Neal Portnoy’s creative caricatures adorn the walls of celebrities such as Jay Leno and Jack Nicklaus. Part entertainer, part athlete, and part artist, Neal prides himself on his ability to entertain crowds while simultaneously creating stunning works of portrait art, caricature art, and commemorative pieces. Wielding only felt-tipped pens, Neal recreates scenes in stunningly vivid illustrations, which have been commissioned by organizations such as the Children’s Miracle Network and media guides for countless NCAA schools. He also draws on his keen sense of humor to delight audiences and subjects with customized caricatures that are comical, yet also characterized by an intuitive sense of grounded reality.
Only one addition could make the limbo, hula-hooping, or the monkey dance even more fun: bubbles. Worcester Bubble Parties' bubble machines spit out floating spheres of all sizes as fun, age-appropriate music plays. Kids can jump around in the iridescent orbs to the beat, try to catch and pop wayward bubbles, or wait until the machines power down and join in activities such as the limbo.
The staff at Zoots Dry Cleaning extracts stains and stress by pairing eco-friendly dry-cleaning services with the convenience of extended evening and Sunday hours, 24-hour drop-off and pickup services (available at most locations), and an automated drive-thru system. Team members clean clothes, draperies, bedding, and rugs with a biodegradable solvent as opposed to harsh PERC chemicals, and some staff are trained to expertly excise stains from the delicate lace and beadwork of bridal-gown bodices. Most stores also have a tailor on location who is able to alter ensembles in a snap. Customers get e-mail notifications when orders are ready or they can download a smartphone app to keep a close eye on the status of their dirty laundry.
In the mid 1960s, Murray and Ida Rotman gave the family name to their growing furniture and carpeting business, confident that it would hold employees accountable and remind them to interact with customers as one community member to another. Throughout multiple expansions and a change from the "7 Stores on 5 Floors Under 1 Roof" slogan to "New England's Largest Furniture and Carpet Store," the Rotman family has stayed true to its promise of treating people with honesty and respect. According to Furniture Today, the National Home Furnishings Association named the company a Retailer of the Year in 2011, remarking on its "outstanding customer service and involvement in community services and activities." To that end, the Rotmans have helped raise $1 million for the local Walk for the Homeless, and cofounded a furniture-exchange program that allows customers to donate their gently used furniture to a family in need.
The award-winning business owes its success not only to a commitment to core values, but to an eye-popping assortment of furniture, mattresses, and televisions—all arranged in curated displays that inspire home-decorating ideas and make people believe they’re in a house built for a hundred families. The helpful staff measures and installs carpeting or flooring and fleshes out creative plans with the design-a-room service: a free in-home consultation with a computerized analysis. The store also stays ahead of the latest industry trends and innovations, offering, for example, pieces from Paula Deen’s furniture line and budget-friendly clearance deals in a space known as the Attic.
Professional bartenders teach in classrooms set up as fully functioning bars. The facilities present lifelike conditions for students to learn skills such as the proper shake and pour for a variety of cocktails, muddling raw ingredients, and getting the right amount of head on a draft beer. Courses also cover the technical elements of bartending, which may include setting up drink stations, understanding liquor laws and board-of-health requirements, and operating payment systems that accept both credit cards and gold ingots.