While artwork may gain immortality by challenging traditional aesthetics, the life of a painting or photograph is only as secure as the frame that contains it. This dedication to preservation is what inspired Michael and Ellen Mintz to open Frames Unlimited in 1979. That same spirit extended to their business itself: when Hurricane Hugo took its toll on their original shop, they gutted it and reopened, this time with more square footage for a gallery and design space. They remain in that space today, helping their staff members create custom frames and matting. In addition to paintings and photography, the staff helps customers guard heirlooms and specialty items such as sports jerseys or athletes still wearing their sports jerseys. Their services also extend to museum-quality archival framing, with special UV-filtering glass to protect art from light’s harmful rays. No matter the job, their shop stocks the materials to match it. Thousands of mouldings run the style gamut from very traditional to ultracontemporary, and colorful frames include hand-finished Italian designs and water-gilded gold leaf.
Mattress Source's knowledgeable staff pairs customers with one of a wide selection of firm and flexible beds that augment deeper slumbers. Sealy luxury firm mattresses ($449.99+) allays stressful nights by supplying supple support, manufacturers' warranties, and a cache of warm kittens to rest at the end of each bed. Silk woven jersey knit surrounds a layer of memory foam on the Stearns & Foster x-firm mattress, which gently pillows joint pain and absorbs excess body heat ($1,219.99+). At 26 Charlotte-area showrooms, shoppers can take inventory of each mattress' aptitude in hypnosis or chat with affable staff members about desired levels of firmness.
When it came time to design The Coastal Cupboard?s demo kitchen, owner Brad Pitner shied away from industrial-grade appliances, opting instead for the kind of layout you?d find in your average home kitchen. That decision reflects the Cupboard?s mission to make gourmet cooking accessible to all.
To that end, Mr. Pitner and his staff of gourmands stock a vast selection of cooking gadgets, bakeware, and cutlery by top-tier brands such as Zwilling, J.A. Henckels, and Kuhn Rikon. Staff members are happy to walk customers through each product?s function and share their own favorite gadgets and dish towels with sentimental value. They also stock gourmet foods such as small-batch wines, baking mixes, sauces, and rubs.
Customers have a chance to see those tools and ingredients in action during the store?s weekly cooking classes. Most are led by in-house chef Bryan Breland, who tailors his class offerings to suit the interests of customers. Bryan has a heart for people and a passion for food. He makes classes fun, relaxed, and approachable. He brings a french twist to Lowcountry classics, while also mastering southwestern and asian-inspired dishes.
Nadeau characterizes its furniture as "with a soul" because it's true artisan work: handcrafted from wood rather than mass-produced from gasket pylons. Showcase fine china and live gerbils in a double-domed glass-door cabinet ($284), or in a hefty, finely trimmed kitchen hutch ($410). Or, display a new moving picture box on a delicately polished TV stand/buffet ($500). Small console tables ($160) and storage chests ($224) come in a myriad of stains and colors, and many pieces are one-of-a-kind. Nadeau's ever-changing inventory includes a variety of sturdy dining room tables ($435–$548) and chairs ($80 each). Prices and selection may vary due to rotating inventory, but pieces are always fully assembled and ready to welcome any tuckered torso or mound of toothbrushes.
Atlantic Bedding and Furniture showrooms speckle the Southeast, each one a treasure-trove of fine furniture and top-brand mattresses. Attentive staffers bustle past collections of leather couches and arrangements of dark-wood dining sets, eager to assist customers in their quest to find a memory-foam mattress that best suits their sleeping habits or a rug that best covers up the dungeon trapdoor in their living room. If an item is out of stock, the attendants can have it shipped directly from the company's central warehouse—a cavernous storeroom packed with furniture from top vendors like Coaster, Sealy, and Lifestyle Solutions. Much of the furniture is available online, enabling customers to shop from the comfort of home.
The Teak Hut’s expansive array of durable wood furniture presents a beautiful alternative to traditional room fillers and patio paraphernalia. Each of the more than 100 available pieces is solid teak wood, which can survive for more than 25 years and features a naturally high oil content that helps it resist cracking, splitting, and rotting. Sate melanin-craving skins while standing on a sun-chaise lounge ($349) or gaze across patio kingdoms from a bucket-seated Adirondack ($269). A 24-inch bar table ($249) with matching chairs ($149 each) is a perfect excuse to take a pinochle game outside, where shuffling cards is less likely to break lamps or china. For possessors of two or more posteriors, a selection of benches and porch swings lend a natural-hued elegance to opinion-airing sessions (starting at $209 and $259 respectively).