As the mother of four busy kids, Darcy Meys understands how important it is to find a place where the whole family can come together for some fun, quality time. She opened Art Attack in order to provide other families with an affordable, kid-friendly space where can they meet to work on creative projects, such as painting pottery or fusing glass. Minimizing cost is the lack of studio fees—visitors simply pay for their bisque, then spend as much time as they need to paint it with a custom design, even if it means they have to come back another day to finish. And since schedules are sometimes hard to coordinate, parents can bring in their brood whenever everyone has free time, without making an appointment. But Art Attack isn't strictly for kids—BYOB ladies night out parties allow groups of adults to have the entire studio to themselves, provided they leave their imaginary friends at home.
In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of “hard-to-find tools,” and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone’s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.
The artisans at Express Frames preserve photos, artwork, and mementos with more than 2,000 custom and archival frames by brands such as Larson-Juhl and Roma Moulding. They cut mats with a precise, computerized process, and offer more than 10 types of glass—including nonreflective glass, museum-quality glass, and Plexiglas. The art in the shop dances off framed mirrors by Uttermost, and staffers display signed Steiner Sports prints of athletes hitting homeruns or successfully untangling a whole bunch of Christmas lights.
Since 1964, Guitar Center has paired musicians with guitars, keyboards, drums, Pro Audio gear, and necessary accessories, including DJ and recording equipment to capture newly made melodies. An iPad music-stand adaptor ($39.99) connects an iPad to a music stand, allowing musicians to access online programs and music apps on-stage, or to publicly dedicate a song to their online Scrabble partner. A clip-on tuner ($29.99) keeps notes pitch-perfect, and Guitar Center’s array of sheet music produces a wider variety of sounds than singing from a thesaurus, with options that include the C-surfing The Real Blues Book ($31.49). Stitch tighter harmonies by threading notes onto Slinky guitar strings ($3.79), or use the value of today's Groupon toward a larger purchase, such as the Epiphone Les Paul Special II guitar ($169–$179.99). Guitar Center rounds out its collection of gear with Pro Audio and DJ equipment, keyboards, and drums, allowing every band member or solo cymbal player to stock up on their chosen form of expression.
For 22 years, Richmond Music Center has provided the Staten Island community with an outlet for lessons, equipment, and services for musicians of all ages. Instructors with master’s degrees and professional careers lend their experience to new students and artists looking to improve, covering a wide variety of instruments for garage bands, school ensembles, and electric light orchestras. The center also believes in and practices the healing properties of music via music-therapy lessons for children and adults with disabilities or illnesses. A large collection of instruments, sheet music, and other necessities are available in the center’s shop, as well as repair and tuning services.
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.