Before Comfort One Shoes' sole experts are allowed to fit a single shoe to a customer's foot, they must graduate from Comfort One University and undergo a mentorship process. It's only then that they can help shoppers find their desired footwear, whether it be lace-up Ziera boots, On running shoes with CloudTec technology, or Thierry Rabotin shoes, handmade without uncomfortable, rigid components. Alongside men's and women's footwear, the shop stocks an assortment of bags and accessories such as colorful iPhone cases from Triple C Designs that protect phone exteriors and conceal scratches from the last time you transformed into a werewolf.
Comfort One Shoes also seeks to better the world through creative philanthropic efforts, such as collecting 25,000 shoes for those without and offering their employees half their pay and time off to volunteer in the community. Perhaps such initiatives are part of the reason Comfort One Shoes earned the National Shoe Retailers Association’s Retailer of the Year Award in 2011.
It's a big leap from the bustle of an athletic field to the solitude of a darkroom, but Calumet Photographic made the transition seamlessly more than 70 years ago. From its origins as a Chicago sporting-goods store, the company evolved into a one-stop shop for cameras and darkroom equipment and eventually into an innovator of photographic technology. In the 1960s, Calumet's most brilliant minds were behind the development of the Caltar large-format-lens line and nitrogen burst film.
Today, Calumet Photographic continues to manufacture and sell professional photographic products and software across the globe, boasting more than 25 retail stores throughout the US and Europe. Their shops abound with both new and used high-quality cameras and equipment, rental gear, and knowledgeable technicians eager to help customers find the right equipment for the job. The company’s extensive online catalog enables shoppers to purchase equipment from around the world and have it shipped directly to their home, studio, or mall photo booth they’ve claimed as a studio.
The readers of Washingtonian magazine voted the family-owned Princess Jewelers "Best Jewelry Store" in 2008, winning the company well-deserved notice for the careful, custom craftsmanship of its talented, certified jewelers. Two elegant showrooms display engagement and wedding rings set with diamonds or semiprecious stones, as well as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and cufflinks that make a glittery gift for significant others or surprised trick-or-treaters. The company imports a large inventory of loose gemstones and diamonds, which may be fashioned into original designs or replicas of pieces in photographs, and jewelers can also restore damaged pieces to their previous beauty and wearability. On-site graduates of the Gemological Institute of America are capable of identifying legitimate gemstones by scent alone, using their bling-based expertise to appraise customers' new and antique jewelry and assist them through each step in the selection of a quality showpiece.
At Eyeland Eyecare Center and Luxoptics, friendly optical experts sharpen fields of vision and protect precious eye parts with thorough examinations and an arsenal of contacts, sunglasses, and traditional frames. Frames from labels such as Prada and Burberry add a touch of stylish class to pupils, and the store?s sophisticated software precalculates benefits from nearly all available insurance plans. After working alongside his brother at Eyeland for more than three decades, Robert Bojarski founded Luxoptics, a newly christened sister store built around the concept of outfitting clientele with modern, high-end eyewear and making the monocle popular again. Frames from Bulgari and Ray Ban grace faces with fresh designs, and selections from Persol complement patients? heads with styles that blend old and new. Luxoptic?s sunny, high-ceilinged studio welcomes visitors with pristine white decor, and the in-house lab grinds lenses to computer-calculated specifications.
In 1986, Nancy Criswell set up her full-service bead store on the second floor of the historic Olney House in Olney, Maryland. At the time, she had little idea that the niche craft would soon explode in popularity, but after the meteoric growth of beading and the increasing number of local businesses willing to accept shiny baubles as payment, Criswell was able to expand her business to its present location—a 9,000-square-foot showroom in Rockville stuffed with over 18,000 different varieties of beads. There, the walls glisten with corrugated and smooth 14-karat gold spheroids, beads of sterling silver, and plenty of wire, findings, tools, and pliers to string them all together. Regular classes from nationally recognized teachers such as Stephanie Everett and Jessie Stern help students turn their hobby into an art form with instruction in topics ranging from chain mail and bead stitching to wirework.
For 50 years, the owners and staffers of Plaza Artist Materials & Picture Framing have encouraged the artists of their community. They visit local fairs and set up booths for kids to color and craft, and they do workshops, demos, and classes for artists of every age. As their name implies, they also outfit art makers of all skill levels with top-of-the-line materials, such as Gamblin oil paints, Prismacolor pens and markers, and custom frames perfect for saving favorite art pieces or memorializing a sibling's failure to color within the lines.