One of the area's oldest full-service tire dealers in operation, Hillen Tire & Auto Service opened in 1917 under the helm of the late Joseph Schnitzer, whose sons, Marvin and Jerry, maintained the tradition of trustworthy service. Now, under the new ownership of former manager and lead technician Brian Smith, the auto shop tends to the needs of almost every car and motorized pogo stick manufactured since 1974. An inventory of 38,000 tires from brands such as Michelin and Firestone set cars atop quality rubber, and ASE-certified technicians keep cars healthy with auto services that include tune-ups, heating and air conditioning, and maintenance packages.
If your shady parking spot rests beneath bird-filled trees, or someone scrawled carpetbagger into the layer of grime on your car window, today's Groupon can give your vehicle its original off-the-lot shine. For $18, you'll get Auto Spa Hand Car Wash's Wax Works Way package, including a complete hand wash, wax, and interior clean, a $38 value. Baltimore Magazine's Best Car Wash of Charm City, Auto Spa is located a cool 15 miles outside the city in Cockeysville, making the return trip in your newly perfected vehicle a ride you'll wish would never end. This Groupon isn't just great for sprucing up your own car: it also makes the perfect passive-aggressive gift for your dirty carpool driver.
The roots of Hunt Valley Motor Coach's family tree spring from two buses. In 1985, Edward Royston only had a pair of vehicles to his name, and a mission to make the traveling process a highlight of his clients' vacations. His fleet soon grew to 11 buses, and more still when the company joined with Gunther Charters, a business known for its memorable package tours. Today, Edward's emphasis on personality prevails at every step of the booking process, from online or phone conversations with the small sales team—where Gunther Charters founders Marty and Laurie Gunther still field calls—to greetings from each jovial driver.
From its Baltimore base, the company plans convenient round trips and tours to a variety of locales. Its daylong jaunts to Atlantic City deposit riders at the casinos and boardwalk, and excursions to New York launch days full of seasonal shopping and sightseeing. Thanks to locked and guarded storage, passengers are even encouraged to leave their laptops and other bulky possessions on the bus during their daylong excursions.
Themed tours ferry passengers to states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and Tennessee for overnight stays and guided explorations of local sites. The New Orleans tour, for example, leads groups through historic cemeteries and the botanical garden, and a holiday tour of Newport mansions showcases the intricate decorations and reindeer butlers of three resplendent homes.
To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend human rights" and "Protect our planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.”
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to a UK-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the Blue Corn 3-in-1 deep-cleansing scrub mask often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, and other national publications.
The Dark Side's passionate staff dims windows with Madico films that can block out up to 99.9% of UV light, preventing interior sun damage and boosting riders' privacy. During the two-hour process, the tint techie first cuts and heat-molds the adhesive film to fit each window, then squeegees it into place until it is as smooth as an obsidian statue dipped in motor oil. Car parents can choose from a range of shades and visible light transmission levels for their particular stylistic and practical needs, such as hiding their mid-commute pedicure from passing motorists.
At the AAA–approved facilities, mechanics attend to vehicles with all the skill and understanding you'd expect from ASE–certified technicians. Versed in every make and model of car out there, they dive underneath hoods and reinvigorate autos with Interstate batteries and products from BG Products Inc., repairing anything that's broken and slapping down a 24-month, 24,000-mile warranty. This castle of car care doubles as a state-certified emissions-inspection facility, and their shuttle treats auto owners to free rides whenever it's not busy rescuing helpless jalopies from junkyards.