Alan J. Gardner opened his Salem factory in 1933, winning over generations of loyal customers with custom-made and odd-sized mattresses in a wide range of styles. Massachusetts-made pallets support sleepers with hand tufted construction and fluffy cotton fillings catered specifically to each client's specifications. The company's direct manufacturer-to-customer supply chain erases the influence of bothersome middlemen or arrogant, cigar-chomping mattress barons. Sleepers select from a variety of comfy cushion styles, such as latex, plush top, tufted, or pocket coils, with options for all-natural materials such as Joma wool and layers of thick cotton-knit fabric.
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.
Northeast Nursery Garden Center aids lawn and flower-bed caregivers in everything from water management to landscape lighting, all while offering a litany of gardening goods and a vast catalog of yard-sprucing plants. Beautify lawns with the tranquil petals of endless summer hydranges ($29.99+), or give gardens a smoldering look with knock out roses ($26.99+). Northeast Nursery serves 11 bagged mulch varieties ($4.99–$19.99/2 cubic feet and up) to sustain life in growing stems, as well as inorganic accents such as regular black cobblestones ($5.99/140 pallets), polished pebbles ($39.99/50 lb.), and offers perennial, annual, and fruiting plants, as well as a miniature Mick Jagger–shaped scarecrows and gourds to scare away pests. The gardening emporium also boasts tools and fertilizers to help ease the planting process, and a certified horticulturalist will be on hand at all times to field lawn-care questions.
Dedicated to keeping residential and commercial outposts outfitted with handsome, well-made lighting, Shiplights stocks its shelves with lights and hardware that have been featured everywhere from the New York Yacht Club to aboard ships in the Royal Caribbean Cruises' fleet. The store specializes in nautical lighting whose classic design, sturdy construction, and miniature lighthouse keepers transform spaces into sleek, ship-like surrounds. A selection of custom finishes ranging from pewter to satin copper enable patrons to personalize their lighting, and a collection of nautical furniture adds an air of maritime refinement.
Designer Bath and Salem Plumbing Supply, which Northshore Magazine editors and readers voted as the best bath supplies store in the North Shore area, equips homeowners with a vast assortment of kitchen and bathroom furnishings from dozens of brands, including Dornbracht, Duravit, and Fairmont. Contemporary designs and classic models dot a 4,500-square-foot showroom, where a knowledgeable staff helps customers select the polished chrome towel bar ($34) or two-robe bathroom hook ($15) that best matches their lucky hubcap. An American Standard single-lever kitchen faucet expels water through a sprayer ($75), and a Grohe showerhead unleashes jets of moisture from a 6-inch-wide chrome disk ($63). Two levels of magnification power on a double-sided Kimball & Young vanity makeup mirror ($107) provide an up-close view for poring over pores or communicating face-to-face with the tiny pilots in your eyeballs. Designer Bath and Salem Plumbing Supply does not provide installation.