In business more than 70 years, Concept Shoe Repair boasts a staff of expert cobblers that skillfully mends faulty footwear and revitalizes worn leather. More than 1,400 square feet of shop space facilitates pristine shoeshines, leather-purse and -luggage repair, and sizing normal-size shoes for off-duty clowns. The cobblers on staff vary from first- to third-generation shoe repairmen with decades of experience and a devotion to attending trade conferences that assist them in learning new techniques and challenging the world record for how many marshmallows can be stuffed into a shoe.
For 12 years, Tapestry of Community Offerings (TOCO) has delighted children, parents, and passing wildlife with its music festivals, all while raising money and awareness for important community organizations. Profits raised by the family festivals helps TOCO with its direct-service programs, such as providing free clothing to families in need and sponsoring youth summer camps. TOCO also supports several other community organizations, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Helping Hands Food Pantry, and the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois.
A police officer for 23 years, Steven King dreamed of owning a shooting range where could teach people how to responsibly operate a firearm. Even after launching Metro Shooting Supplies, he still had more know-how to share than he could dispense in his training classes. His wife, a television reporter, suggested he host a radio show. Intrigued, he pitched the idea to several stations until KTRS gave him a one-hour slot on Sunday nights. Four years later, he and his cohost wife continue entertaining listeners by sharing industry news, explaining gun laws, and breathing heavily during awkward pauses. The station even extended them to 90 minutes. This passion for educating people extends throughout Steven's team, a crew of instructors that upholds NRA standards, whether training students in basic handguns or police and security officers for qualification. Steven's favorite part of his job is working with beginner shooters, specifically the moment when they realize that they possess all the instincts necessary to safely handle a gun. To help them, he uses the same instructional methods that he used to train his fellow police officers, which he learned at the FBI's firearm academy. Metro Shooting Supplies' training resources include rifle-rated ranges at both locations, and the Bridgeton range's superb construction earned it a five-star rating from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Ballistic-tested surfaces, such as steel-lined walls, surround guests in bulletproof protection. A HEPA-filtration system exchanges the air every 45 seconds, channeling a fresh breeze from outside. The range also features a bay of five handicapped-accessible stalls, built with oversized booths to accommodate both a wheelchair and an instructor. Inspired by the Wounded Warrior Project and his employees—many former law-enforcement and military servicemen—Steven built this bay as a patriotic expression to disabled guests who wish to continue or explore shooting sports. In addition to the public ranges and classes, both of Metro Shooting Supply's locations extend to pro shops, where the staff waits on visitors from beginners to active-duty police officers. Gunsmiths also offer the services in firearm customization, restoration, and maintenance.
Given The Bead Place's packed class calendar, it's a wonder the store doesn't grant degrees. If it could, customers who attend workshops regularly could have earned PhDs by now in subjects ranging from knitting and felting to silversmithing and metalwork. The scope of these skills is too broad for only a few people to handle teaching, so fortunately, the store employs more than a dozen instructors and doesn't count on a swamp creature with a giant, pulsing brain to do all the work. These staffers are experts in their respective crafts; Kara Jacob's beading work was highlighted in a Bead and Button magazine's "best of" volume, and Abbi Berta has been published as a designer in multiple magazines.
When students need materials for one of these workshops, the obvious spot to look is The Bead Place itself. The store carries semi-precious stones, vintage glass, Swarovski Crystal, and hundreds of types of yarn. It also supplies kits, patterns, and tools such as brass wire brushes and jeweler's saws.