Angie Acosta, founder of Queen City DanceOut, has a simple motto for her students: "If you're moving, you're doing it right." This encouraging, low-pressure attitude attracts people of all ages to her dance-inspired fitness classes, which meet at 18 public locations. Angie and her instructors aim to make exercise feel like a celebration and a refreshing break rather than a dreaded routine. To this end, their classes incorporate intuitive dance moves and invigorating music. DanceOut, the signature course, blends genres as diverse as swing, hip-hop, and reggae into a workout, relying on repetition and basic choreography to keep everyone grooving. Other highlights of the curriculum include the Latin rhythms of Zumba; the Dance Impact class, which fuses dance and kickboxing; and JamStrong, a mixture of core-conditioning, dance, and fun.
Community is a central aspect of every DanceOut class. As pupils practice their twirls, they can follow both the teacher and the Jam Crew—a team of regulars who help make the steps easy to follow and can assist fellow dancers. In addition to group workouts, instructors host skill workshops such as Booty Bootcamp, where attendees learn rump-shaking techniques and how to turn any chair into a rocking chair. They also put on performances and lead private classes for special events and parties.
Father-and-son team Robert and Fred Lee worked as homebuilders for years before going into business selling lights in 1965, so they knew how quickly something impressive could rise from a humble foundation. Sure enough, Lee Lighting, their small family company, grew to include a vast online retail shop and one of the largest lighting dealers in Texas. They've even purchased Savoy, a company that designs fixtures to bring cheer to dining rooms and make rooms full of ventriloquist dummies less terrifying.
Lee Lighting stocks shelves with a diverse selection of indoor lamps from brands including ELK Lighting, Quoizel, and Hudson Valley. Staffers certified by the American Lighting Association move beneath the dazzling crystal sprays and faux candles of chandeliers. They suggest outdoor lighting to transform backyards into regal terraces. They also stay abreast of lighting trends to help patrons select lights that will stay in style.
Martinizing Dry Cleaning commits to staying on good terms with Mother Earth, using recycled hangers, biodegradable packaging, and the GreenEarth cleaning process that shields customers from exposure to chemical residues. According to a 2007 Charlotte Weekly article, “The [owners] say some of the benefits of using the solvent include clothes that are softer and brighter. The garments also don’t have the smell from perchloroethylene—a common dry cleaning agent.” Though relatively new to the Charlotte area, Martinizing Dry Cleaners have been around since 1949 and have used their more than 60 years in the business to streamline their process. They launder and dry-clean clothes, linens, and such precious garments as wedding dresses or the dresses worn by babies in their first ultrasound photos. For their work, corporate headquarters presented Martinizing with the Rookie of the Year award in 2007, the Best Customer Service award in 2010 and 2012, and the Franchisee Leadership Award in 2012.
The Economist's globe-spanning scope, comprehensive analysis, and crushing, unflinching grasp on world economics make it required reading for people, people persons, and people-shaped cacti looking to stay up-to-date on world news, politics, and business. In addition to the weekly publications—including the magazine's 20+ Special Reports and its Technology Quarterly—subscribers to The Economist also receive special benefits, such as The World in 2012, a special annual volume that predicts trends for the coming year. Subscribers also get unrestricted access to the online site, with a fully searchable archive dating back to the Neolithic Internet era (1997), as well as free access to The Economist in audio, which includes the option to listen to digital recordings of all print articles or to download them as a weekly podcast. For updates on the go or “on the sitting down on a park bench enjoying the scenery,” access The Economist on an iPhone or iPad—every photo, article, and chart is delivered to subscribers' devices by Thursday at 4 p.m. EST.
Frame Warehouse creates professional, custom picture frames that are designed to protect all kinds of artistic creations and memorabilia while complementing their natural charms. Customers can choose from hundreds of ready-made mats and frames that translate into thousands of frame permutations (tabletop frames average $7–$10), or they can opt for a custom design clipped from the crafty corners of their own minds. All framing products are of the highest quality—barrier papers, dust covers, acid-free products, and five kinds of UV-resistant glasses combine to permanently preserve your masterful fingerpainting from fifth grade or your collection of two-dimensional cross-sections sliced out of the world’s skyscrapers. Prices vary widely depending on how the customer navigates the flowchart from frame size to final product, but most jerseys can be framed for less than $200, diplomas for as low as $75, and posters for under $100.
Plaza Appliance Mart has helped homeowners deck out their domiciles with an assortment of appliances and helpful one-on-one attention from knowledgable staff. Patrons can prepare tantalizers or torchers of taste buds with a GE countertop microwave ($69.95), or pick up a water filter ($39.99+) to wash down meals more purely. Shoppers can also apply this Groupon toward pricier home wares, such as front-load or top-load washers and electric dryers. Specialty refrigeration devices, such as wine coolers (from $429+) and chest freezers ($449+), keep fermented grapes and swordfish heads fresh for romantic double-date duels.