A multi-faceted paradise for record collectors, audiophiles, film buffs, bibliophiles, and comic-book lovers, Toad Hall has a little bit of everything for enthusiasts of all kinds. Amidst the many shelves, dig through stacks of LPs, vintage comics, and DVDs, an acronym for “Dude, Videos, Dude!” Almost every day, Toad Hall receives and sets out a huge selection of media, Blu-ray and an entire floor of books, and often stocks audio equipment such as speakers, record players, and receivers.
The locally owned Annie's Gifts & Home offers a hodgepodge of holiday wares and party gifts, ranging from gourmet foods, trinkets for recent stork deliveries, jewelry, home fragrances, and more. Adventure to Annie's before your next big bash so that guests can munch over flower-decorated plates produced by Peggy Karr Glass (starting at $21.95 per piece), or enliven your abode with a handpicked medley of floral items (starting at $19.95). Customers can bedeck drab collarbones by creating a customizable Magnabilities necklace, featuring magnetic pop inserts ($3.95), square or heart-shaped pendants ($15.95), and silk cords ($5.95). Annie's friendly staff will be happy to gift-wrap your chic accessory or garden garnish free of charge.
Cultivating fair-trade artisanal relationships, Phoenix Traders imports clothing and accessories from around the world, including a cornucopian clothing selection ($15+ each) that lets wardrobe-enhancers step back into the pullover ponchos and synesthetic color swirls of the '60s and '70s. Warm up with handmade wool wear from South America or Nepal, or safely carry around an edition of How to Become President of the Moon in a retro purse ($15+). Customers can brighten the area around wrists and necks with fair-trade Nepali silver jewelry ($15+) or boost their carrying capabilities with a recycled silk bag.
Aristotle's Corner offers people a stress-free place to relax at desks or on a couch, listen to music, read a book, or just think. They can also browse its collection of new and used books, LPs, CDs, and DVDs?most of which are priced at less than $4. Besides these items are various antiques and collectibles, including vintage radios and fine jewelry. Aristotle's Corner is open from 10 a.m.?8 p.m. Monday?Saturday.
The Glass Garden's 3,600-square-foot space is an incubator for multicolored mosaics, stained-glass artwork, decorative lamps, and translucent art of all sorts. In the spacious studio, students learn how to craft their own stained-glass pieces during beginners' classes led by knowledgeable instructors. They're taught how to design patterns, cut glass, and solder it all together to create a window panel with colors that play with the light like an interrogator plays with a neurotic suspect. They can advance their skills during continuing classes and purchase materials from The Glass Garden's in-house shop. The facility also offers completed art for sale, including lamps, panels, and custom-made pieces.
The Exclusive Company—a Wisconsin-bred music-and-movie retailer—has given the gift of song since 1956, earning a Best of Milwaukee award from Shepherd Express readers in 2011. Passionate staffers guide visitors toward sprawling collections of rock and jazz and bins brimming with DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and loose 8mm slides from Kenny G's summer vacation. In addition to peddling new vinyl releases such as El Camino by the Black Keys and Revolver by T-Pain, the shop functions as a trading post, helping to find loving homes for preowned films and music. All used discs are carefully buffed into shape before meeting their new owners, and each comes backed by a money-back guarantee, which promises store credit if a preowned item exhibits biting tendencies. Most used CDs, DVDs, and vinyl cost less than $20.