The animal lovers at Green Paws Unlimited care for pets like they're members of their own families while their human companions are away. They spared no expense when constructing their dog park, lining the indoor, air-conditioned facility with an eco-friendly synthetic recycled turf to ensure canine comfort and safety. For cats, the animal experts packed a play area with toys and climbing structures, in addition to surfaces designed specifically for optimal napping in their kitty condos. They treat overnight boarders to cushy suites with television, room service, and around-the-clock care while administering personalized services such as walks, massages, and grooming. The 24-hour online webcams monitor furry friends, giving owners the opportunity to check on their pets from vacation destinations or work and to capture footage adorable enough to submit to America's Funniest Home Videos.
In Gymboree Play & Music's most popular class, Play & Learn, tots master skills such as cause and effect, problem solving, and good communication through games and play. The notion that learning should be fun for the under-five set permeates all of Gymboree's classes. From music and art to sports activities, most classes are calibrated for development at six-month age intervals. Mixed-age classes teach cooperation, as kids play movement games or perform songs on musical instruments. Older children take the school-skills class to learn skills that will help them in school and during conference calls with the president. All of this takes place in a well-padded indoor playground with tunnels, slides, and bridges designed by nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to withstand tiny bare feet and the wrath of resident trolls.
Crowned Best Dry Cleaners by Grand Rapids Magazine, Sheldon Cleaners has been fighting the good fight against dud dirt and unpressed pants for more than 60 years. Its seasoned de-griming doctors will scrutinize each article and carefully tend to sweaters ($6.50), coats ($12.50), dresses ($12.50), and shirts ($4.99)—evicting fiber filth, obnoxious odors, and the stains of spilt wine and spilt blood from a rival poet. By using nonhazardous solutions, Sheldon Cleaners provides a thorough clothing cleanse and scores points with Mother Nature for its eco-friendly practices.
At Mark's Mattress Direct, friendly sales folk guide shoppers through no-pressure perusals of the show room's bounty, confident that the store's commitment to same-day delivery and factory-direct, cost-saving techniques speak for themselves. With an arsenal of bedding from trusted brands such as Corsicana and Englander, the inventory caters to the needs of every customer, from the entry-level Burnaby innerspring mattress for the casual napper, to the luxurious Bella pillow top for the more experienced marathon sleeper. Pallets of gel memory foam conform to tired bodies, giving them renewed strength and well-being each morning, while Michigan-made Clare mattresses deliver restful nights of sleep while contributing to the regional economy.
Laura Gravelle, a 2010 recipient of WeddingWire.com's Bride's Choice Awards, brings a sense of spontaneity to her portrait sessions, encouraging subjects to relax and give in to their most in-the-moment grins. A serial preserver of the present, Laura snaps pics of people at every stage of life, from babyhood to childhood to familyhood to can't-wait-to-escape-from-the-hood high-school seniorhood. Today's Groupon lets you pose with up to five of your best-dressed buddies and as many stylish shirts as you can collectively layer. Regardless of who or what blouse pattern is in the frame, Laura will make full use of her high-end Canon 5D Mark II and its L Series lenses, fine tuning the focus, framing, and desired depth of each shot.
"When we teach—from babyhood—people to move well, they'll enjoy doing it, and they'll continue doing it." Such is the philosophy of Gymco president and co-founder Doreen Bolhuis, which she relayed to the New York Times in a 2010 video report. The importance of starting young kids on the road toward athleticism is something Bolhuis is passionate about, especially as a former elite-level gymnastics coach who's been teaching for more than 35 years. It's a concept she calls "physical literacy," and she's appeared on news outlets such as Today, CNN, and ABC News to discuss how young children's physical training and development is just as important as their mental growth. Along those lines, Bolhuis created the GymTrix line of DVDs to help parents develop babies' fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
And Bolhuis's enthusiasm for childhood fitness is apparent at Gymco, where her staff undergoes a four-step technical and philosophical certification protocol on sports development. She has transformed what began in 1980 as a few classes held in a barn behind a local retirement home into a 5-acre, 16,000-square-foot first location and a second, state-of-the-art facility on the north side of town.
When you walk into either site, you'll see kids scaling rock walls, doing back flips, and defying imaginary pirates as they walk the plank-like high beam, improving their physical skills in sports, gymnastics, and cheerleading classes. What aren't as obvious are the internal changes that begin to manifest, from improved self-confidence and perseverance to the gradual building of character. Fulfilling her start-them-early mission, Bolhuis also offers classes designed specifically for preschoolers and kindergartners.