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 family that owns and operates Shea Couture Bridal takes pleasure in getting to know each bride-to-be. It guides guests through its boutique, which includes a large selection of wedding gowns—many priced at less than $2,000—crafted by designers such as Justin Alexander and Allure. Shoppers can also find tiaras, veils, and bridesmaid dresses.
Direct Tools Factory Outlet supplies handypeople with new and reconditioned power tools and hardware at heavily whittled prices. The emporium stocks items that have been discontinued, bear slight factory blemishes or unique birthmarks, or were simply manufactured in excess. Direct Tools Factory Outlet carries big-name brands such as Hoover, Ryobi, and Homelite, and backs products with a warranty that lasts, like a turtle's commute to work, for at least a year.
As a sports-nutrition store and smoothie shop, Sunset Smoothie blends fruit and health boosters into tasty performance drinks. These smoothies suit many kinds of diet and exercise plans by serving up both low-fat and muscle-building treats that come in a variety of sweet flavors. Even the indulgent Cheat Days smoothies use Splenda in lieu of sugar, sweetening flavors including banana split and cookies ‘n’ cream. Lacto-sensitive sippers can indulge in allergen-free soy smoothies blended with ice and fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. Extras pulled from the supplement side of the store enhance smoothies with Muscle Milk, creatine, and vitamin B-12, resulting in a more fortifying drink than Hulk Hogan’s upper-lip sweat.