Not many people discover their life's calling by the age of 12, but guitar teacher James Gabriano did. Now well-versed in multiple styles of music, he started with classical-guitar lessons as a child evolved into serious music study at the University of North Texas, where he honed his chops in the classical- and jazz-guitar curriculums. James's career would eventually lead him to play for music greats such as Aretha Franklin and Kenny G and to share his talent and love of music with local children. During guitar lessons, he teaches students how to develop their skills and how to make their guitars sing, from the first chord to the last stage smash.
Mom & Popcorn is the number one rated attraction in McKinney by TripAdvisors who give it an average of 4.5 Owl Eyes. Both Yelpers and Insiderpagers give it a perfect five star average rating, and has a glowing review in the Dallas Observer.
At Sip-n-Doodle, colors swirl, spread, and mix over canvases while lively conversations crackle. Artists walk students through step-by-step instructions, helping them fashion their own interpretation onto a painter’s canvas. Participants are encouraged to bring snacks and a beverage of their choice, the better to sip as they daringly work outside the lines. The studio provides all the necessary painting supplies, cups, and bottle openers, as well as blow dryers should works not be completely dry by the end of the night.
According to the Dallas Morning News, sewing and handwork gave Laura Kay Houser's life "balance"—guiding the stay-at-home mother through life's daily challenges as well as more trying ones, namely her son's illness. In 2006, Houser and two partners turned that restorative hobby into a business venture. Houser now spends most of her days behind the counter, eyes figuratively glued on her latest project.
Inside the colorful shop, shelves overflow with fabrics by brands such as Andover, Benartex, and Marcus Brothers, as well as with books, kits, and experimental needlework patterns inspired by the paintings of Jackson Pollock. Experienced teachers pop in to lead a variety of classes, ranging from sewing basics to workshops with renowned authors and designers. As the culture of quilting has always involved gifting quilts to those in need, the store publicizes volunteer opportunities involving quilting and other crafts.
Matthew and Heather Hamilton believe in local beef. Trading in corporate jobs to raise their own cattle in 2009, the couple began Genesis Beef, and eventually opened Local Yocal Farm to Market, a butcher shop selling free-range beef and pasture-raised pork, chicken, and eggs. The two haven’t looked back since.
Local Yocal Farm to Market’s grass-fed cattle meander across the Hamilton family farm, where their caretakers swap out growth stimulants and antibiotics in favor of fresh air. At the shop, an in-house butcher with more than 25 years of experience ages and cuts beef to customer specifications. Visitors can partake in some of this expertise during classes that teach beef lovers the difference between a sirloin, a filet, and a rubber steak covered in dog drool. In addition to top cuts of meat, the shop’s shelves also bear the fruits of other locally sourced businesses, including Full Quiver Cheeses and Drinkable yogurts, Aduro Bean coffees, and AP's Apiaries Honey.