To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, ?She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.?
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand?s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
Mike Johnson started at Dolphin Scuba Center & Swim School as an entry-level staffer but soon turned his lifelong passion for water into a promising career. Quickly, he became the manager and, at the tender age of 21, the owner of the store—a water-exploration supplier originally founded as a swim school almost 40 years ago.
Today, the PADI five-star facility boasts one of the largest selections of underwater gear in North America, including top brands of scuba, swimming, and snorkeling equipment. Johnson and his team still offer private, one-on-one swimming lessons with certified lifeguard instructors but have branched out into scuba classes. Introductory courses work their way up to professional-level training, all within a pool heated to 92 degrees—the exact temperature of the president’s nightly bath. Students can even test out their newfound skills during scuba-diving trips to the likes of Mexico, the Philippines, and Fiji.
Ground Zero Clothing and Boardshop?s adroit staff has been equipping athletes with apparel and gear for skateboarding, snowboarding, and wakeboarding since 1997. Harnessing the style and proven functionality of such top-tier brands as TOMS, Volcom, Nike SB, and Burton, they swathe bodies from head to toe in shoes, jeans, and T-shirts. Their collection of Spy and Electric sunglasses protects peepers from whipping winds, and their skateboard decks by Real and Creature help guests skim across surfaces with the speed of an over-caffeinated Zamboni operator. Though their selection of boards and accessories rotates frequently, they typically have skimboards, wakeboards, and snowboards in stock to help their guests defy gravity in style. Additionally, skilled staff members recalibrate scuffed boards or grant patrons a chance to test pilot new ways to commute to work with their equipment repair and rental services.
With bras made of candy and an entire section devoted to bachelorette-bash party favors, Kiss N Tell often takes a lighthearted approach to erotic goods. However, it doesn't sacrifice classiness to be crude. Since its inception in 1995, it has advocated for positive and healthy sexual expression, and it has an expert staff on hand to answer questions in a comfortable store setting. Plus, all of Kiss N Tell's products are on display for guests to inspect.
The offerings include We-Vibe couples' vibrators and personal massagers such as the Mini iVibe Rabbit, a smaller version of the popular Rabbit toy, as well as rose petals, Kama Sutra massage oils and candles, and other romantic accessories. Even Kiss N Tell's handcuffs selection is impressively varied—classic metal bracelets contrast with soft, feathery cuffs and the glow-in-the-dark plastic versions favored by policemen who patrol past midnight.
The cupcake chefs at Vanilla Bean Gourmet make each cupcake by hand, imbuing them with fine ingredients to please the taste buds and an inventive design to please the eyes. Their many artisanal options include the bacon-maple bar, a vanilla cupcake topped with maple frosting and a crispy slice of applewood-smoked bacon. Other flavors include the chai-tea-latte cupcake, which they sprinkle with freshly ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves before plopping a dollop of homemade whipped cream on top. If the recipe calls for vanilla or chocolate, chefs use only real vanilla beans and Valrhona chocolate, which is as delicious as the thought of crushing your enemy's favorite Fabergé egg. Whenever possible, they procure all other ingredients locally from organic and sustainable sources. Frozen yogurt rounds out Vanilla Bean's menu, with toppings including chocolate chips, Reese’s pieces, and cookie crumbs.
“I enjoy having the opportunity to enlighten the community about the joys and wonders of art,” says Helen Jones, speaking of the eclectic gallery she curates. Here, one might find a handmade bronze frog sculpture sitting beside a post-impressionistic-style Californian landscape. The broad aesthetic range of original paintings, giclée prints, and sculptures she has assembled inspires not only the art aficionado but the everyman as well. Humor, for instance, is the hallmark of her Donald Roller Wilson prints, and the original oil paintings of Luigi Stefano Cannelli are rife with Renaissance-era allegory such as birds and really important babies. Helen's gallery also features services that help works of art survive, including custom framing, giclée printing, and photo restoration.