Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
A swarm of sock-footed kids climb up inflatable steps to reach the top of a rainbow-colored slide, sliding down in an orderly fashion before bouncing off and running back for another go. At Jumping Jax, children can safely expend energy with abandon, playing in air-filled structures that cushion them when they fall or work together to stage a production of the Icarus myth. The play arena sports a multitude of attractions including a bounce house with a Twister-board floor and two low-hanging ziplines.
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At eight showrooms across the Kansas City area, SleepOne Mattress Superstore's aptly named sleep advisors recommend mattresses that will accommodate budgets and physical conditions such as stiffness and pain. After scouring the showroom's floor, the staff might suggest a Sterns and Foster mattress made with materials such as silk and cashmere. They also offer delivery and removal of the old mattresses.
SleepOne Mattress Superstore also fights nightmares with several guarantees. For example, their staff will refund 110% of the difference in price if customers find the same mattress sold for less. They also exchange mattresses for up to a year (only charging a redelivery fee) and offer a rehabilitation program for reformed boogeymen.
In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of “hard-to-find tools,” and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone’s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.