At Chapmans’ Frame & Gallery, archival experts wield 18 years of experience to snugly fit photos into custom frames, and an assortment of artwork and accessories awaits to adorn bare walls, alcoves, and limbs. Patrons can shorten holiday shopping lists with a variety of small gift items. Small prints or handmade earrings stuff stockings with artistic style, and easels proudly display shoppers' masterpieces or still-lifes that double as impeccably detailed grocery lists. Pulling from a large selection of customized wood and matting ($50—$200), Chapmans’ framing fanatics preserve beloved photos or precious works or art, creating custom pieces that may be as simple or as opulent as the customer deems fit. Staff border an 11"x14" print with a two-inch double mat, a black wood frame, glass, backing, and finish ($100) before returning it ready for display above a mantel or inside the refrigerator.
With iridescent miniature golf courses in malls throughout North America, Glowgolf adds elements of phosphorescent fun to shopping sessions. Courses contain sights such as light-defying blush corals, incandescent animals, and lush foliage reminiscent of the glowing trees on Neptune. Each pass is good for three 18-hole games, giving golfers ample opportunity to get familiar with each hole's obstacles. Equipment is available on the spot, so players won't have to carry around personal clubs or seek out a bioluminescent caddie.
The Exclusive Company—a Wisconsin-bred music-and-movie retailer—has given the gift of song since 1956, earning a Best of Milwaukee award from Shepherd Express readers in 2011. Passionate staffers guide visitors toward sprawling collections of rock and jazz and bins brimming with DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and loose 8mm slides from Kenny G's summer vacation. In addition to peddling new vinyl releases such as El Camino by the Black Keys and Revolver by T-Pain, the shop functions as a trading post, helping to find loving homes for preowned films and music. All used discs are carefully buffed into shape before meeting their new owners, and each comes backed by a money-back guarantee, which promises store credit if a preowned item exhibits biting tendencies. Most used CDs, DVDs, and vinyl cost less than $20.
In 1955, James and Gladys Bluemel opened a small nursery dedicated to growing trees and shrubs and to helping locals with landscaping projects. Now, their son, Mike, runs the much-expanded family business, which thrives on bulk-supply sales, playground resurfacing, lawn care, and snow and ice control during snowman uprisings. Though he’s moved away from the nursery’s original shrub and tree business, he and his green-thumbed staff still maintain a garden center stocked with seasonal plants, garden décor, and essential supplies.
While customers browse Bluemel’s aisles, they'll likely spot a commonality between the perennials, annuals, flowers, herbs, and vegetables: a sticker reading “Dome Grown.” This label marks a plant born and raised in the garden center, which accounts for about 85% of the center’s living merchandise. Having tended and nurtured the plants since their geneses, the staff—who share 35 years of experience—can dispense tips on how to properly care for them, as well as share adorable baby-plant photos.