Kaleidoscopic ribbons of fabric, including cotton, canvas, silk, and satin, unspool across Colchester Mill Fabrics’ expansive aisles, enveloping crafters in vivid designs from the industry’s most revered manufacturers. Hundreds of quilting books and patterns incite celebratory bellkicks beneath more than 5,000 bolts of cotton fabrics that dazzle retinas with soul-warming batik, oriental, and novelty prints from the wonder weavers at Hoffman, Timeless Treasures, and Moda ($8.98 - $11.98/yd.). Decorative fabrics (starting at $4.98/yd.), including tapestries and canvas coveralls from Barrow and Robert Allen, reanimate one-note living spaces, and cushion foam and upholstery fabrics soothe threadbare seats ravaged by sandpaper skirts and pantsless porcupines. Cozy crafters find knitting tackle lines and crochet hooks lining aisles alongside felt, stencils, and beads and complementing oblong tubes of yarn, and brilliant bundles of faux flowers wait to be gathered into a festive holiday centerpiece or a chic everyday bouquet.
Owners Carolyn and Stan Giliberto of Over the Rainbow Toys, one of CBS Connecticut's Best Toy Stores of Hartford, regale youngsters with specialty toys from trusted U.S. manufacturers and importers, as well as one of the largest selections of toys from Playmobil. A cheery sales staff stands by to help parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles discover age-appropriate gifts, while warning customers against common child-gifting flubs, such as presenting second graders harboring tightrope-walking aspirations with wire and a balancing pole. Arts-and-crafts projects, science and learning kits, and both kid and adult jigsaw puzzles fill the bright store. Young ones can sputter airplane impersonations with a Playmobil Click and Go jet ($11.99) or hone pin-toppling skills with the sunny colors of a Happy Giddy bowling set. A set of frog-shaped baseball mitts ($12.99) enables kids to impersonate their favorite major leaguer in the backyard and prevents calamities in china shops. The shop also offers creative, free gift-wrapping, sparing parents the inconvenience of hiding toys by putting them inside of other toys.
The Shoe Smith’s resident shoe healer, Jose Reyes, expertly fixes footwear and restores leather products to their original luster. Those tired of slipping every time they step onto a buttered elevator can overhaul pedial sheathes with the added traction of protective soles ($14.95 for women’s shoes; $20.75 for men’s shoes). Leather pumps battered from leaping over sidewalk cracks to ensure Mom’s safety rediscover like-new beginnings with restored heels and hides ($12.60), and worn men’s wing-tips return to normal elevations with repaired heels ($18). Birkenstock wearers can reclaim their stride with a full-sole replacement ($33) or replacement foot beds featuring deep heel cups and suede-lined cork that naturally contours to feet over time ($33).
Paint Your Life’s crafty paintbrush pushers translate photographs into personalized paintings using a variety of artistic mediums such as oil, charcoal, and pastel. Customers begin the process by uploading a photo with one figure they wish to have interpreted, such as a family scene, a landscape, or a particularly appetizing burrito. To customize their portraits, subjects can mix and match elements from different photographs or assign a specific artist to the project if one of the examples in the gallery particularly catches your eye. Once you’ve approved an editor-designed mockup, the painters—who are assigned based on your preferred medium—set to work composing a work of art suitable for hanging in the home or in the office next to other prized tokens indicating success, such as your Congressional Medal of +5 Dexterity and the former boss you had stuffed and mounted. Once the painting is complete, a photograph of the work is uploaded to Paint Your Life’s website, where you’ll give it a final review and request any final modifications before it is shipped to your doorstep in a specially-suited art tube.
Norwich Ice Rink maintains its ice year-round for athletes and casual skaters alike. In order to keep the community from slathering the streets in butter, the rink opens up every week for several public skating sessions, including most Friday evenings. When it's not entertaining public sessions, the facility plays host to adult and youth hockey leagues and organizes several different learn-to-skate programs.