Experienced framers Barry Stahl and Bob Clayton built Big Picture Framing from scratch in 2000, holding meetings around an old card table as construction roared around them. Today, framers at 15 area locations craft custom frames to display artwork, photographs, and record sleeves, and shadow boxes protect three-dimensional items such as ballet slippers, macaroni art, or a swarm of wasps. Patrons can dictate all design choices, choosing from metal and wooden frames in a multitude of colors and styles, or ask for recommendations from one of Big Picture Framing's resident experts. Big Picture Framing also stocks pre-framed art, prints, and posters to spruce up bare-walled homes or a drab doghouse.
Though the horse-drawn vacuums of yesteryear have come and gone, North Shore Vacuum and Appliance retains its family-run ethos from when it first opened in 1934. Now helmed by fourth-generation salesman Wayne Simonelli, the shop carries vacuums from dozens of brands, such as Dyson, Eureka, and Panasonic, and the staff performs repairs on a slew of models as well. In an interview with the Daily Item, Simonelli said, "I know vacuums. I go to seminars, conventions. I probably repair 1,000 machines a year." This dedication has earned North Shore Vacuum and Appliance the distinction of Miele Diamond Dealer, with access to limited-edition models only made available to exemplary retailers and scientists still trying to build a time machine.
Wolf Hill Home and Garden Center's retail roots stretch back to 1978, when the family-owned operation blossomed from seed to store in Gloucester. Since those first years, the center has expanded to a second location in Ipswich and continues to beautify terraces and terrains around the Boston area with high-quality plants, flowers, and decorative accents. Organic and synthetic products weave their vibrant vines around both stores, including natural and silk arrangements, which can be designed elegantly for formal occasions or outfitted with sweatpants for casual get-togethers. In addition to its thriving supply of landscaping products, Wolf Hill Home and Garden Center adjusts its inventory according to the seasons, such as patio furniture during spring months and firewood, fireplace accessories, and holiday decorations during winter months.
Founded by John McCue in 1933, McCue Garden Center has passed down through three generations of tree tenders and plant whisperers. Now, 79 years later, the family's center has blossomed to include two locations: the garden center in Woburn, and McCue's Flower Outlet in Billerica. Along with a knowledgeable staff, the McCue family helps visitors at each of the locations select healthy flowers, shrubs, and trees from the nursery or organic soils and fertilizer from the store, and oversees an adjoining florist shop, which churns out colorful arrangements and lovely long-stemmed roses daily. They update the store's ample inventory to suit the seasons, with selections such as statuary, flowers, and vegetable plants in the summer and fresh balsam Christmas trees, wreaths, and poinsettia-shaped snow cones in the winter. In addition to celebrating the earth's constant revolution with a rotating array of seasonally appropriate plants, they host a wealth of holiday festivities, from October's corn maze to spring's Easter-egg hunt.