As the owner of Artistic Painting Studio, Jennifer Ferguson teaches others how to spruce up their living spaces with decorative painting. But she doesn't confine her skills to the classroom. Over the course of her artistic career, she's broadcast her brushstrokes as a guest on The Carol Duvall Show on HGTV. At her own studio, the four-time author shares her techniques during classes along with her fellow trained and certified instructors. They elucidate the finer points of stenciling and faux-finishing surfaces such as keepsake boxes, walls, and airport landing strips. To inspire students, Jennifer keeps idea books on hand and emblazons her studio walls and floors with examples of ornate work. She also produces her own line of stencils at The Stenciled Garden.
Upon first glance, Le Roi French Bakery looks a bit like a castle. Roses and metal curlicues line the space, where bakers flit in and out of a pair of saloon doors. Named for the French word for king, this bakeshop’s confections are enchanting and majestic, like a towering mountain of Magic 8 balls. At the counter, a brightly lit case brims with classic European treats such as éclairs, napoleons, tarts, and parfaits. The scent of espresso wafts by as staffers froth fresh milk for lattes and cappuccinos. Like a fairy tale about princes and princesses, these details inspire daydreams as patrons leaf through albums stuffed with hundreds of custom-cake ideas, including tiered wedding cakes adorned with fondant flowers and round delights flanked with fruits, frostings, or ladyfingers.
Almost everything in John Gottschalk's life comes back to music. A french horn player since fifth grade, he earned money throughout his teenaged years working at the Gottschalk Music Center location his grandparents opened in 1951. After graduating from college with a music-education degree and teaching a year of elementary-school band, John rejoined the family business full time.
Under John, the company has not only expanded to two locations, but also grown its inventory from orchestra and band instruments to guitars, amps, and DJ equipment. A team of dedicated technicians fix any malfunctioning equipment in-house, while the store's wide selection of band and orchestra instruments are available for monthly rental. Via a team of expert instructors, Gottschalk Music Center even supplies private lessons in everything from guitar and piano to clarinet and ukulele.
Since 1981, the family behind Special Occasions & Gifts has filled its brick-and-mortar store with accents to decorate the home. Scented candles, centerpieces, and artwork line the shelves, which also tempt browsers with glittering Crislu stud earrings, rustic Bella Toscana marble housewares, and decorative tiles from artist Sid Dickens. In order to meet the demands of out-of-town friends and customers, Special Occasions & Gifts opened an online store in 1993, the same year the Internet was discovered.
Paula Gauthier loved working at Yesterday’s Books through high school and college so much that she ended up there, years later, as a manager. When the owners retired, she and her husband, Phillip, decided to buy the store and continue its more than three-decade run as a repository of new, used, rare, candy-coated, and out-of-print books. Today, the Gauthiers continually update a collection of more than 100,000 titles, all categorized into sections such as general fiction, classics, theology, and children's books stacked on floor-to-ceiling bookcases. They also stock eight always-unlocked display cases with rare books, such as a first edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin that would buckle the knees of any bibliophile, history buff, or person named Tom. Other collectibles range from a specially bound copy of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six to a signed volume by Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Tarzan and John Carter series.
The Gauthiers have also brought modern updates to the shop, such as replacing the paper-based store-credit system with an electronic one, which even gives members an online account to track available funds. Phillip observes that some regulars swap out up to 50 books per visit. In addition to book collections, the Gauthiers maintain a catalog of CDs, DVDs, and sheet music.
Color Me Mine Modesto’s studio puts paintbrushes and pottery in the hands of customers old and young. Party guests or budding Toyozo Arakawas follow four easy steps to craft beautifully painted ceramics, first choosing a ceramic piece from a selection of hundreds of seasonally changing items. After charting out a desired design from their imaginations or Color Me Mine's technique sheets, painters will select an underglaze from a cast of more than 50 colors, then apply paint with the focus of a peregrine falcon occupied by a Rockwellian spirit. Color Me Mine handles all kiln-firing work, allowing clients to take home their final products within five to seven days.