Loomcraft’s textile experts guide home decorators through a show room of more than 200,000 yards of designer-brand fabrics, and resurrect furniture with their custom labor, reupholstery, and slipcover expertise. Lost shopping carts wander amidst a jungle of striped and floral cotton prints, and velvets and silks try to out-snuggle one another on tightly packed shelves ($10.99+/yd.). Stitch a variety of decorations to use all over the home with housebroken indoor fabrics or rugged outdoor materials strong enough to weather the elements. An array of trim and lining crisply define home-improvement projects, adding a professional edge to re-covered couches or modern tapestries depicting the shape of the Internet.
Fourth-generation storeowner Robbyn Ratskoff and her staff of trained stylists outfit clients of all body types in the latest blouses, jeans, and dresses from brands such as Black Halo, Hazel, and Rich & Skinny. Apprenticed under her mother—founder of two local boutiques—Ratskoff leveraged years of retail experience to bring her sharp fashion sense to the people of Buffalo Grove. With an emphasis on high-end, designer denim, the boutique's jean inventory includes styles that hug curves better than an Aston Martin at a roller rink. Meanwhile, racks support the soft heft of light, flowing blouses and warm sweaters from brands including 360 Sweater and Autumn Cashmere.
The team at Venus vs Marz Luxury Spa Lounge pampers clients of both sexes with facials, massages, waxing, and nail services, which pair well with their line-up of signature drinks. While sipping glasses of wine or champagne-based cocktails, guests cloaked in white robes sink into plush purple benches as they dip their feet in soothing, whirlpool-free pedicure sinks during mani-pedis. Clients who opt for the Nuclear Fusion package relish in a mani-pedi, massage, and VM signature cocktail—champagne and a splash of peach, mango, and orange juice—and guys can down a beer as nail techs tend to their hands and feet with male-centric mani-pedis.
Beyond catering to their clients’ needs, the staff also focuses on sanitation. They sterilize all equipment in an autoclave after each service to meet the standards of hospitals and their moms’ chore wheel.
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.
Ulta's licensed staff, which partakes in ongoing training to keep skills sharp, creates customized looks and expert image enhancement using acclaimed beauty products. Like a loaf of bread in a space shuttle with a broken sunroof, hairstyles can grow stale between salon visits. A 45-minute coif-cultivation session, in which the stylist takes into account face shape and lifestyle, energizes follicles and forges a salon-fresh look. In the one-hour Dermalogica facial, an aesthetic augur examines skin in order to customize a course of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing session with Dermalogica products. The treatment leaves skin impeccable, like a recently buffed and oiled slab of marble.
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.