Bright-blue garage doors slide shut over each unit inside the low-slung white buildings of Cowtown Mini Warehouse Self Storage, shutting off valuables such as boats, cars, or diamond-encrusted scepters from the outside world. Items are left inside the 240-square-foot spaces by clients who entrust the facility to safely and securely stow their belongings for a period of time. Owners rest easy knowing their boats are safely and securely tucked away for the cold months and smaller possessions are protected while they travel for extended periods of time. When they're ready to retrieve them, owners can show back up to the facility at any time of day or night to haul the items off.
In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of “hard-to-find tools,” and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone’s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.
The seasoned technicians at Sams Gas efficiently refill 20-pound propane tanks, perfectly designed for gas grills. Whether customers own their own propane reservoirs or buy one from Sams, a technician will fill it to the brim with fresh-from-the-farm propane gas, lauded for being nontoxic and having minimal effect on the environment or the indigenous dryer-sheet trees that spring up in lint filters.
Stand-up jokester Michael Blackson channels his West African roots to bust guts during an evening of nonstop snickers and guest cameos. Inspired by giggle guru Eddie Murphy, Blackson's exotic style received national exposure during his appearance in the film Next Friday, as well as HBO's Def Comedy Jam and P. Diddy Presents: The Bad Boys of Comedy. While guests sip drinks and sop up spilled laughs with a napkin, the dashiki-sheathed Blackson will dispense a steady stream of jocular jabs, covering such subjects as his adolescence and time spent adjusting to American culture. Special guest comedian Tony Black warms up audience chuckle engines alongside jester Rion Evans, who has appeared on the Monique Show. Also on the bill, musical act Atiba sends toes a-tappin' with energized jams and rhythmic readings of several shampoo bottles.
Dealer Direct Transmission & Automotive is staffed by car-smart ASE-certified mechanics. The friendly Dealer Direct technicians will give your car a complete oil and filter change to ensure that the vehicle's black heart is supplied with the purest of alien black oils (a $24.50 value). A complete diagnostic check (an $85 value) gives cars an inside-out physical assessment of their ability to play Little League this year, and a tire rotation (a $30 value) ensures that each tire gets a fair chance to spin shotgun. Finally, an exterior car wash (a $9 value) aligns your car's inner beauty with its outer appearance.
The seasoned brewers at Southern Brewing & Winemaking impart the secrets of crafting artisan ales at home during friendly, intimate beer-making classes. Up to 15 students savor sample brews and light snacks as hops-loving experts explain basic equipment and recipes and discuss the bottling and tasting of home-brewed beverages, demystify the brewing process. Instructors fill the lesson plan with their passion for brewing and encourage students to ask questions or stage modern-dance interpretations of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” The class covers enlightening topics open to students of all ages, but only participants 21 or older can drink alcohol.
Just walking through the door of All Fired Up can lead to artistic inspiration for paint-your-own-pottery sessions. Paper butterflies, flowers, and stars speckle the floor-to-ceiling windows, and ceramic tiles in the shape of birds, hearts, and trees cover the back wall. Artists of all experience levels can select a bisque piece to decorate with the studio’s vast supply of paints and melted Skittles.