Experienced framers Barry Stahl and Bob Clayton built Big Picture Framing from scratch in 2000, holding meetings around an old card table as construction roared around them. Today, framers at 15 area locations craft custom frames to display artwork, photographs, and record sleeves, and shadow boxes protect three-dimensional items such as ballet slippers, macaroni art, or a swarm of wasps. Patrons can dictate all design choices, choosing from metal and wooden frames in a multitude of colors and styles, or ask for recommendations from one of Big Picture Framing's resident experts. Big Picture Framing also stocks pre-framed art, prints, and posters to spruce up bare-walled homes or a drab doghouse.
One of the East Coast's best-known Members-only wholesale retailers, BJ's serves more than six million Members in more than 200 clubs as far west as Ohio. Within these sprawling locations, BJ's helps provide more selections to savvy shoppers looking to knock out most of their errands in a single stop. In the same visit, Members can stock up on economy-sized groceries?including USDA choice meats, farm-fresh produce, and everyday essentials?grab name-brand electronics, and even plan a vacation through BJ's Travel. Each service makes up a single part of BJ's well-rounded retail experience, but simplifying shopping isn't BJ's only goal; in 2012 alone, the company donated more than $2.2 million to charitable organizations.
Picture Works is a full-service framing store with an expansive selection of frames, mats, and glass that turns ordinary memorabilia into wall-worthy works of art. Display snapshots from weddings, first birthdays, and obedience-school graduations with 16"x20" customized pieces featuring acid-free matting ($36), foam core backing ($10), and 1-inch wooden frames ($74). 32"x40" posters of your 10 favorite hair bands can be enclosed in metal ($89.99) or wooden ($119) frames, adding a touch of professionalism to glam-metal shrines. Precut mats and frames can enhance paintings and diplomas, and neglected rec rooms can be decorated with framed jerseys ($299+) once worn by Olympic table-tennis champion Jan-Ove Waldner.
Founded by John McCue in 1933, McCue Garden Center has passed down through three generations of tree tenders and plant whisperers. Now, 79 years later, the family's center has blossomed to include two locations: the garden center in Woburn, and McCue's Flower Outlet in Billerica. Along with a knowledgeable staff, the McCue family helps visitors at each of the locations select healthy flowers, shrubs, and trees from the nursery or organic soils and fertilizer from the store, and oversees an adjoining florist shop, which churns out colorful arrangements and lovely long-stemmed roses daily. They update the store's ample inventory to suit the seasons, with selections such as statuary, flowers, and vegetable plants in the summer and fresh balsam Christmas trees, wreaths, and poinsettia-shaped snow cones in the winter. In addition to celebrating the earth's constant revolution with a rotating array of seasonally appropriate plants, they host a wealth of holiday festivities, from October's corn maze to spring's Easter-egg hunt.
The charming window displays of Sweet Thoughts draw customers into the cozy gift shop, which stocks a wide variety of items, from housewares to chocolates. Stock up on jars of handmade French mustards, pasta and pesto from Tuscany, pickled beets from a New Hampshire farm, or smoked sea salt from the coast of Maine, or mix and match items into a gourmet gift basket. The store is an ideal stop before a housewarming party, since visitors will find wines, serving accessories, glassware, home-grown art, craft beer, and gourmet gifts.