The geniuses of the jog at The Running Store outfit swift bipeds with an expansive inventory of running shoes, accessories, apparel, and nutrition products to help jumpstart New Year's goals. A complimentary gait analysis aids in matching netherhands with the appropriate gear by zeroing in on fitness goals and preferences for running on trails, grass, or concrete-covered treadmills and by assessing foot dimension and weight distribution. Sprinters can slip into a pair of brand-name pavement buffers, such as the Nike Air Pegasus ($90) or the Asics GT-2160 ($100). The running regime also stocks apparel and accessories, including SuperFeet orthotics ($39.95+) and the Brooks Infiniti Short III ($38), and nutrition supplements such as GU Energy ($1.35/package) to ensure the only walls runners hit are literal ones.
Before Comfort One Shoes' sole experts are allowed to fit a single shoe to a customer's foot, they must graduate from Comfort One University and undergo a mentorship process. It's only then that they can help shoppers find their desired footwear, whether it be lace-up Ziera boots, On running shoes with CloudTec technology, or Thierry Rabotin shoes, handmade without uncomfortable, rigid components. Alongside men's and women's footwear, the shop stocks an assortment of bags and accessories such as colorful iPhone cases from Triple C Designs that protect phone exteriors and conceal scratches from the last time you transformed into a werewolf.
Comfort One Shoes also seeks to better the world through creative philanthropic efforts, such as collecting 25,000 shoes for those without and offering their employees half their pay and time off to volunteer in the community. Perhaps such initiatives are part of the reason Comfort One Shoes earned the National Shoe Retailers Association’s Retailer of the Year Award in 2011.
The professional photographers at Target Portrait Studios capture paramount moments in premier lighting with high-tech digital cameras and a choice of vivid background images. After clients discuss pose preferences with their portraitist, subjects take the stage for approximately 10 minutes of flashing bulbs, bright smiles, and focused lenses. Clients are welcome to bring props and shadow puppets from home, and after choosing a background, they can further customize each image with one of the studio's props, if desired.
Golfsmith's online and in-store storerooms house an almost endless list of golf gear for men, women, and children alike. Clubs, balls, and accessories from brands such as TaylorMade, MacGregor, and Callaway give players precise control over their game, and polos and long-sleeved shirts from Nike and Snake Eyes garb players in course-appropriate attire now that tuxedo T-shirts no longer qualify. Along with the extensive collection of equipment and golf bags, Golfsmith also carries GPS systems to give players a high-tech edge and tennis gear to help them overcome the bunkers’ tricky nets.
Each of Merrifield Garden Center’s three locations overflows with thousands of plants throughout the year, encompassing such variety that a reporter for CNN’s Eatocracy claimed “I might as well endorse my paychecks straight to them…because I always want to grow what they've got.” Knowledgeable garden experts, 25 of whom have been with Merrifield for 25 years or more, guide customers through row upon row of flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants, or help them sort through an extensive selection of bulbs and seeds. Visitors may also bump into the founders themselves, or their children and other family members, 38 of whom still work at the thriving business that started 40 years ago. Merrifield doesn’t just proliferate plants, however; amenities such as cafes in Gainesville and Merrifield and a dog park in Gainesville make each garden center into a leisure destination as well. Three of its garden gurus run an hourlong TV show that's been going for more than two decades, and other staff publish gardening advice on the website and Facebook. The staff also work to protect the environment with a variety of eco-friendly initiatives. Besides stocking native plants and water-saving devices for their customers, they also compost more than 20,000 tons of soil and 25,000 cubic yards of brush left over from their comprehensive landscaping services every year. The Gainesville location also gathers old concrete, metal appliances, and rusted Optimus Primes for recycling free of charge.
Warm hardwood covers nearly every inch of Backyard Grill Restaurant’s dining room, with flat-screen televisions sparkling like glittering jewels all along the crown molding. Through these pixel-painted windows, diners glimpse sports action and beloved commercials from across the globe, taking in scored goals, touchdowns, and home runs side by side. Several times a week, arena events give way to electronic trivia nights, live music, and karaoke.
A gargantuan menu holds its own amid the onslaught of entertainment. Chefs use the whole United States and several other corners of the world as their pantry, adding Asian sweet chili or Mediterranean olives to seafood, piling North Carolina–style pork atop a barbecue sandwich, tossing andouille sausage into spicy creole jambalaya pasta, and gently waving an American flag over a bacon cheeseburger. The tot-friendly, easily scrubbed interior is capped by a kids' menu that ranges from grilled cheese to steak.