For more than 60 years, Toys“R”Us has been helping kids be kids and grown-ups to revisit their childhoods by providing one of the largest selections of top-brand toys, electronics, games and everyday baby essentials. Founder, Charles Lazarus, revolutionized the toy business by modeling his stores after supermarkets, providing a variety of options to suit varying ages and interests and offering customers to help themselves and have fun in the process. Today, that sense of playfulness is evident at nearly 600 stores in the United States alone, including a flagship location in Times Square where kids are greeted by a 60-foot Ferris wheel, a 5-ton animatronic T-Rex, and a life-sized, 4,000-square-foot Barbie house.
Beyond everybody's favorite bikes, trains and video games, each Toys“R”Us store keeps its shelves stocked with the season’s must-have toys as well as nostalgic standbys that never go out of style. Time-tested brands such as LEGO, Radio Flyer, NERF and Fisher-Price share the shelves with an expansive selection of electronics for older kids, including Wii U and tablets. And though the company has inspired generations of boys and girls to try their hardest not to grow up, it also strives to ensure budding brains develop right on track by devoting a significant portion of its stores to “smart-play” with a wide selection of electronic learning toys and software.
Toys“R”Us—whose extended family of brands includes Babies“R”Us and FAO Schwarz—has earned a number of awards and recognitions through the years, including a spot on Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2012. The company has also drawn considerable recognition for its expansive charitable efforts, which include partnerships with the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Save the Children. This year also marks the tenth consecutive year that the company has partnered with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to collect new, unwrapped toys and monetary donations in its stores to benefit the organization.
The Phone Doctors have heard many reasons for phones being damaged—from customers dropping them on the ground to customers using them as a projectile after a mountain lion showed up on their front porch. In light of these and the many other stories the Phone Doctors' repair team hears, its techs continually train to keep pace with the rapidity of mobile-device releases and the steady stream of repair orders they receive daily from customers across the United States.
Experienced with virtually every manufacturer and carrier, the technicians perform repairs that range from touchscreen replacement to water-damage recovery. In addition to in-house repairs, they also furnish gadget owners with do-it-yourself kits that include specialized tools such as pentalobe screwdrivers and needles and thread. Further resources include online repair guides and patented magnetic ScrewMats, earning Phone Doctors praise on TreeHugger for "empowering people to do their own repairs."
In addition to its six retail locations, which accept both drop-off and mail-in orders, Phone Doctors spans to about 20 affiliate repair centers across the United States, each staffed by technicians trained by the Phone Doctors' team.
Sam's Club works with a worldwide network of suppliers to find in-demand products and premium food items, and then purchases them in large quantities to cut down on costs. The result is an average 33% savings over traditional retail prices. To date, the club counts more than 47 million amongst its ranks, spread across more than 600 club locations.
Sam's Club members often find something surprising in club—with values on anything from holiday decor to diamond earrings. The festive savings carry through all departments, as a trip through a typical Sam's Club reveals home decor, Energy Star–qualified TVs and computers, and pet supplies. In other aisles, associates hand out samples of food from name brands and the club's proprietary grocery lines. In-club pharmacies and optical centers fill discounted medications and fit members with eyewear.
Perhaps most surprising about Sam's Club is that, despite the ever-growing number of clubs, the company stays tied to its local communities. In 2012 alone, Sam's Club donated $106.4 million to various causes, such as helping small business owners secure loans. The clubs also host free health screenings and the occasional special event, such as weight-loss seminars and business boot camps. But the company also tackles some of the global issues on its members' minds. As of 2010, Sam's Club began offsetting 20% of its energy use from wind power—only a small step towards its ultimate goal of harnessing 100% renewable energy, just like an extension cord plugged back into itself.
Owner Dewayne Convirs concocted a vision of an action wonderland, plugged that vision into an amplifier of ambition and excitement, then cranked that knob up to 12 and blew out the walls for the authentic outdoor sharpshooting experience that is D-Day Adventure Park. Home to “Oklahoma D-Day,” called the world’s largest paintball event, D-Day Adventure Park provides heat packers with 100 acres of rampant rapid-fire terrain. Grab a platoon of roughnecks and polychromatically plow down an infantry of musketeers with washable paint across painstakingly crafted battlefields designed to resemble famous raids and historical conflicts. Armed with a D-Day-supplied gun, protective mask, 200 paintballs, and one hopper full of high-powered air, agile assassins can take to the field for a full day of score settling and foliage redecorating. D-Day Adventure Park also provides free camping and showers for guests. This Groupon is valid Mondays through Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Kick'n Paintball Park's staffers organize games at hyperball, airball, and concept fields—including an indoor facility that stays open year round. At the start of each game, these spaces transform into simulated battlefields where acrylic paintballs rain down like pennies on Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Players dash across the indoor turf or outdoor grassy terrain, taking refuge behind towering pipes or red-and-blue inflatables. As the last paintball falls, players depart the field guilt-free as Kick'n Paintball Park uses 100% biodegradable paints. Away from the fields, staffers repair gear and sell new equipment within a pro shop. Paintball markers line the walls, and shelves hold ample supplies of carbon dioxide.