Founded by a childbirth educator recently profiled in Worcester Mag, Mothers & Company’s natural-parenting community center supports expectant and new moms with relaxing yoga classes while its store supplies them with organic and natural baby products. The store's collection of cloth diapers, baby carriers and slings, pumps, and other accessories facilitates a natural and organic transition into parenthood. The store’s homeopathic, all-natural Hyland's Calms Forté sleep aid soothes parental nerves with chamomile, slipping them into restful sleep filled with dreams about even more sleep ($7.50); a pair of absorbent, washable Bummis training pants stretches with Lycra to fit around little legs and bellies as they trot toilet-ward ($11).
Instructing riders on a lush 22-acre farm, Woodgate Farm's retinue of experienced instructors coaxes the equestrian spirit out of beginning riders with two private horseback-riding lessons. Like the quality of tomato-throwing at opera performances, the one-hour lessons vary depending on skill level, with novices learning the basics of prepping, mounting and walking their four-legged vessel. More advanced riders can spend their session cantering through the indoor or outdoor arena or practicing gravity-besmirching tricks over the full set of jumps. Seasoned horse whisperers pair each rider with one of the eight mellow horses and ponies, offering jaunts calm enough to put the Energizer bunny to sleep. After mastering the primary pony skill sets, saddleriders learn how to give back to their equine friend with a lesson in grooming. Doting hands brush manes and pelts, clean feet, and learn the step-by-step process to prevent galloping pals from rusting.
Concrete Wave brings a slice of California style to the Northeast. For more than 20 years, the shop's primary focus has been skateboarding. In addition to stocking decks and boards from makers such as Alien Workshop, Zero, and Original Longboards, Concrete Wave sells skate shoes and clothes from Nike, DC, Vans, and Volcom, among others.
Despite the emphasis on skating—which extended to the opening of a partner skate park in 2008—the shop is also as passionate about powder as an enthusiastic makeup artist. Technicians in the board shop tune up snowboards in preparation for the winter snow season and also sell boards, boots, bindings, and apparel from brands such as Salomon, Vans, DC, and Dakine.
With more than one million book titles to choose from, Barnes & Noble stocks one of the retail world's largest selections of bound pages, along with a huge assortment of educational toys and games. Keep sprightly scribes from using walls, furniture, and siblings as writing surfaces with the help of LeapFrog’s Scribble & Write ($24.95 online), or indulge kids’ natural passions for outer space and solid detective work with a LEGO Space Police Smash ’n’ Grab set ($19.95 online).
At Grime, racks abound with an eclectic cavalcade of styles, designs, and sizes, with new additions and local artist creations added on a weekly basis. Handpicked by owner Molly McGrath, the variegated inventory flanks both sides of the cozy store, allowing guests to hunt for one-of-a-kind treasures in all directions, much like riding a spinning teacup ride inside of a jewelry store. Vintage t-shirts ($5–$20) augment wardrobes with a dash of contemporary attitude, and jean jackets ($18) and rompers ($15–$18) drape shoulders and torsos in fashionable threads. Men can tout muscles, tattoos, and tattooed imitations of muscles with a variety of vests ($9), and ladies can accessorize with trendsetting selection of bags ($9–$16) and boots ($10+). Before revealing fresh duds to the outside world, guests can snap a royal photo next to a massive portrait of Elvis.
The helpful staff at Armandos' all-purpose boutique has dedicated almost 30 years to the hawking of high-end men’s apparel, shoes, and accessories. Sharp shirts by Smash drape comfortably over taut torsos ($79–$99), and a wide selection of designer ties serve as elegantly patterned upper-body ornaments ($29–$49). Instead of carrying a puppy around the office, bosses aiming for the "approachable" look can assemble an outfit with a Steven Land dress shirt ($49–$59), a Stacey Adams ascot ($29), and jeans from Buffalo ($79–$99). Head and toe swaddlings include snappy hats from Bailey ($49–$69) and protective foot fortresses from Giorgio Brutini ($59–$89). Armandos also touts an epic selection of fragrant colognes ($39–$99), which can be used to impress the onsite tailor, who is always available to shape threads to body types of all stripes.