Each day, the bookkeepers at the two Mr. Mike's Used Books stores shelve hundreds of new titles. They procure many of their titles through customer sales, resulting in a constantly changing spread of bestsellers, eclectic titles, and forgotten gems. Titles range in genre and style with nonfiction African American tomes facing young-adult tales and westerns secretly pining for the damsels on nearby romance novel covers. Books start at just $0.99 to help people stock up before heading back to school or shipping off to a tropical island where they may only bring three items.
Gifts with a Heart abets guiltless gift giving with recycled, natural, and fair-trade merchandise handmade by local and international artists. In return for producing their wares, these artisans, many of whom have no other way to earn a living in their country, receive a fair wage and a marketplace. Patrons can sleep soundly after purchasing a gift basket for a loved one ($10–$250) and can deck the halls with Christmas ornaments, nativities, and wreaths ($5–$75). Wrists, fingers, and necks glimmer with the jewelry selection's sparkly baubles ($1.50–$65) and pearls ($100–$150), and a selection of local art pieces ($10–$400), including oils and colorful canvas creations, make walls prettier than a model dipped in liquid gold.
Arrive early and work up a thirst by booth-hopping from vendor to vendor and admiring the similarly alcohol-powered vehicles at Sir Walter Chevrolet's alternative-fuel vehicle showcase, or saunter up to the gate at 2 p.m. and claim your delicious sampling of prizes. The beer garden will showcase eight beers of different types, tones, and tastes (call for more information about selection), allowing for a pleasant smattering of malted deliciousness. There's no limit on Groupons, so grab a dozen and stage a beer-garden reunion of a little-league team or sixth-grade home-economics class.
The educators behind Mad Science propagate a love of science, technology, engineering, and math through programs that immerse kids in exploration. Rather than standing at a lectern and droning on about static electricity or the life cycle of a cootie, the educators meet kids at eye level for experiments that actively instill principles of questioning and observation. Although their methods are fun, they're also meaningful?lessons align with STEM objectives and enrich classroom science curriculums. Scientists typically host workshops at school facilities, but also can transport their rockets, lasers, and slime to birthday parties and inquiry-based field trips.
All big movements start small, but many would be surprised to learn that Ten Thousand Villages—a nonprofit and retailer with 70 stores nationwide—began out of a car trunk. In 1946, Edna Ruth Byler started the organization out of her car, taking a name from a quote by Mohandas Gandhi, who said, “India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages.”
Her willpower and determination allowed her vision to grow into a nonprofit that today supports more than 130 artisan groups in 37 developing countries. These artisans' wares go on sale at the organization's nationwide retail outlets, which brim with items including jewelry, stationery, and home decor. Everything is made using environmentally friendly processes, and every artisan is paid a fair wage. The money earned from sales goes directly to the artisans—who might otherwise be unemployed or underemployed—for financial help with education, food, housing, and healthcare.
The organization has risen to such stature that it won the People’s Choice Award for Green Business of the Year in 2005, and has acted as one of the founding members of the World Fair Trade Organization.
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.