Gwen Willhite founded Cookies by Design in 1983, when an unsatisfying brainstorming session about gift ideas led her to ponder one question: why should flowers and sweets remain separate? Her solution was to design the cookie bouquet, where custom, hand-decorated cookies are displayed on sticks and arranged like flowers in gift baskets. Her invention quickly became a popular gift among locals, particularly those allergic to real blooms or too bashful to look at naked cookies.
Twenty-five years later, there are more than 200 Cookies by Design locations across the country. Each shop's team of bakers creates cookie baskets with a degree of care that matches Willhite's original vision, decorating and arranging sweet shapes for birthdays, holidays, and any other special occasion.
Corona Cigar Co. welcomes all types of cigar lovers, from casual smokers to rolled tobacco connoisseurs to four-star generals in need of chomping sticks. The shop’s friendly atmosphere encourages ample browsing, which is made easy by a stock of millions of premium in-store cigars that patrons can savor as they sit back, relax, and enjoy a rare spirit, cocktail, or glass of wine at the bar.
Eric Dendy, a personal trainer for almost 20 years, opened Lift of Lake Mary as a private training studio where degreed and certified trainers work one-on-one with clients to encourage ongoing fitness development. The studio stockpiles free weights, machines, stability balls, and resistance bands. In each one-hour session, trainers change routines while honoring clients’ goals, from losing weight and reducing everyday aches to increasing energy and improving their ability to touch the top of Shaq’s head. Workouts can be tailored for any fitness level, including routines for those with injuries, those with special medical conditions, or for those whose natural strength crushes most workout equipment. For best results, Lift of Lake Mary recommends clients do a cardiovascular workout before or after each session.
A specialty food shop, Health Nut Express stocks its shelves with organic and eco-friendly grocery items and serves vegan fare from its café menu. Staff members tend to the raw juice bar and whip up 12 different flavors of juice ($5 for 16 oz.) and fresh smoothies ($4 for 16 oz.) that entertain customized additions such as wheat germ and bee pollen ($0.25 each) with straw-powered whirlpools. Soups and salads ($3 each) pair with vegetarian wraps and sandwiches ($6 each) concocted with a variety of breads, fillings, toppings, and condiments. Shoppers can saunter around with café with grub in hand as they scan the shelves displaying rows of vitamins ($6–$24), health and beauty products from natural lines such as Dr. Bronner's and Nature's Gate ($3–$12), and everyday grocery items with a healthy twist such as Bob's Red Mill flour, Naked Juice, and tabloids dedicated to celebrity broccoli eating.
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Gander Mountain Academy updates its lessons in gun safety, handling, and marksmanship with virtual shooting technology that was once only available to military and law-enforcement agencies. The ladies-only basic fundamentals class gives women a foundation in the mechanics of handguns and how to use them safely. Students start by winnowing down the right type of gun for their needs, be they self-defense, hunting, or reclaiming the garage from infestations of gremlins. Next, instructors with callused trigger fingers explain the safety rules of handguns, compare ammunition options, and demonstrate proper grip, stance, and trigger control.