Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
For more than half a century, Mill Stores has dispensed an enormous array of high quality, ready-to-finish wood furniture and accents to enhance homestead comfort. As a factory-finished solid-oak rocker ($249.99) supports reclining spines, a three-step stool ($19.77), crafted from solid eastern white pine, aids customers in accessing difficult to reach shelves filled with stashes of candy and bacon fat. Stockpile bottles of grapey goodness in a solid wood Tuscany wine box ($39.99) or artfully arrange CDs and DVDs in the sliding separators of a solid pine rack ($23.99). A shingled-roof doghouse ($179.99) shelters canines in safe, cozy pine, and a cast-stone scroll birdbath ($49.88) cleanses neighboring loons and fallen airplane peanuts in its stylish cement surface. Shoppers unable to find their desired décor in stock can request customized designs, which Mill Stores crafts in two weeks or less.
More than two decades ago, Deb Caron Plourde traded the corporate world for the warm confines of her personal glass-fusing studio. The result was Sundancer Stained Glass, now a bustling workshop where beads, sushi plates, and custom windows emerge from the fire each day. Often led by Plourde, regular classes encourage interested parties to hone techniques from sculpturing to smoldering while learned glass-fusers can pick up supplies by brands such as Bullseye and Kokomo for the eventual satisfaction of throwing a baseball through a window you made yourself.
The bolts of fabric that line the walls and end tables that display books, patterns, and finished pieces all contribute to the inspiring atmosphere at Sanford Sewing Machines. Behind the counter, craft gurus sell professional sewing machines and sergers from brands such as Bernina and Baby Lock, ensuring customers can quilt, embroider, and sew anatomical charts into pillowcases or tote bags at will. Sanford’s factory-certified technicians also brandish 25 years of tinkering expertise to repair all makes and models of commercial and home machines. Additionally, classes crop up regularly in specific craft concentrations such as the making of fleece socks, pillows, or purses.