The Ellis family traces its history of working with plants to the late 1800s, when they operated a pottery-manufacturing company in Texas. Current-generation family members build from their familial expertise at all five of their store locations, spread between Louisiana and Texas. Twice a year, the Ellises travel overseas to identify upcoming horticulture trends decided by UN meetings in The Hague. This has expanded their decorative focus to include all aspects of home décor to complement greenhouses filled with tropical blooms and locally grown shrubbery. Clocks, lamps, and vases score homeowners extra credit in interior-design classes, and fountains and outdoor furniture make gardens hospitable for warm weather. For those who want to get ahead on holiday decorating, they offer an extensive selection of seasonal decor and accents year round. The Ellises encourage creativity with hands-on classes in subjects such as making centerpieces, weaving wreaths, and tying ribbon into perfect bows.
The friendly staff at Martha's Hallmark equips visitors to disperse season's greetings to friends and families with a rotating collection of heartwarming cards, thoughtful gifts, and oodles of LSU-themed merchandise. Their treasure trove of greeting cards takes on a variety of motifs inspired by the holidays and life's momentous occasions, such as high-school graduation or the first time successfully licking one's own elbow. Customers can woo olfactory senses with a perfumed candle from the Tyler Candle Company ($7) or entertain tykes with the Jingle All the Way book accompanied by a dog stuffed animal that barks out the words of the story ($29.95). Patrons can celebrate unwavering school pride with a Louisiana State University picture frame that can proudly display snapshots taken at an LSU football game or engagement portraits with the game-winning football ($32.98).
Just because people are savvy with a sewing machine doesn't mean they have eyes for fashion. Luckily, Fabulous Fabric's fashionable staff is more than happy to help customers by doing the design work for them. Whether guests are shopping for new curtains or looking for a fabric to cover a chair or drape around a regal living-room statue, the staff will happily help them shift through the endless bolts of fine-quality home-decor fabrics to choose one that best fits the job. From classic florals, stripes, and textured linens to trendy geometric designs and monochromatic animal prints, the store stocks fabrics to suit any taste or personal style, and there's even a selection of kid-friendly fabrics to give bedrooms and nurseries a playful pop of color. Flat-braid trims lend a finishing touch to DIY pillows and other projects, and those who prefer to leave the needle-and-thread work to a professional peruse a selection of colorful, ready-made curtain panels or speak to the staff about commissioning custom furniture.
The iDoctors’ helpful customer service staff and Apple-certified technicians repair injured iPods, iPads, iPhones, and Macs, and gussy up naked gadgets with a stock of device-enhancing accessories. Each member of the repair shop’s gadget-tenders goes through Apple’s rigorous training curriculum of diagnosing symptoms, properly opening and replacing equipment, and crafting emergency hard drives from recycled OS disks or disused childhood memories. The technicians’ skills go beyond diagnosing computing machines, and staff members root out computer problems on dead systems as well. Online customer service reps answer curious customers’ questions.
The staff at New Balance isn't concerned with simply selling shoes—their mission is to pair customers with the footwear that will carry them comfortably through life’s arduous steps. Understanding that an ill-fitting pair of athletic shoes can cause pain to joints and potentially damage knees, hips, and the back, associates measure the length and width of each client's foot and conduct a gait analysis to chart the trajectory of their stride when walking normally or running through ball pits. The data are collected to help the staff match clients with their ideal shoe, keeping them running longer and looking good while doing so.
At Daiquiri Express, rows upon rows of endlessly rotating machines churn out icy, alcohol-laden daiquiris the same way they have for 25 years. Fruity flavors such as margarita, grape ape, and white russian pour out of nozzles and into foam cups, which can be ordered to-go or picked up at the drive-thru. For large gatherings, Daiquiri Express also slings gallon-sized servings and rents daiquiri machines that double as storage space for Mr. Freeze’s underpants.