X-ray technicians at the local hospital shook their heads at their motionless patient—a mummified bird that had appeared in a lot of Egyptian artifacts set to go up for auction. After the techs confirmed that the bird was genuine, Richard "Jeff" and Amelia Jeffers, owners of Garth's Auctions, couldn't wait to put the important piece of ancient history in their catalog. Amelia Jeffers remembers that in fact, the bird did poorly at auction, as not many people collect mummified Egyptian wildlife. Instead, collectors flock to Garth's Auctions for vintage Americana, local folk art, Oriental rugs, and even real estate.
Since its opening in 1954, Garth's Auctions has appraised and sold thousands of collectibles at auction, but took on newfound enthusiasm and energy in 2006, when the husband-and-wife auctioneer team took it upon themselves to make auctions accessible to everyone. Amelia notes that first-timers should not be intimidated by the auction format, as the price range for items varies widely and auction catalogs list everything from fine art to firearms and novelty toys. She remembers recently auctioning off an antique novelty vampire-slaying kit complete with a wooden stake, garlic flour, and holy water. A large team of certified appraisers also leads scheduled walk-in appraisal days at museums across the country, and are available to appraise antiques in-house or in the ancient ziggurats where they are discovered.
Garth's Auctions has also worked to expand their environmentally-friendly endeavors such as printing catalogs with Forest Stewardship Council–approved recycled paper and replacing old company cars with fuel-efficient hybrids. However, the Jefferses believe that their most important green contribution is their day-to-day collecting and repurposing of antiques that reduce demand for new items.
Mattress Mart's slumber experts stock their stores with major-brand sleep surfaces?such as Serta, iComfort, and Simmons Beauty Rest?in twin, full, queen, and king sizes. Customers can rest their backs on the firm billows of a Factory Select twin set or support larger-scale lumbar regions with a soft, flippable Newport Flush set.
A consignment store filled with gently used furniture and décor, Experienced Possessions outfits homes with pieces that add utility and style. Visitors can shuffle about the store in search of hidden gems, inspecting the plush fabrics of sofa upholstery and the rich finishes of wooden tables. New stock arrives daily, making guests feel as up-to-date as the crystal ball on which all newscasts are based. In a typical visit, furniture-seekers may discover treasures such as a Scandinavian maple bookshelf ($49 for a 30"x36"x11" piece) or a Henredon sofa table ($75 for a 54”x16”x27” piece) fit to support a beautiful vase or a beloved book of knock-knock jokes. Customers can enlist the store’s helpful staff to find a wooden dining chair with a cane bottom ($55). With more than 20 years of furniture-peddling experience, the store can help shoppers to wrangle accoutrements suitable for a new home, living-room makeover, or indoor rodeo.
Candle Lab's candles use soy wax, cotton paper wicks, and pure fragrance oils so that they burn cleanly and evenly for up to 60 hours. Choose from more than 120 gourmet flavors including Tupelo honey, fresh linen, toasted marshmallow, bamboo, wild orchid, and burnt sugar. Seasonal specialties such as mulled cider, hazelnut, and autumn leaves are still in stock (candles usually cost $15). This Groupon is also good toward Candle Lab's hand-stamped greeting cards, bath and body products, and other home-fragrance products.
With a bevy of samples, stencils, and friendly advice, Outside the Lines helps lubricate the creative engines needed to craft one-of-a-kind pottery masterpieces. Dish decorators and bowl bedazzlers can take their pick of more than 275 pieces of unadorned pottery waiting patiently to be outfitted with strategically placed dollops and streaks of paint available in more than 90 colors. After choosing from a selection of dinner plates ($14), mugs ($13+), cereal bowls ($14), dog bowls ($17+), and animal figurines ($11–$22), blossoming artists plan a design strategy and apply a base coat. Classes in watercolors, drawing, or clay are available for participants to hone their artistic expression without painting a self-portrait on the neighbor’s front door. The two-hour Throwing is Good class ($25), held three times each month, introduces children and adults to the pottery wheel and allows each students to mold their own custom piece just like a set of dazzling brass dentures.
Inside Ashley Furniture HomeStore’s sprawling warehouses and show rooms, friendly staffers stock plush beds, sturdy end tables, and stylish home accessories. Expert designers craft these dwelling fillers, testing raw materials' durability and basic arithmetic skills before transforming them into classy furniture items that mesh with any decorating style. They build many tables and chairs to meet eco-friendly business standards, using recycled engineered wood to reduce landfill waste and slow down deforestation. Ashley also stocks nonwood items, including a selection of state-of-the-art body-cushioning mattresses from brands such as Sealy and Simmons.
For an additional charge, Ashley Furniture HomeStore transports its furniture using its own fleet of semi trucks and fighter planes, which ensure that comfortable couches and slick dining-room tables are never damaged and always fresh smelling. Each location is locally owned and operated, meaning staffers are friendly residents who know which couches best complement regional design trends and indoor weather patterns.