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.
In 1986, Tod Colbert opened Weather Tight Milwaukee, putting his focus, unlike many home-improvement outfits, on bolstering homes' exteriors to improve the living conditions inside. More than a quarter of a century later, the company has helped more than 15,000 clients, and Colbert's concept is still going strong. Clients can replace regular windows with energy-efficient panes that stave off extreme temperatures with multiple layers of reflective coating. The company’s capable technicians can also install doors insulated with polyurethane foam, and roofing that resists ice to keep frozen slabs from sliding off the roof and denting cars or bullying helpless recycling bins.
Creative Fire Art & Pottery Studio has a roomy workspace where adults and kids can learn the craft of clay. The facility hosts day and evening classes. There’s also open studio time, where students can come and go as they please to finish building a piece or see if their clay pigeon has morphed into a real pigeon. In party packages, you and a group of friends can get a room to yourselves to work with clay under the advisement of an instructor. It’s also worth it to stop in Creative Fire Art & Pottery Studio’s gallery, which feature a number of original pottery pieces.
Since opening in the early 1990s, Manhattan Textiles has dazzled guests with its large assortment of reasonably priced, designer-inspired fabrics. Fueled by a passion for fine textiles, owner Judy and her two daughters traveled the globe in search of distinctive fabrics worthy of display inside their expansive show room. In addition to fabrics, they hand select trims, create custom bedding, and hand loom rugs from a variety of yarns, dyes, patterns, and magic-carpet blueprints.
In 1958, Guy Day and Dale Williams founded their mattress store with a focus on high-quality products and excellent customer service. After 10 years, the partners unveiled their line of handcrafted, personalized mattress sets under the name Verlo, a combination of their wives' names—Verna and Lois. After more than 40 years, the company has perfected its craft, manufacturing customized mattresses and selling them directly through their show rooms. The stock ranges from plush pillowtops to firm sets, both capable of supporting healthy sleeping patterns and cutthroat pillow fights for years to come.