Tiny legs scamper across Lone Star Bounce Town's 9,000-square-foot floor, bounding from one cushy inflatable to the next and pausing before a gallery of kid-friendly toys and games. Disney-inspired bounce houses populate the open space, including new plush slides and domiciles that pay homage to the bubbly heroes of Toy Story 3, Winnie the Pooh, and Dante's Inferno. Tykes hone their hand-eye coordination by shooting hoops on the inflatable basketball court, cracking plastic balls off baseball tees, or threading straws into juice boxes in the Lone Star Cafe. A special subsection designed for toddlers, Lone Star's Tiny Town, features scaled-down playhouses, toy cars, and colorful, bouncy balls.
The clatter of foosball and air-hockey tables makes a steady drumbeat, over which drifts the sounds of an arcade—the happy digital babble of a modem dreaming. Ten leather couches with a full view of the children accommodate parents as they surf free WiFi and enjoy coffee from the café.
In more than 1,112 stores worldwide, Edible Arrangements' Fruit Experts arrange pieces of premium fruit in stunning displays for all occasions. Customers can customize their order to suit any occasion, receiving chocolate-dipped fruit such as pineapples, granny-smith apples, and juicy strawberries that, unlike the sodas found in most mummies' crypts, don't contain any preservatives. Fruit Experts can dip fruit in gourmet semisweet or white chocolate. For birthdays and anniversaries, chocolate wielders can personalize bouquets with gifts such as plush teddy bears and mylar balloons.
For over 30 years, 3 Day Blinds' technicians have sift through samples and unreel measuring tapes during in-home consultations, custom-fitting abodes with blinds, shutters, and shades. They handcraft and cut treatments such as faux wood blinds, vertical blinds, and flexcell honeycomb blinds that reduce light and are energy efficient. As they tailor-make each order, the staffers dress windows of all shapes and sizes, from an arch above a doorway to a misshapen wormhole in the attic. All of 3 Day Blinds’ products come with a limited lifetime warranty. After clients have made a selection, the team shows up just two days later to install the new window dressings or let customers do it themselves.
Having resolved at a young age to pursue his passion for green building, Jeff Kaplan created the Urban Land Institute's Young Leaders Program when he was just 21 years old. In late 2007, Jeff started New Living, a green building and home store whose high environmental standards earned the shop a B Corporation certification. Today, New Living sells exclusively eco-friendly products from ethical businesses, stimulating the local green economy while making green materials more affordable and accessible. Staff members passionate about responsible consumerism often help customers interested in repurposing and refinishing items. Kaplan's efforts at revitalizing Houston's small businesses and affinity for wearing capes earned him the title of Green Hero from the U.S. Green Building Council.
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.
A graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, Everyday Photo Class–owner Lana Kelley now helps students in her native Houston expand their photographic possibilities with a distilled version of her own scholarship and experience. Her custom curriculum breaks down the path to digital artistry into four two-hour classes—The Basics, Techniques, Perfection, and Picture Editing—that grant her students greater creative control as they learn to harness their cameras’ advanced features and change lenses with their feet.