To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, ?She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.?
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand?s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
In 1976, busy California mother Joan Barnes wanted nothing more than to find a play place where she and her kids could enjoy age-appropriate, educational activities. Finding none, she developed her own innovative play environment within a developmental-based program structure now known as Gymboree Play & Music. Today, kids tumble and learn in more than 650 locations in 33 countries around the world, engaging in open play and classes designed to build cognitive and motor skills. As parents participate in their children's development, their kids learn to paint, play music, and interact socially outside of their preschool knitting circles.
TigerDirect.com's vast virtual warehouse distributes computer parts, software, and gadgetry around the world, backed by their brick-and-mortar stores around the nation. Home to PC and computing experts, the stores dole out repair and advice in equal sums, answering questions about virus issues such as pop-ups or nasty computer-sneezing fits. Founded on the principles of putting the consumer first, TigerDirect offers same-day shipping and business-to-business sales, and they boast a spyware-tight website security guarantee that will cover customer liability up to $50.
Akira swaddles customers from clavicle to toe with a collection of trendy apparel from more than 200 designer brands crafted by foreign, domestic, and Chicago fabricsmiths. Women, men, and mannequins can browse a selection of clothing and accessories that includes the signature looks of Jeffrey Campbell, UNIF, and Keepsake. Akira has cooperated with such endeavors as Generation Y, which fosters artistic expression in Chicago public schools.
Gordmans restocks bureaus and residential nooks with an expansive inventory of name-brand merchandise discounted below department store prices, including team apparel and seasonal decorations. Flaunt support for a collegiate club by sliding arm branches through an Illinois color-block polo ($24.99). Fans can also don a pair of Chicago Bears lounge pants ($19.99), ideal for relaxing while watching the game or ripping off to expose Mike Ditka knee tattoos. Artistic wall art festoons vacant environs in colorful creations, such as canvases coated in tones of still-life wine ($24.99) and scenic vistas ($29.99+). Alternatively, a harvest of men's and women's fragrances allows shoppers to uncork new scents for seasonal parties, class reunions, and heated negotiations with the shopping-mall Santa Claus.