Works of classic and contemporary authors commingle on Books With A Past’s shelves, inspiring all who enter the store to choose their own adventure as they peruse 4,200 square feet of literary treasures. With more than 100,000 new and used titles in stock, the store’s selection, viewable in an online browser, ranges from the aristocratic romance of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina to the tumultuous, thousand-year history of dryer lint. Authors visit the shop on a regular basis, reading excerpts from their newest releases before signing autographs. To further bolster the local writing community, owner Erin Matthews edits book manuscripts, college-application essays, and grocery lists transcribed in iambic pentameter. The store’s tutors similarly extend their knowledge to kids of all ages, enhancing their subject-area knowledge and test-taking skills during scholarly lessons.
The retail paradise boasts more than 60 shops, ideal for holiday or normal-day gift bequeathing. Adorn your body with accessories haven Claire's or help culinary crafters expand their cuisine repertoire with house wares from Kitchen Collection. Kids, adults, and three kids in a trench coat standing on one another's shoulders can get outfitted at Old Navy, while merchandise hunters in need of refueling can sate ravenous appetites at TGI Friday's or nibble on pretzels in their gentler form at Auntie Anne's. The outlets also feature a movie theater showcasing 3D screens for those seeking a virtual, textured respite from the onslaught of real textiles. Check out the directory of stores and eateries here.
Imagination abounds inside Firehouse Pottery & Arts, where artists of all ages compose masterpieces during classes, camps, and other group events. What began as a paint-your-own-pottery space in 2005, the Mt. Airy studio has since expanded into other artistic areas, such as clay building and glass fusing. Instead of tattooing van Gogh's "The Starry Night" to their forearm, adults can even attain an extra dose of inspiration while drinking their favorite wines during "Sip and Paint" BYOB gatherings. In addition to the classes themselves, Firehouse also plays host to themed events, including ladies nights and movie nights for kids.
While other children were playing outside Charlene Randolph's bedroom window, she was buried in her coloring books, scribbling intently with her crayons. This passion for two-dimensional art led her to take a slew of illustration classes in high school, but it wasn't until college that she discovered the clay medium and the world of functional, three-dimensional art. Tossing her canvases and drawing pencils to the side, Charlene became the primary instructor at The ClayGround Studio & Gallery, a BYOB workshop that provides novice potters with all the tools, materials, and fire-breathing abilities needed to craft stoneware art. Charlene's own masterpieces are available for purchase through the studio's website or at various boutiques and galleries across the country.
For 50 years, the owners and staffers of Plaza Artist Materials & Picture Framing have encouraged the artists of their community. They visit local fairs and set up booths for kids to color and craft, and they workshops, demos, and classes for artists of every age. As their name implies, they also outfit art makers of all skill levels with top-of-the-line materials, such as Gamblin oil paints, Prismacolor pens and markers, and custom frames perfect for saving a favorite art pieces or memorializing a sibling's failure to color within the lines.
From green gifts to handcrafted treasures, Nest houses original and environmentally friendly wares. Selected inventory includes sustainably sourced fabrics by Earth Creations, recycled glassware by Fire and Light, and charming pottery from Mudworks. Read the gripping origin stories of some of Nest's vendors here. With this Groupon, naturally scent the home with a large soywax candle ($20), pull on an organic cotton T-shirt ($26–$30), or sip from a tumbler crafted from recycled wine bottles ($10.99). Nest supports fair-trade, organic cotton, recycled, handmade, and environmentally friendly goods.