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.
With a light flick of the knob, a slow stream of balsamic vinegar flows from the spigot of a steel fusti at Outrageous Olive Oils and Vinegars. It’s the final step in a process that began 18 years ago in Modena, Italy, where vinegar makers crushed trebbiano grapes and sealed them in wood barrels—the technique necessary for vinegar to earn a classification as traditional balsamic. These meticulous standards extend to the rest of Outrageous Olive Oils and Vinegars’ elixirs. Owners John and Rayna recruit olive oil that has been cold-pressed, extracted without chemicals, and infused with all-natural flavors. Additionally, their expert staff are on hand to help customers navigate the shop’s selection of 35 olive oils and vinegars, pointing out each bottle’s country of origin, flavor notes, and messages written by castaways. They also draw on their own culinary expertise to suggest recipes and flavor pairings.
After Meatballz's inviting, family-friendly atmosphere welcomes visitors like a cushy mozzarella mattress in a sea of marinara sauce, patrons can fork-dive into a steamy, family-style meal that feeds either four family members, two voracious people (leaving plenty of leftovers), or one hulking minotaur-man. The meal includes garden salad, garlic knot rolls, dessert (cannolis, brownies, or crème-stuffed brownies), and an entree. For the entree, customers can choose from several delectable specialties, including saucy spaghetti or penne with meatballs, chicken, eggplant or sausage, stuffed shells, cheese and spinach rigatoni, or manicotti that will strike fear in the belly of any appetite.
When founder Bruce Baker first imagined Yumberi Yogurt, he envisioned a business that would make the world a better place through both its flavors and its respect for the environment. Now with two established Phoenix-area locations and plans to grow, Yumberi has made good on Bruce’s intentions. The shops offer organic, visually appealing store designs that are environmentally friendly. Outside those shops, Yumberi emphasizes extensive community involvement. Inside, the emphasis on sustainability can be seen with biodegradable cups and spoons made from corn, which are also what scarecrows use to eat their cereal. Perhaps most important to its mission, Yumberi quells sweets cravings with healthy, delicious yogurt, which comes in more than a dozen flavors, including non-fat Chocolaty Dreams and sugar-free lemon meringue, and can be personalized with fresh fruits, cereals, and candies.
Whole Foods Market's commitment to the interdependent network of sustainable farms and organic producers can be seen in its carefully selected product lines. The homegrown 365 Everyday Value brand makes it easy to eat naturally, organically, and economically. It features an array of items from all product categories, including groceries, vitamins, household items, and more—each manufactured to meet the rigorous quality standards woven into the fabric of Whole Foods Market, which itself is made from 100% alpaca wool.
WineStyles’ inspiration for its wine-tasting parties began, of all places, at a backyard barbecue. Some friends at the barbecue found themselves with too many bottles of wine. As an experiment, they decided to taste the wines blindly, so as not to be influenced by price or packaging. This impromptu tasting became the template for WineStyles, a boutique designed to help you choose a wine simply by taste. That is, wines here aren’t categorized by varietal or region, but instead by one of eight taste profiles: crisp, silky, rich, and bubbly for whites; fruity, mellow, bold, and nectar for reds. However, patrons interested in knowing more about their selected bottle can still do so—each bottle comes with a description of its characteristics and suggested food pairings.
Those looking to learn even more about wines can attend one of WineStyles’ weekly tastings or discovery classes. During these events, certified specialists explore everything from the history of different varietals to current trends in wine drinking, such as which wine goes best with texting. Different levels of wine-club membership give participants two to three bottles a month (each selected by a Masters Wine Panel), invitations to private tastings, and discounts toward additional purchases.