Sticks sprung from humble origins when, in 1992, Sarah Grant began carving ornaments and candlesticks from birch, poplar, and driftwood in a small studio in Des Moines. As her work began to attract national interest and demand for it grew, Sarah enlisted the aid of other local artists and expanded her inventory to include handcrafted heirloom-quality furniture, whimsical sculptures, and intricate keepsakes.
Today, the artists’ work is showcased in more than 100 galleries across the country. Their installation projects have even decorated the walls of Blank Children’s Hospital, the Animal Rescue League of Central Iowa, and the student center at Iowa State University.
Sticks artists can often be spotted by the shores of local rivers, gathering driftwood for their work. They assemble the wood into custom-designed tables, beds, and armoires within their spacious, light-filled studio before painting them with colorful, whimsical designs, from smiling suns and moons to lush landscapes. The versatile artists even take their tools and paintbrushes to homes, businesses, and underground mad-scientist labs to craft custom art installations and interiors.
There's a reason why the sandwiches at Keller's Deli and Cafe have brought local customers and food critics back for seconds and thirds. Owner and head baker Cameron Keller studied artisan and sourdough baking at the French Culinary Institute in New York City, learning the ins and outs of classic European recipes. He begins his bordalais bread with a 100-year-old German sourdough starter to impart maximum flavor, and he tops the hot, chewy bread with deli meats. Of the house-brined corned-beef brisket, Cityview Food Dude Jim Duncan says, "No other corned beef in town compares for tenderness and flavor." And after biting into the thick slices of it on the reuben sandwich, the author of the Distilled Opinion food blog remarked, "I was amazed because I?d never had corned beef quite like this." Other sandwiches of note include the handcrafted meatloaf, which boasts ground beef and an apple-cider-vinegar tomato sauce. The outdoor patio is an ideal spot to read a book or construct a sun visor out of a baguette.
Once a small chain of Chicago-area hardware stores, Ace Hardware has evolved into a global franchise of more than 4,600 stores across 50 states and in more than 70 countries. Despite that span, customers might feel like each Ace was its own unique entity. Although each storefront carries many of the same popular items, each location is independent, allowing storeowners from New York City to Des Moines to offer goods tailored to the community?s needs. The inventory always includes a wide range of products, from trashcans to appliances and tools to complete tasks in the kitchen, garden, conservatory, ballroom, or billiard room of any home. Typically, patrons perusing the aisles will stumble upon well-known brand names, such as Black & Decker, Craftsman, and Stanley.
Rows of mattresses line the walls at Bedzzz 4 Less, inducing visions of uninterrupted naps or languid mornings spent sleeping in. Patrons can peruse slumber gear designed by brands such as Simmons, Serta, or Sealy, and can opt for features such as cooling gel, memory foam, or plush pillow-tops.
Since 1932, Lumbermen's family of businesses have aimed to fulfill their motto of bringing quality to life—expertly cutting stone for projects including the face of The Village of Ponderosa, PF Changs, Scheels, Fleming's, and a tiny fireplace for Barbie’s upscale dream house. Their most recent store, Fireplace and Stone Center, specializes in hardscaping materials as well as stone veneers for home and commercial façades. The center’s vast display area also boasts an array of outdoor-living merchandise, such as outdoor fireplaces, kitchens, and stylish patio furniture.
Meander beneath the leaves of the more than 30,000 trees that grow at Bentley Ridge Tree Farm & Nursery, and you’ll see pines and serviceberry bushes. The sprawling 30-acre farm is home to more than 20 different species of locally grown trees, along with five varieties of shrubs. A team of attentive farmers cares for this lush forest, paying special attention to the plants’ roots to ensure they grow to be healthy and strong.