In 1976, Joan Barnes—a Californian mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play & Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children’s’ cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beck to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
Cruddy duds transform into eye-fetching attire at Palm Center Cleaners, a family-owned facility devoted to abolishing stains and smoothing out wrinkles. Palm Center’s crew can scour the surfaces of formal and casual garb, treating shirts, pants, and suits to a shrink-free cleansing drier than a lecture on how to lecture. Gentle cleansings of suede and leather are also available, as are alterations and shirt pressing.
Though many things have changed during the L.A. County Fair’s 90 years, the one constant has been the large crowds it attracts with the classic sights and sounds of an outdoor carnival. Lights race past as carnival rides fly overhead, and riffs from battling bands carry through the air. Stingray Island, a new attraction in 2012, brings fair-goers face to fin with octopuses, schools of shrimp, and stingrays swimming inside a 17,000-gallon salt-water tank. Inside FairView Farms, fair-goers can see firsthand what it takes to work a farm by watching live workers tend to pastures and baby animals at the nursery. In 2011, more than 1,490,000 people explored the fairgrounds, making it the second-highest attendance year recorded outside of 1991, when everyone showed up with their stunt double.
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.
With more than 35 facilities spread across Arizona and California, StorAmerica helps homeowners, renters, and business owners manage their living and working spaces with handy self-storage units, huge 14? moving trucks, and safe stowing spaces for RVs, cars, and boats. Before freeing up valuable square footage in their domiciles, clients zero in on their exact storage-space requirement with a 3-D calculator, ensuring that every inch of storage is put to use. In addition to helping customers haul and stock cargo, California Arizona Storage Centers recycles computers, TVs, copiers, and other electronics through its All Green Electronics Recycling program, diverting more than 250,000 pounds of waste from landfills since 2010, and staving off the imminent nanobot uprising for at least a few more years.
The cleansmiths of West Covina Cleaners coax stains from dingy garments with eco-friendly practices, earning the dirt-fighting shop the title of Certified Master Drycleaner from Sanitone. Customers can drop off jam-smeared sport coats ($8.05) along with stress-stained blouses ($7.65), dresses ($13.05), and parachute pants ($6.85) 24 hours a day, seven days a week with convenient stop-in, drive-thru, and drop-box options. Shirts craving a sudsy cocktail can have their thirsts quenched with a traditional laundering service performed at the 20,000-square-foot facility ($2.75). West Covina Cleaners caters to the neglected wardrobes of busy clothes owners with a free pickup-and-delivery service available within a 15-mile radius, preventing dissatisfied laundry piles from taking houseplants hostage.