Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop’s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M’s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
With spring spreading like a bag of spilled gravy, now is the ideal time to throw open the windows and get home-care projects underway. Pick up a Steel Grip six-piece screwdriver set for $8.49 and a whole bunch of screws, anchors, and bolts (prices vary), and you'll be ready to finally mount every buffalo nickel and steel penny in your coin collection. If you need to match paint to a favorite coverlet or choose a hue that complements a pleather recliner, each store offers a paint-matching service free of charge. Get keys made for $1.99 a pop, or clean a barnacle-encrusted carpet with the help of a carpet-cleaning machine ($30 a day to rent).
The friendly tool experts at Direct Tools Factory Outlet help customers to negotiate the store's huge inventory of new, reconditioned, and factory-blemished hardware from brands such as Ryobi, Homelite, and Milwaukee. Items are priced at a reduced rate, giving purchasers extra money and a brand-new stockpile of hardware to construct a time machine to go back and impress an early hominid with a Dirt Devil Scorpion 7-amp hand vacuum ($29.99) or a factory-blemished Ryobi One+ Lithium-Ion compact drill ($127.99). Each product carries a warranty of at least one year, even the reconditioned items, which had to get back in shape with pushups and burpees to earn their warranty ribbon.
Twisted Sisters Etc. adorns dapper dressers in boldly designed jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, and wallets. Rather than tattooing themselves in tiger print, Baton Rouge earlobes can boast local pride with earrings from the expansive collection of fleur-de-lis jewelry and accessories ($3.95–$36.95). Treasures bedecked with the iconic filigree also include a gleaming rhinestone-studded pendant. The boutique's bright crimson floor stretches between a vibrant medley of designer-inspired handbags, scarves ($7.95–$29.95), sunglasses ($10.95–$15.95), and wallets ($19.95–$29.95) dangling from sunny yellow walls. Corral unruly manes with hair baubles ($1.95–$24.95) such as gem-spangled butterfly clips, and hypnotize staring-contest opponents with a vivid pair of colored contact lenses.
TigerBait Sports Apparel's friendly staff stocks shelves with a panoply of officially licensed LSU products, helping Tiger backers sport their allegiance on their sleeves, hats, feet, and license plates for almost fifty years. Fans of all shapes, sizes, genders, and phyla can perform their favorite end-zone dance after scoring a $10 T-shirt, a fetching pair of Fleur de Tigre earrings ($25), or a baseball cap from a cache of logo-laden head gear that ranges from solid colors to army-fatigue designs ($10+). A bevy of swimwear and accessories, such as a 24-inch LSU beach ball ($15.95) and leather flip-flops ($31.95), allow aquatic buffs to gear up for the next trip to the pool or dunk tank. Or prepare for game-day bashes and raucous baby showers with a plethora of party supplies ($8+).