All big movements start small, but many would be surprised to learn that Ten Thousand Villages—a nonprofit and retailer with 390 outlets nationwide—began out of a car trunk. In 1946, Edna Ruth Byler started the organization out of her car, taking a name from a quote by Mohandas Gandhi, who said, “India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages.” Her willpower and determination allowed her vision to grow into a nonprofit that today supports more than 130 artisans in 38 developing countries. These artisans' wares go on sale at the organization's nationwide retail outlets, which brim with items including jewelry, home decor, and refrigerator cozies.
Everything is made using environmentally friendly processes, and every artisan is paid a fair wage. The money raised from sales goes to supply the artisans—who might otherwise be unemployed or underemployed—with education, food, housing, and healthcare. The organization has risen to such stature that it won the People’s Choice Award for Green Business of the Year in 2005, and has acted as one of the founding members of the World Fair Trade Organization.
Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
Other items include dining tables, slumber-aiding bedroom items, as well as wall art and wall sculptures to distract guests from the person-shaped hole in the wall. The Sofa Company also specializes in build-your-own sofas, for which you can choose from any size, fabric, or configuration and put together the couch that floats around the sky in your dreams (around $600+).
FrameStore's craftsmen have created more than 250,000 custom frames in the store’s 35-year tenure, designing pieces that now adorn the walls of prestigious institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Ritz-Carlton, and the Walt Disney Company. Professional designers guide FrameStore’s clients through the 2,200 moulding options that can accent paintings and treasured items while adding style and elegance to rooms. The store’s craftsmen then fashion pieces to patron specifications, outfitting frames with classic or museum-quality glass that blocks UV rays from bleaching out images or censoring pictures of the moon. Every piece goes through a 16-point inspection before it is given to patrons, and the team averages a seven-day turnaround on all of its projects.
Sit 'n Sleep's friendly staff of sleep consultants take slumber seriously, spending months to learn the ins and outs of sleep health, mattress selection, and customer service. With their extensive expertise, these wink whisperers help snoozers find the perfect person-size pillow on which to repose or languidly mispronounce French poetry; choose from a panoply of twin, full, queen, king, and Cal king varietals. Guests can find restful vibes manifested in a bevy of mattress brands, from Sealy to Simmons, and types, from memory foam to latex.
After 95 years of business, Crown City Hardware has established itself as a beacon of high-quality hardware goods, offering more than 100,000 items and cultivating professional relationships with more than 600 suppliers. Perusing the general department preps homeowners for everyday household projects with Gorilla Glue Super Glue ($3.69), paintbrushes ($0.39+), and WD-40 ($7.79). Meanwhile, the builders' section at the store's back counter houses a host of popular reproductions and exclusive restoration hardware, including solid forged brass handrail brackets ($33.99), which offers stair-climbers support and stability, and Jeffersonian rain gauges ($189.99), which can measure the rainfall in backyards or the number of tears you’ve cried since Firefly was cancelled.