Play N Trade outfits console gamers with the cartridges and accessories to transcend into parallel universes 8-bit and up. The store stocks brand-new games at standard pricing—such as Gears of War 3 for Xbox 360 ($59.99)—and most used games range from $1 up to $49.99; prices vary dependent upon the going rate for nostalgia. Kick back in the laid-back shop and take a trial run of potential purchases via one of the store's LCD televisions, or ask a game-versed employee about one of the store's secondhand accessories, many of which sell for less than $30. With today's Groupon, customers also become store members for one year, which bequeaths 10% off all used game or accessory purchases, a 10% bonus on trade-ins, and a highly coveted Nintendo Power Glove conceal-carry license. A member of Play N Trades expert staff verifies that all used items are in working order before they land on virtual shelves.
In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of “hard-to-find tools,” and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone’s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.
The experienced bead herders and metal wranglers who oversee the family-owned A Bead of Roses studio perpetuate the art of handmade, artisan jewelry. No prior experience is necessary to drop in on classes such as Beading 101 or Introduction to Precious Metal Clay Workshop, where the studio’s staff teaches students to shape and fire pendants from malleable gold and silver particle clay. In metalsmithing classes, students learn to wield a torch or a sneezy dragon’s snout to forcefully solder elegant necklaces. Classes take walk-in students or can be arranged for group events. A wide-ranging inventory of high-quality items—from feather hair extensions to hemp cord—keeps rivers of creativity from ever being dammed.
To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, ?She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.?
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand?s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
Down in Denver Bookstore specializes in buying and selling used and rare titles within the Old Clark House, a Civil War–era structure nestled in the Berkshire Mountains. Inside the historic shop, originally built in 1840, wooden bookshelves house a plethora of vintage and eclectic literary fiction and nonfiction volumes. Impress literature-loving pals with a signed copy of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels ($28), or dynamize humdrum gatherings by reading electrifying excerpts from Life and Times in Colonial Philadelphia ($5). First editions of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest ($55) and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray ($175) bolster even the most esteemed home library or bathroom shelf.
By answering any and all questions about their erotic wares, the staffers at Amazing Intimate Essentials have helped promote safe and sensual trysts for more than 40 years. Their selection of massage oils, lubricants, and adult toys?which occupies stores spread throughout the Northeast and Texas?contains goods from such established brands as We-Vibe, Jimmyjane, and K-Y. Along with an impressive catalogue of hundreds of adult toys and accessories, they offer the erotic romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey and related products. They stock female-friendly merchandise, as well as products that help couples create more sparks in the bedroom than a master metalworker soldering a "do not disturb" sign to the door. The staff stresses openness and acceptance in regards to romantic endeavors, an attitude that also fuels their unwavering support of the LGBT community.