Back in 1999, brothers David and Rick Kueber noticed a lag in business at their chain of video-rental shops during the summer months, when no one wanted to be cooped up inside watching movies. The two put their heads together and found a rather unconventional solution to their problem: tanning beds. They installed a new fleet of skin-bronzing machines and sat back as so many clients flocked to their shop that the brothers were forced to open an entire store just to cater to their clients? tanning demands. This was the birth of Sun Tan City. Today, what started as an experimental side business boasts more than 200 locations across 16 states.
The staff at each location maintains a meticulously clean space, where they show clients to UV beds dubbed fast, faster, fastest, and instant. The beds include features such as facial tanners and self-contained air conditioners. Alternatively, clients can opt for the UV-free, automated VersaSpa system, which swathes physiques in a DHA, plant-based bronzing solution. The liquid reacts naturally with skin?s amino acids, creating an even coat as radiant as the high beams on Helios?s chariot within 46 seconds.
Rocket Express, located on the campus of Reeths-Puffer High School, joins forces with Y-Knot Embroidery to emblazon school emblems across a variety of merchandise. Pupils can assert their high-school-student status with the 100% cotton of a Reeths-Puffer t-shirt or hooded sweatshirt, which help justify a tendency to sleep until noon. Stow scalps beneath a pink ladies Port Authority cap, or sip milk from a 22-ounce refillable tumbler. The shop can customize much of its merchandise, embroidering items with names, numbers, or locker combinations.
The store opens its doors during lunch on school days, from 11 a.m. to 12:35 p.m., and after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 2:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. The public can also select their spirited wares during basketball games, choir concerts, and indoor events.
The friendly folks behind Y-Knot Embroidery stitch and screenprint names, logos, or favorite phrases onto a range of accessories and clothes for individuals, businesses, teams, and volunteer groups. The staff can personalize any accessory or article of attire—which can include brightly colored tees, hats, coats, and work-worthy button-ups—in their entire inventory. They can spiff up a polo shirt with an embroidered monogram, or distract potential thieves hoping to steal your beach bag with a screen-printed math problem.
To give back to their community, the staffers promote cancer awareness, stocking items such as Kid’s Cancer Storys, which benefits Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Institute.
At Your Plate or Mine, both seasoned glazers and greenhorn glammers turn unadorned pottery and glass fragments into one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Pottery prettifiers of all ages choose from more than 500 pieces of bisque ($4–$55), ranging from plates ($8–$12) and mugs ($8–$12) to figurines ($9–$12). With their blank slates in tow, guests pick out paints and, like the Beauty and the Beast animation team, bring the ceramics to life; if painter's block sets in, a friendly staff can offer tips and suggestions.
In business since 1907, the fourth-generation dud detergers at Meier Cleaners oust drab soils from dazzling wardrobes. Enzyme-based soaps help keep whites white and colors bright enough to skip shades on the color chart. Bring in a two-piece suit ($13.50), a pair of pants ($7.75), or a sweater ($8.50) for a new lease on sartorial life after a gentle, yet firm, cleaning. Meier Cleaners also restore wedding frocks to pristine states, turning back the clock to a time when they dreamed of finding a cute tuxedo to marry.
White Lake Greenhouses Floral has been translating complex sentiments into table-decorating arrangements for more than 100 years. Celebrate an heir to carry on the family foosball legacy with the Welcome Baby Boy arrangement ($45+), highlighted by green jade roses, blue iris, and white gerberas, or practice tango maneuvers to the mailbox with single-cut flowers ($1+). A basket-bound benjamin fig tree ($35+) gracefully adorns countertops, and a balloon bouquet ($20) cheers up loved ones and sparks the envy of gravity-enslaved bouncy balls.