With its circle of cushy chairs and iron-wrought footstools, the sewing area at Sugar Land Yarn Company bears a striking resemblance to a pastoral living room, where yarns of all colors fill a bowl resting on the coffee table and cubbyholes lined along the walls. Shawls and scarves hang in display to inspire future knitting projects, and a library of patterns and manuals demonstrates various techniques, such as stringing together a baby sweater without bursting into tears of joy. The shop’s wool-wizards lead classes in a wide variety of topics, allowing beginners and experienced knitters to socialize as they create wearable and decorative soft goods.
Radio-controlled cars speed along the dirt path of twin, 20,000-square-foot off-road racetracks at RC Hobby Shop, spurred on by shouts of encouragement and furiously twisting thumbs. Too colossal to fit inside the building, the tracks embody RC Hobby Shop’s serious approach to having fun. Inside the 9,400-square-foot retail space, stacks of toys line the aisles and beckon kids and hobbyists with battery-operated modern gadgets and timeless classics such as yo-yos and board games. Model makers of every age can stoke their creative sparks with detailed modeling kits that reconstruct classic cars, elaborate train sets, and Lilliputian crime scenes.
An UrbanPass works as a sort of universal ticket to sporting events, musical performances, theater productions, and comedy shows throughout the city. The idea here is as simple as it is brilliant: venues go to UrbanPass when they have excess tickets, and the company passes those tickets on to its members for free. The lineup of events rotates and replenishes regularly, ensuring UrbanPass members a constant rotation of weekend activities and virtually no time to sit around and think about the plight of all those cute endangered species.
Inside Sherry Reese's contemporary sewing school and fabric boutique, sewers hone their skills through classes for all experience levels with an ample stock of on-trend fabrics and patterns. With a background in fashion design and a certification in sewing instruction, Reese has combined her passions for sewing and teaching to create a friendly learning environment that helps adults, teens, and opposable-thumbed goats to acquire both technical and artistic skills. Small class sizes foster a light-hearted atmosphere where students can learn at their own pace while building a community of enthusiastic stitchers.
For Meredith McCord, looking at a piece of pottery brings back decades worth of memories. McCord started The Mad Potter in 1998, and since those early days, she's used her kiln to immortalize countless special moments. She traveled to hospitals to capture the footprints of newborns, helped a young man create a dessert plate with the words "Will you marry me?" emblazoned across it, and auctioned off items for charity. Yet some of her fondest memories center on the day-to-day interactions with customers, specifically when they return to pick up their fired pieces and utter three words of amazement: "I did that?"
The Mad Potter has since expanded into three Houston-area locations, where children and adults come to paint their own works of art or create replicas of their ancient ancestors' garden gnomes. More than 500 bisqueware items line the shelves of each studio, including coffee mugs, plates, and figurines. Staffers then help visitors select from more than 54 available colors of paint and supply them with everything else they might need, including brushes and stencils. The staff can even take things over and create more intricate designs?while still consulting closely with the customer. Whatever route a person chooses, there's always time for a sip of wine or beer; the River Oaks location sells wine and beer while Bellaire and Woodway maintain a BYOB policy.
Beau Kisses kindly greets customers with a selection of sundry jewelry and home décor items. Visitors to the boutique can revel in novel prettifying devices, such as the Lady Primrose body brush with dusting silk ($30), a downy-soft delivery mechanism for a tincture of crushed marigold flowers, silk, and chamomile that leaves skin ready to steep in a cup of bedtime tea. For an olfactory flourish in the home and vehicle, the Tyler Candle Co. Glam Suite gift set ($22) completes romantic dinner-table preparations with a 3.4-ounce fragrant candle, which collaborates with a room spray, 4-ounce detergent, and Autoglam car freshener to please all manner of nostril. Force sullen earlobes to sparkle with a pair of 14-karat gold-plated pink agate earrings ($60) by Austin-based designer Kendra Scott, or step into an elegant pair of Yellowbox Pansy bronze sandals ($72) for a trot along the beach or stroll atop Martian sand dunes.