The warmth of the staff at Mile 5.2 Greenhouse & Gift Shop rivals the warmth of its hand-tended conservatory. The affable plant buffs rely upon customer-focused service to combat impersonal "big-box stores," gladly guiding visitors through their greenhouse's lush pathways where flowers peek from hanging baskets and tropical plants share the roof with herbs. More than 125 types of perennials and fruit-bearing boughs boost their resilience as they endure the winter cold, training their blooms to return year after year so they can one day avenge their ancestors against the weed-whackers of clumsy gardeners.
In addition to its striking greenery, the Eagle River outpost stocks their gift shop with an array of gourmet foods, ranging from Lake Champlain chocolate bars and Oregon salt-water taffy to hearty soup and bread mixes. Additionally, home accessories such as wind chimes and scented candles can pair with potted petals to create colorful gift combinations.
What began as a colony farm built by the U.S. Army in 1935 became, by the mid-1950s, the childhood home of Reindeer Farm's head honcho, Tom Williams. After studying the habits of Scandinavian and Siberian reindeer herders in high school, Tom began to understand why the antlered creatures were considered the "cattle of the North": The brisk Alaskan climate suited their dense coats and languid presence at pool parties. In 1987, after years of practicing law throughout Alaska, Tom ventured to Canada to meet his first herd of reindeer, which he kept corralled next to a tiny sign and donation jar on the modest farm. Since then, that initial herd has blossomed into 150 reindeer, who graze beside 35 elk, 13 horses, one bull moose, and one surprisingly well-adjusted bison. Now a petting zoo, the farm has grown alongside the herd, with guided tours, scavenger hunts, and horseback rides treating guests to an up-close and hands-on experience with the majestic animals. Located in the colony's original chicken coop, a gift shop provides guests with any number of collectibles to commemorate their visits.
For more than 40 years, D'Florist has added artful elegance to special occasions with unique, blooming bundles. Peruse roses in every shade of the scented spectrum, choosing red to signify romance, pink to signify appreciation, or peach to signify a desire for pie. The always-artful arrangements can integrate tropical flowers, seasonal plants, or orchids ($35 average for small arrangements; $75 for larger sizes), bringing a touch of exotic flair to any Thanksgiving table, New Year's party, or honeybee birthday celebration.
Since 1991, For Fun Alaska has enlivened birthday parties, block parties, and community get-togethers with a comprehensive spectrum of bounce houses, obstacle courses, and party services. The collection of rental houses includes inflatable waterslides and bungee runs designed for children, as well as giant bounce houses and inflatable boxing rings suitable for adults. For Fun also places guests inside of giant hamster balls, allowing them to experience spinning pleasure while avoiding confrontations with pet rodents over whose turn it is to use the wheel. In addition, the staff proffers face-painting and balloon-animal services, and works with a commitment to keeping parties both safe and fun.
Inside its colorful storefront, Metro Music & Book Store stocks an extensive collection of previously-read fiction and nonfiction, nestled alongside rows of folk, rock, pop, hip-hop, and blues albums. Many of Metro Music’s publications sell for at least half off the cover price ($8 on average), so even relatively new releases are within the reach of frugally minded book worms. In the music collection, color-coded sections allow for easy genre-based browsing for the most mind-melting cuts and the grooviest subliminal messages (CDs start at $8.98). To give a newfound book a quick scan, customers can hang out at the in-store Café Felix, a laid-back spot to sip on daily roasted coffee, snack on crêpes, and read a best-selling novel about a talking vacuum cleaner that becomes UN Secretary-General.
Within a spacious showroom brimming with stylish-yet-functional furniture, La-Z-Boy’s knowledgeable staffers and design experts work tirelessly to help shoppers select accoutrement suited to their individual tastes. To do so, they harness the in-store Screen Test system, which allows patrons to envision the store's signature recliners and sofas in a full spectrum of fabrics and colors. A fleet of harmonizing furnishings—including tables and ottomans—make any room a home’s most popular one, guaranteeing it a date to the basement’s prom.