In 1952, after years of experience in the nursery industry, Urban Reckamp planted the first seeds of his own horticultural business, Harvard Nursery. Twenty years later, the next generation of Reckamps, Tim and Pam, took over, letting the nursery's success grow through word of mouth, an established reputation in the community, and a stockpile of magic beans. Bringing a bachelor's in horticulture and an education background in design, the third generation, Kevin and Nina Reckamp, sprouted their roots as the new management of the nursery in 2010.
Today, with 60 years of experience under its belt, the nursery offers visitors a plethora of greenery. Its retail garden center blooms with locally grown verdant saplings and effulgent perennials guaranteed to appease the pickiest of garden gnomes. In addition to onsite dealings, its experienced crew can also travel to nearby locations to perform landscape design, enhancement, and maintenance.
Celebrating their 25th anniversary in the end of October, the hop gurus at Brew and Grow educate burgeoning beer makers on the art of crafting cold ones via hands-on introductory courses. During 2.5-hour classes, duos learn the ins and outs of the brewing process, including basic terminology, equipment, and the differences between ales, lagers, and root beer. Pupils will sip various suds while learning about ideal ingredient combinations, then concoct customized barley pops. Though they can't immediately take class creations home, participants will be able to return to the brewery in approximately one month or after malted barley has passed its fermentation exam to tap and taste their personalized potables. At the end of the session, students will be able take home a choice of two comprehensive home brewing guides, either How To Brew by John Palmer or Radical Brewing by Chicago author Randy Mosher.
Walter E. Smithe's huge showrooms contain more than 500 collections of high-quality designer furniture and home accessories, stocking brands including Drexel Heritage, Nourison, Hancock and Moore, and Bradington-Young. Fill a brass-trimmed vase ($119) with flowers, pencils, or wishes, or keep winter moisture stylishly contained in a hand-painted umbrella stand ($99). Walter E. Smithe's selection of four-legged pieces includes an Ontario end table ($299) and a Louise chair ($599). Most products come with impressive warranties, including a 10-year guarantee for every cushion on the comfy Kayla sofa ($1,749).
At Back to Bed's South Loop location, manager Kip Wilkinson puts customers at ease with a friendly attitude, helping them find a bed that fits their individual needs and budget. The experienced delivery staff also sets up new beds and removes old ones, with a variety of delivery options available. At the show room, Tempur-Pedic, Stearns & Foster, and Simmons Beautyrest mattresses await rigorous testing, and the sleep-savvy employees help shoppers determine if they're more suited to a firm or soft mattress or to creamy or chunky peanut butter. Aside from a wide selection of mattress types and brands, Back to Bed also offers accessories such as ergonomic memory foam pillows.
The showroom at O'Reilly's Stained Glass is hectic but mesmerizing. Stained-glass creations glimmer in the windows, dangle from the ceiling, and sprout from the floors. These panes are the work of masters—particularly Suzie O'Reilly, who began glassworking in 1977. Since opening the storefront in 1999, Suzie has popularized the ancient art form, both through custom artwork and classes. In addition to tutoring students of all levels, she repairs damaged stained-glass pieces and designs one-of-a-kind works for weddings and businesses.
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.