AimHi, many of whom shoot hundreds of different firearms each year, call upon their expertise to recommend various guns to customers. The instructors, meanwhile, provide a safe shooting environment while teaching classes focused on subjects from basic handguns to firing an AR-15.
At GnG Music Instruction, accomplished instructors introduce fertile young minds to euphonious basics in one-hour classes once a week. Aspiring rock stars aged 8–11 who already possess Eddie Van Halen's skill at signing autographs can also acquire his shredding ability during guitar classes. Piano lessons build a sense of camaraderie between fellow ivory ticklers, and the booming percussion curriculum creates child-size drummers capable of keeping solid 4/4 beats. These three classes welcome beginners aged 8–11 as well as those 12 and older.