With in-store samples and a massive online inventory of crafting patterns, fabric, and supplies, MMIJA quenches any quilting or sewing thirst with a wide variety of high quality products. The large selection of fabrics and prints is fit for any ambitious project, such as a vintage-style dress, a snazzy pillowcase, or a luxury duplex blanket fort. Sew a patch over tiny scuffed knees with bumblebee fabric from Melly & Me ($9.99 per yard), or amp up your kickball team’s patriotism with jerseys festooned from Old Glory navy striped cotton ($8.99 per yard). A hefty supply of patterns is on hand for fashioning handmade gifts or punching up home decoration. With a variety of sewing and embroidery kits ($20–$78.95) crafters can knit a fashionable tracksuit or expertly fend off swarms of killer quilting bees.
Packard’s Games and Movies fuels friendly competition and hours of virtual entertainment with an eclectic abundance of gently used media. Gamers can fire up current consoles with a collection of used games, such as Halo 3 ($9.99) and Fable II ($7.99), which carry the ghosts of past triumphs to challenge their new owners. Those yearning for pixels of the past can dive into a rich selection of retro games ($2.99+) for vintage systems including Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Guide virtual superheroes as they jump across flames and elude persistent tax collectors with controllers for the Playstation 2 ($9.99+), Super Nintendo ($9.99+) or the Nintendo 64 ($12.99–$19.99). Stacks of previewed DVDs ($4.99) and Blu-rays ($8.99+) provide ample fodder for future movie nights. Each store has a slightly different selection, so call ahead for specific inquiries or simply browse through the cartridge- and disc-packed aisles in person.
Jim and Jeanette Greiner have been helping people escape the concrete ecosystems of everyday life since 1971. That's the year that they founded Wildwater, and as its name suggests, it started as a rafting outfitter that led groups down the rushing waters of the Chattooga River. Today, Wildwater's trained guides still navigate a number of rivers—the Ocoee, Nantahala, and Pigeon, in addition to the Chattanooga—but they've expanded their reach to the land as well. The company offers canopy tours with a combination of ziplines and elevated bridges, inviting guests to take a thrilling trip through the treetops. If clients prefer to stay within a few feet of the ground, they can opt for jeep tours that explore paths beyond the main roads.
Since Wildwater's team values the beauty of the natural environment, they embrace eco-friendly practices intended to help protect the areas they explore. Each of the company's locations strives to minimize its impact by using solar-powered water heaters for the showers, composting leftover food, and painting all of the outdoor equipment with chlorophyll.
Nestled in the mountains of East Tennessee, Hillside Winery presses and ferments its catalog of Italian-style and sparkling wines on site, often using fruit sourced from local farms. A rustic tasting room puts visitors in relaxation mode, while they sip sangiovese, pinot grigio, and Asti-style spumante from complimentary tasting glasses or prepare to engage the gift shop’s stuffed bear in staring contests. Behind the scenes, guests can see the polished, stainless-steel drums that press the grapes and store the wines, and observe as each bottle is capped, not corked. Butterflies captured by nature photographer Patricia Ferguson grace Hillside’s wine labels, adding a delicate note to each wine’s flavor profile.
Direct Tools Factory Outlet decks out sheds and tool belts with new, reconditioned, and factory-blemished tools and hardware from brands such as Ryobi, Homelite, Milwaukee, Hoover, and Dirt Devil. Eradicate dirt and crumbs from surfaces with the Dirt Devil corded pet hand vac ($39.99) or resize out-of-control indoor ferns with a Homelite reconditioned electric chainsaw ($44.99). The blemished right-angle drill by Ryobi ($55.99) can help piece together projects, as can the store's assortment of discontinued and reconditioned power tools and outdoor equipment. Unlike portraits rendered in ice, all of Direct Tools' products come with a warranty of at least one year.
Though they had stable, successful careers, Erik and Vesna Plakanis found themselves increasingly dissatisfied with their lives. Naturalists at heart, the nearby Smoky Mountains became an ever more powerful draw, enticing the couple to spend more and more time in the quiet, misty woods they loved. Things came to a head in 1998, after Erik ventured into the woods alone seeking answers. He came out convinced that his purpose was to share the wonders of the forest with others, so he and Vesna gave up their jobs and founded A Walk in the Woods to lead tours and raise environmental awareness.
Adding to their decades-long knowledge of the park's trails, the two are experts on edible plants, animal tracking, wilderness survival, and traditional storytelling, filling treks with interesting tidbits and engrossing yarns. A gaggle of fellow guides, handpicked for their love of nature and knowledge of the Great Smoky Mountains, helps lead the list of hikes and trips, which range from two hours to a full day to give patrons the chance to feel at one with nature without chaining themselves to the back of a deer.