In 2003, Cathy Bates founded Practical Solutions to help busy people make better use of their surroundings and their time. Today, her consultants meet with clients to get rid of clutter, develop an organizational system, and reduce stress.
Scattered across nine states, Mini U Storage's secure facilities make frequent cameos on the reality TV show Storage Wars. At each location, rows of storage units in a vast range of sizes house personal goods, business items, and vehicles. Specialty climate-controlled units can help preserve sensitive heirlooms or souvenirs from historic snowball fights. The Mini U Storage staff further assists clients in the moving process by offering complimentary rental trucks, along with boxes, moving supplies, and locks for purchase.
Sit 'n Sleep's friendly staff of sleep consultants take slumber seriously, spending months to learn the ins and outs of sleep health, mattress selection, and customer service. With their extensive expertise, these wink whisperers help snoozers find the perfect person-size pillow on which to repose or languidly mispronounce French poetry; choose from a panoply of twin, full, queen, king, and Cal king varietals. Guests can find restful vibes manifested in a bevy of mattress brands, from Sealy to Simmons, and types, from memory foam to latex.
William Edwards Photography's studio, open in the Antelope Valley for more than 25 years, is really part studio, part playground. Outside, a tire swing hangs on a tree and a fire engine waits for kids to hop aboard it, and families can pose for natural-looking pictures on the portrait sets that occupy the studio's portrait park, such as country porch or a grassy area with a pond. But the team shoots portraits indoors too, snapping formal portraits, families posed around their beloved dog, babies napping in rug-lined baskets, or high school seniors preparing for college.
During public skate sessions at SJCH Ice Center of Bakersfield, a SMG managed facility, staffers give experienced skaters a wide berth, but stay on hand to assist novices with the basics, including lacing up their skates and getting back up after taking a tumble on the ice.
Instruction continues at the skating school, where students of all levels and ages can enhance their skating skills during private lessons or 12-person classes with 12 free public skating sessions and progress reports after their first month. The climate-controlled center—always kept at below 60 degrees—also hosts 14-week youth hockey seasons and three divisions of adult hockey league, which accommodate recreational to top-tier players.
Along with action on the rink, SJCH Ice Center of Bakersfield keeps its pro shop stocked with figure skating and hockey apparel. The in-house technicians can spruce up skates with repair and sharpening services. After hockey games or skating practice, guests can reenergize with pizza, popcorn, and hot chocolate from the Slap Shot snack bar, which entertains visitors with video games such as Super Mario Goes Ice Fishing.
Named one of Parents magazine's Top 10 Birthday Chains in 2010, Color Me Mine's international franchise of DIY ceramics studios cater to an older crowd as well. Hundreds of unadorned ceramic pieces—including vases, flatware, and busts of Elvis—await the attentions of muses of kids and their keepers alike, as do glazes in earthy tones and bright crimsons to frighten bulls away from china cabinets. Guests follow simple step-by-step instructions that leave plenty of room for creative expression. When painters are satisfied with their work, the professional kiln-workers help glaze and fire it for them before customers retrieve the finished piece a few days later.