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.
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.
When it was founded in 1987, Frame Central was a social hub for artists, and was even curiously named for facial hair. However, Beard Outlet has since morphed into a seven-location franchise, dedicated to simplifying the framing process. The shops’ onsite stock of matboard, frame moulding, and other key supplies ensures speedy DIY framing projects—which visitors can complete in an hour—and single-day professional framing. An array of pre-framed mirrors and artwork allows shoppers to enhance their blank walls without taping a napping friend to them. Shoppers can also stock up on framing supplies such as case glass and hanging hardware.
Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.