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, organics and naturals, 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 2013 alone, the company donated more than $4 million to charitable organizations.
Navroze S. Mehta and his daughter, Sonali Mehta Rao—the co-founders of MyMela—named their online marketplace after the festive gathering of sellers and buyers common to an Indian town square. Though they envisioned the store as a means by which to empower India’s artisans and forge meaningful connections among people separated by geographies, Navroze recently told Forbes that their inspirations were also personal. “Growing up in India, I was surrounded by the beauty of handcrafted products for both decorative and everyday use,” he says, and Sonali’s internship experiences in India showed her how desperate the makers of those beautiful products had become. Through MyMela, they work together to build a bridge between India’s master craftsmen and America’s customers—one that harnesses the power of a global economy to benefit both sides.
When they purchase their one-of-a-kind necklaces, picture frames, rugs, and other artisanal items, customers can also choose to help fund MyMela loans, a program that supplies interest-free loans to artists who then use the capital to continue their work and increase their quality of life.
In Great Balls of Yarn's four boutiques, knitters and crocheters of all experience levels browse more than 20,000 balls of yarn, including luxurious fibers from Trendsetter and Noro as well as hand-dyes from Prism and Malabrigo. Talented fiber artists guide knitters and crocheters as they transform vibrant fibers into wearable works of art during beginner through advanced classes. Project-specific sessions focus on creating table runners, borders for blankets, and baby booties to keep wee ones' feet warm and steps soundless during midnight refrigerator raids. Amid the shops' soft lighting, tapestries intermix with shelves of color-coded worsted and washable yarns alongside cashmeres and silks. Great Balls of Yarn also arms textile technicians with needles, notions, and books full of inspiration and yarn-charming incantations.
Big Wave Dave Surf Co.'s staff of experienced wave riders hits the shores of Waikiki Beach for private and small-group lessons in surfing, standup paddleboarding, and outrigger canoeing. Each instructor's résumé boasts at least 10 years of teaching experience, an extensive knowledge of first aid, and at least one semester as Poseidon's college intern. During classes, first-time surfers learn the basics on land before heading into the warm waters to hang their first 10, whereas advanced riders barrel out into the waves atop fiberglass and epoxy boards. Outrigger canoes recall ancient Hawaiians' exploration of Oahu's colorful reefs, and standup paddleboards combine an intense workout with clear views of the pristine waters below. The shop also offers daily and long-term rentals of equipment, with complimentary delivery and pickup from local hotels.
At more than 1,200 Mattress Firm locations around the country, shoppers sink into plush mattresses, recline on firm beds, and belly-flop onto pillow tops. Knowledgeable staffers can help customers create an ideal bedtime environment by dispensing advice based on sleep preferences and illuminating the difference between the many kinds of mattresses. And to the delight of their customers, much of Mattress Firm's bedding wears the label of a premium brand, such as Sealy, Serta, Simmons Beautyrest, or Stearns & Foster.
With more than 25 years of experience, Patio.com oversees a wicker- and wood-framed stockpile of rugged and refined game-room and outdoor furnishings to outfit open-air play spaces with tables, chairs, cushions, hammocks, barbecue grills, and billiard tables. Shoppers can peruse a variety of styles from teak and aluminum to adirondack, sling, strap, and nougat-centered.