The walls of Rage Grafix's show room sport a rainbow of sweatshirts, T-shirts, and hats lines, each proudly displaying the emblems of local high schools and the Iowa Hawkeyes. The bevy of memorabilia and casual apparel—available in sizes from infant to 6XL adult to XS klingon—flaunts the university's iconic black-and-gold color scheme alongside logos of area school teams, including the City High Little Hawks, the West High Trojans, the Solon Spartans, and the Clear Creek-Amana Clippers. Staffers also man an onsite screenprinting-and-embroidery facility, where they forge custom signs, business cards, and clothing for clubs and events such as bar crawls, tailgating, and pickup games of duck, duck, goose.
After enjoying an offering of fresh-brewed dutch coffee and complimentary cookies, patrons can cozy up to the Jewelry by Harold design counter, where a skilled silver guru crafts custom adornments and navigates eyes toward a variety of ready-made creations. Impress carnie game operators by tossing a polished silver ring around your pal’s outstretched pinky finger, watching as a large pink semiprecious stone sparkles midair ($59). Ears can be accessorized with a pair of matching spherical silver earrings ($49), and necks can be decorated with an elegant string of transparent green beads ($39). Groupon holders who opt for a custom embellishment will have a hand in its creation, leading to a sense of accomplishment rivaling that of a financially successful mime.
The quaint lavender home in rural Shueyville is hard to miss. When Lauren Cannon bought the place in 2004, her friends encouraged her to open a hardware or grocery store, but, according to Examiner.com, her passion for wine flowered into The Secret Cellar instead. The Cellar—a homespun boutique specializing in high-end wines—extends its stock of craft libations to handpicked beers, liquors, and artisanal cheeses.
As patrons peruse, fragrant tendrils of smoke ascend from Iowa–made soy candles, undulating across the store's stained-glass sign and idyllic outdoor wine garden. Lauren leans on her olfactory expertise to lend helpful recommendations and, as an instructor during classes, pair sips of classic varietals with activities such as dancing, painting, and reverse-engineering wine into grapes.
The inside of Itsy Bitsy Boutique looks like every pregnant mother's dream baby shower. Shelves are littered with handmade and boutique items, from handmade baby shoes to onesies emblazoned with Hawkeye logos. Local crafters even create some of their baby apparel, such as their flowery headbands, bibs, and blankets.