Like most success stories, Leader's Casual Furniture didn't start at the top. Founded in a single west Florida show room in 1971, the company now boasts 19 retail show rooms, a 150,000-square-foot distribution center, and an ever-increasing selection of rattan, wicker, and patio furniture. Upon browsing the virtual show room, visitors find rattan dining sets, beds, and entertainment centers as well as wicker tables with stone or glass tops. Custom fabrics and tropical-themed pieces add personal flair to interiors or exteriors, and an online room plannerhelps customers get a feel for how chosen pieces will fit into their homes.
Shell Factory and Nature Park's 18-acre grounds hold diverse attractions for all ages, including a nature park with more than 350 animals, a seashell replica of All Saints Church, and the sprawling Doggy Heaven dog park. At the 2.5-acre nature park, visitors come face-to-face with animals from across the globe, including alligators, raccoons, Middle Eastern geckos, and indigenous aquatic life. Birds soar overhead in the aviary and tortoises roam freely, waiting for guests to feed them snacks and listen to their stories about growing up during the Hoover presidency. Children can ruffle the coats of goats and sheep at the petting farm or toss a gator biscuit to hungry 7'?9' alligators.
At the fun park, feed fish from inside a paddleboat, collide into one another on bumper boats, and compete in 18-hole games of mini-golf. The park?s Doggy Heaven abounds with open spaces in which pups can swim and run around; dogs are welcome into most attractions at the Shell Factory and Nature Park, including some of the various cafes, which serve dog treats alongside human eats.
The Shell Factory retail shop houses a stunning collection of seashells, coral, and fossils for visitors to take home. Its year-round Christmas shop houses yuletide collectables, even in the summer months. While on the premises, guests can ferret out pirate treasure at the Pirates' Cove or explore a large display of taxidermied animals.
The art masters behind Vino's Picasso throw pretentions aside during each of their painting sessions, where artists of all skill levels gather to express their creativity and make new friends. As students arrive with their favorite drinks in tow, they settle in amid lime-green walls dotted with finished paintings. Local artists pass out all necessary supplies?such as acrylic paints, brushes, canvases, and easels?and begin a lesson on a particular painting while offering tips as pupils complete their masterpieces. In addition to their instructed sessions, Vino's also offers open paint sessions, and private parties for brides-to-be and spies who just want to learn about painting. While artists wait for their paint to dry, they can peruse the Starving Artist's gallery and bar, where limited production wine and craft beers bask in the glow of paintings produced by local artists. Students are also welcome to purchase gifts or stock up on supplies.
Cars line up at the drive-thru window, where instead of bags of burgers and fries, staffers hand over bundles of glossy personal photos. Inside Creative Photo & Digital Imaging, digital techs convert media such as VHS tapes, records, and reels to DVD and CD, while across the store, photo experts transfer snaps onto album prints, museum-grade canvas wraps, and gifts such as coffee mugs and puzzles. Heirloom family portraits, ravaged by rips and sun damage, doff their imperfections in the photo-restoration lab, and an onsite portrait studio captures clans as they update their sweater sets through the years. Creative Photo & Digital Imaging also hosts photography classes on subjects from how to take better pictures on camera phones to the intricacies of digital SLR cameras.
Understanding that each customer has their own sense of style and aesthetic, the knowledgeable framers at The Great Frame Up strive to meet various needs through a wide assortment of frames and the latest technology. With the ability to craft one-of-a-kind frames, the team can also help customers discover a new way of framing their family portraits, artwork, or sports memorabilia. By consulting clients on the style of their home or office, the experts put their know-how and creativity to work in crafting a distinct frame for each space. To further assist customers, the framing specialists offer an online list of tips and trends.
At Grace and Shelly's Cupcakes, the Butterfinger isn't a candy bar?it's a cupcake. A vanilla one, to be precise, filled with peanut butter, frosted in cream-cheese frosting, and topped with chunks of its namesake candy. Creative cupcakes like these have earned the bakery myriad press mentions. The culinary team whips up new cupcakes daily, too, crafting fresh-baked treats in flavors ranging from banana to red velvet.