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.
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).
Over the past 100 years, Regal Ware has forged quality American-made cookware designed to unite families via home-cooked meals. Products made in Regal Ware's Wisconsin factories, such as the American Kitchen cookware line, are sold in more than 130 countries and include stainless-steel saucepans ($70+) designed to ensure temperature distribution and durability. The American Kitchen line includes nonstick frying pans, stockpots, and sauté pans, which can be purchased in a complete 10-piece set ($200). Groupon holders can also pick up American Kitchen covered saucepans featuring glass covers for monitoring meals ($30) or baking pans ($30) and cookie sheets ($18) to cradle sweets with stainless steel during 350-degree naps.
Ticket stubs, needlework, oil paintings: the experts at The Great Frame Up have handled them all, turning them into wall-ready hangings. Their selection of hundreds of frames, matting options, and varieties of glass makes it easy for clients to find the right colors and textures to complement their artwork. In addition to custom framing, the professionals offer conservation framing for paintings with monetary value or used napkins with sentimental value. Three-dimensional objects are also a specialty: The experts can slip hockey pucks and musical instruments into acrylic cases or send clients home with one to keep empty in anticipation of finally acquiring that unicorn horn. Inside the store, customers can peruse a selection of ready-made frames and framed art work.
Helmed by a professional duo of seamstresses, Fabric Shapers steers apprentices of all skill levels through two-hour private sewing lessons tailored to their individual goals and projects. Amateur stitchers can absorb basic threading techniques as those with prior knowhow learn to tackle more advanced subjects, such as linebackers made from yarn or fashion-design concepts. Acquire the skills to hem your own pants, or study the art of alteration for snugger, more flattering duds. Instructors can also guide students as they chart schematics for a custom garment styled from preexisting apparel, transforming an obsolete dress into a chic blazer or several hundred blindfolds for an upcoming consortium of piñata aficionados.
Poynette’s Smokey Hollow Farm was founded in 2004 as a hub for family holiday celebrations, selling harvested fir trees to Christmas shoppers and welcoming astonished onlookers to compare shoe sizes and inseams with Big Jake, the world’s tallest horse. Standing 6’10” in withers, the 11-year-old Belgian draft horse graces the pages of Guinness World Records 2011, and was recognized on Today for his goofy personality and fundraising efforts for Ronald McDonald House. During the holiday season, clients can also hitch free rides on horse-drawn wagons to tour the farm's lush grounds, and year-round visitors can stop by the gift shop to stock up on potpourri, Amish baked goods, and other items made by local artisans.