Tanis, Egypt. 1937. Indiana Jones descends into the fabled Well of the Souls, and lands in a slithering knot of black asps. The swashbuckler is struck dumb with terror, managing only to mutter the now iconic phrase: “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?” Indiana Jones is not alone in his phobia. Tim Criswell hopes to change that.
Though the House of Reptiles founder doesn’t deny snakes’ potential to inflict harm, he hopes to foster in the public a more nuanced understanding of reptiles. He has amassed dozens of snakes over the years, including exotic specimens such as the indochinese spitting cobra, reticulated gila monster, and black mamba. He houses these serpents in his reptile museum, which was spotlighted in the Times not only for its exotic-species collection, but also for its mission to educate the public about the oft-feared-but-seldom-understood reptiles.
In addition to the museum, House of Reptiles features a retail store staffed by expert snake handlers, who draw upon years of experience to advise fledgling snake owners on proper care. Dozens of snakes are also available for purchase, giving animal lovers new friends who don't insist on cuddling every night.
Like fancy suits, sofa sets are sewn from the same cut of fabric. These matching sets provide a well-rounded look in living rooms, but near misses tend to clash due to their small differences. At 20 show rooms throughout the western US, Mor Furniture for Less arranges complete-room sets so customers can envision the collections in their own homes. Furniture for living rooms, dining rooms, and children's rooms can be found in each store along with individual lamps, tables, and entertainment centers. The stores also carry complete sets of beds, dressers, and nightstands so that homeowners don’t receive criticism from design bloggers in their dreams.
BedMart furnishes restful sleep with an arsenal of slumber-inducing mattress sets. The solid support of King Koil’s Arlington model ($779.95–$1,199.95) relieves bodies of the aches accrued from overworking pressure points and napping in ball pits, and Serta’s Perfect Sleeper Arborwood ($979.95–$1,399.95) a memory-foam mattress that cradles snoozers with detachable arms. Three comfort options for Five Star Mattress’s Stanwyck ($479.95–$799.95) can accommodate sleepers of all persuasions, from the hibernation-ready extra firm to the fluffy pillow top.
Although most chefs have their own unique style of peeling, dicing, and julienning veggies, they all have one thing in common: they each require precise, sharp knives. At Excalibur Cutlery and Gifts, the staff ensures that tools remain as close to their factory condition as possible. During sharpening services, a water-cooled belt system and buffing wheels restore a piercing blade while removing a minimal amount of steel. They can sharpen kitchen, pocket, and hunting knives, as well as dull scissors and razors.
The shop also stocks premium models of nearly every edge they sharpen. The cutlery department stocks German-made Wusthof and Henckels, Swiss-made Forschner, and Oregon-grown Kershaw knives. Ideal for camping trips, pocket knives come in both blade and multitool varieties. More genteel wares include manicure sets and old-fashioned shaving kits. Excalibur also boasts a collection of swords for the collector or CEO whose business suit needs extra panache.
Frame Central, where the upbeat, fun-loving staff works alongside customers preserving their artwork and keepsakes. Frame Central prides itself on its expedient one-day framing. Staffers have devoted years to learning how to craft custom frames fast without sacrificing quality. For one thing, they keep all their materials on hand, saving on time spent sending off for special orders. For another, customers can design and make the frames themselves or meet staffers halfway by allowing them to professionally cut the materials for easy home assembly.
Museum Quality Framing’s staff encases cherished photos, artwork, and three-dimensional objects in materials ranging from polished wood to leather. Ready-made photo frames ($10+) clasp snapshots in a wood-and-glass embrace, protecting them from wrinkles, stains, and the scratchy nuzzles of sentimental lumberjacks. Lackluster walls can find colorful companionship in preframed artwork and a vehicle for deep self-reflection in mirrors ($100+). Ensconce valuables in custom framing packages ($69.99+), which can accommodate sports memorabilia, or preserve fine art with archival mats and backing boards. Handcrafted frames add a Renaissance flair to photos, utilizing materials such as 22-karat gold leaf to create one-of-a-kind frames.