For more than a century, Ring's End has put quality home improvement products in the hands of homeowners and contractors. A Stanley FatMax level ($30.99) ensures all paintings and ouija boards are hung correctly, and a gallon of Benjamin Moore Regal Classic paint ($40.19) creates a vibrant new hue on staid interior walls. Fiberon composite decking ($2.95+/ft.) helps to craft sturdy, colorful backyard-grilling platforms and arrives backed by a 20-year limited warranty. Handymen and women can keep tools easily accessible, organized, and ready to travel with a Veto Pro Pac tool bag ($144.99), which holds more than 100 hand tools and includes six zippered pockets to hide worksite snacks from Bob Vila.
One of the East Coast's best-known Members-only wholesale retailers, BJ's serves more than six million Members in more than 200 Clubs as far west as Ohio. Within these sprawling locations, BJ's helps provide more selections to savvy shoppers looking to knock out most of their errands in a single stop. In the same visit, Members can stock up on economy-sized groceries?including USDA choice meats, farm-fresh produce, and everyday essentials?grab name-brand electronics, and even plan a vacation through BJ's Travel. Each service makes up a single part of BJ's well-rounded retail experience, but simplifying shopping isn't BJ's only goal; in 2012 alone, the company donated more than $2.2 million to charitable organizations.
Framed, which was named runner-up for Best Frame Shop in 2010 by readers of the New Haven Advocate, uses careful custom-framing techniques to produce well-balanced rectangles for all occasions. Overseen by 15-year framing veterans Liz Hellwig and Rocco Compitello, the staff at Framed meets with prospective project doers, ironing out the two-dimensional details for projects large and small. These canvas wranglers practice conservation framing, a technique that keeps pieces true to their original condition through the use of specialized glass and acid-free mat boards. Likewise, to ensure quality and a pleasant lack of presidential apparitions, all custom projects are constructed on-site, in the store's comprehensive workshop. Though framing rates vary from project to project, an average 18"x24" piece—including black wood frame, standard glass, and dry mounting—starts at approximately $66.
For more than 40 years, the culinary experts at Kitchen Gadgets and Beyond have supplied supermarkets and restaurants with gourmet-quality ingredients, cookware, and equipment. They've even designed supermarkets and commercial kitchens. Eventually, members of the public took notice and, spatulas raised threateningly above their heads, demanded access to the 10,000-square-foot show rooms.
Today, both professionals and avid home chefs browse the emporium, daydreams of pasta and baked goods dancing in their heads as they meander through rows of cutlery, bakeware, and small kitchen appliances.
Coastal Sewing Machines set sail nearly two decades ago, hopping between various locations on the Connecticut coast as it lured schools of quilters and seamstresses. Within the shop, needle aficionados guide guests through an inventory of cloth that stretches more than 10,000 yards, providing options for any project and the means of making a football stadium a nice dress shirt. Their selection of high-end sewing machines, embroidery machines, and sergers from Viking, Pfaff, and Baby Lock grants supreme stitching power to complement their supply of notions and bring customer creations to life. Coastal's textile techs also expand the sewing community through an ever-changing schedule of classes. Students can learn basics while making useful items such as luggage tags embroidered with their name. The shop also slings classes on more advanced topics, from designing tote bags to operating a serger.
The careful collectors at Haddam Family Consignments cull gems of gently used upscale apparel, vintage and modern jewelry, and furniture to resell in their cozy shop. Items rotate regularly, but recent collections have included a Ralph Lauren blouse ($13.75) and a J. Crew sweater ($9.75) to keep appendages warm more fashionably than a sleeve made of insulation foam. Juicy Couture faux-fur hoodies ($69.95) and sleek Unik black leather motorcycle jackets ($55) for men and women preserve torsos against whipping winter winds and cool spring breezes. The store also houses a vast selection of goods, ranging from handbags and home décor to children's toys, books, and DVDs, for a collection of items more diverse than the participants at a snowflake convention.