The Ellis family traces its history of working with plants to the late 1800s, when they operated a pottery-manufacturing company in Texas. Current-generation family members build from their familial expertise at all five of their store locations, spread between Louisiana and Texas. Twice a year, the Ellises travel overseas to identify upcoming horticulture trends decided by UN meetings in The Hague. This has expanded their decorative focus to include all aspects of home décor to complement greenhouses filled with tropical blooms and locally grown shrubbery. Clocks, lamps, and vases score homeowners extra credit in interior-design classes, and fountains and outdoor furniture make gardens hospitable for warm weather. For those who want to get ahead on holiday decorating, they offer an extensive selection of seasonal decor and accents year round. The Ellises encourage creativity with hands-on classes in subjects such as making centerpieces, weaving wreaths, and tying ribbon into perfect bows.
Handicap Accessible: No
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Containerized trees
Pro Tip: Wear comfortable, toed shoes. There are gravel roads and grassy paths.
Good for Kids: Yes
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
What sets your business apart from your competition?
We are a farm anchored by our nursery, vineyard and winery.
What was the inspiration for starting this business?
A need to be connected to the earth is in every one of us. For me, great company and great wine in beautiful surroundings is as good as it gets.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Along with picking out some great nursery stock, the winery tasting room is open for sampling. There are a number of fun events coming up this spring. Be prepared for live music, our sheep being shorn, or an art event when you come out for the weekend. ... We grow trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses, but not annuals and vegetables. And, yes, you can call me Gilbert Grape.
What is the best reaction you?ve ever gotten from a customer?
It is so gratifying to see our products woven into the tapestry of people's lives. I have helped people pick out trees to celebrate new beginnings and also to remember those not with us. One day in the winery a couple came in celebrating their 30th anniversary. And they told me how their son had just proposed to their future daughter in law over a bottle of our wine. Love that.
What?s your favorite part about your job?
Walking through a beautiful nursery crop, or the vineyard before harvest, or opening the first bottle of a new vintage with customers in the tasting room is all equally fun. I also love seeing nursery stock we grew all over Kansas City.
Mother-daughter team Juli and Breanna, who just graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in metal smithing, share their love of artistic expression at Bee Creative Studio, where they invite guests to join them in painting pottery and fusing glass. Visitors browse the ranks of piggy banks, plates, and figurines of frogs and dragons before picking up paintbrushes or the end of their braids to dip in paint. Finished pieces stay at Bee Creative while the experts glaze and fire them, and their creators can pick them up in five to seven days.
Those who want to wear their art can paint designs that Bee Creative transfers onto T-shirts, baby’s onesies, or aprons for keeping clothes clean while cooking or performing mad, mad science. Or, guests can delve into the world of fused glass, layering colors for jewelry, plates, and sun catchers that the studio experts fire and ready for pickup in a week. In addition to its open studio hours, Bee Creative hosts parties for birthday celebrants and brides-to-be.
Nestled inside a repurposed 1927 cottage, the arts-and-crafters of Sunfire Ceramics guide paint-spattered guests through embellishing personalized pottery or creating fused-glass art. In the open studio, guests can peruse the monochromatic selection of microwave- and dishwasher-safe paintable pottery ($6–$12 on average) before adorning a plate or decorative frame with more than 50 bright underglazes. Stencils, stamps, sponges, and paintbrush-wielding woodland creatures assist guests in realizing their artistic visions. Fused glass projects lie in wait to become translucent masterpieces: dichroic metallic glass transforms into pendants ($10–$12), sun catchers ($12), or the world’s most dangerous windshield as the amicable staff offers sage advice before spiriting the art pieces away for firing.
On a fateful day in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, a hitchhiker arrived at The Howdy Come In––a rest stop owned by Ben and Eva Winter––carrying only his clothes and a suitcase full of cabinet-making tools. The Winters decided to hire him to build a chifforobe for their new baby, Bobby, and were so impressed by his craftsmanship that they decided to go into business with their new friend. Soon the partners were selling new and refurbished furniture out of the Winters’ dairy barn under the name Winter’s Furniture Store, and they eventually moved to a storefront in the city of Emporia, where they could share their high-quality wares with more people and fewer confused cows.
Today, the family business is run by the Winters’ son, Bob, who oversaw its expansion into two showrooms in Topeka and Lawrence and gave it a new moniker––Discovery Furniture. His merchandise buyers select fine furniture from around the world, filling the design floors with trusted name brands such as Broyhill, Aspen, and Flexsteel. As a member of the Furniture First buying group, Winter is able to pass along the savings of buying stock in volume along with a guarantee that he will meet or beat any competitor’s advertised price within 75 miles. Interior designers on staff can help customers determine which pieces, styles, and colors best fit their needs, and most of Discovery’s furniture can be custom ordered in any style, color, or fabric, catering to customers who know what they like and like to match their upholstery to their clothes.
At the helm of CrossFit Lawrence is owner Thomas Thatcher. Certified in everything from CrossFit to USA Weightlifting and CPR, he also relies on his experience as a black belt to lead CrossFit classes that are equally eclectic. During those classes, Thatcher and his team of certified instructors guide participants through daily workouts that incorporate varied, functional movements. They get participants flipping giant tractor tires, lifting weights, and throwing medicine balls, all of which use everyday movements and work every muscle group. Their encouraging shouts rattle the walls of the brand-new 6,000-square-foot facility, which brims with a massive bouldering wall and $30,000 worth of CrossFit gear.