So established is Circle K that even brand-new vehicles recognize what its red-and-white logo stands for?fuel, snacks, and everything else a car might need to keep powering down the road with its driver. Circle K's story starts back in 1951, when Fred Hervey bought three Kay's Food Stores in El Paso, Texas. Under his guidance, these three little shops grew into the more than 3,000 convenience stores that crouch on our nation's street corners today.
After rolling up to a Circle K, drivers can pump their faithful roadsters full of high-octane fuel and send them skipping through a car wash to experience the cleansing touch of Blue Coral Beyond Green and Rain-X products. Then it's time to step inside the air-conditioned shop for a peek at the provisions. Rows of sodas hibernate behind glass doors, and snacks, candy, and their ATM guardians stand boldly out in the open. Some Circle Ks also offer the Take Away Fresh Caf?, which presents an appetizing lineup of healthy road fare including sandwiches, fruit cups, and fresh-cut vegetables. Drivers can gear up for a long drive with premium coffees or enjoy a cold Polar Pop, whose specially formulated cup keeps drinks colder thanks to the family of tiny snowmen trapped in its foam walls.
Handmade Amish blankets and local delicacies call to Tammy Herrara. On a trip to Wisconsin, she visited an Amish market and fell in love with the concept of selling natural goods in bulk to help keep community members healthy. With help from friends, she soon discovered a perfect location in her hometown to sell a slowly expanding inventory of gluten-free and homemade foods. Today, her market sells everything from Michigan blueberries and freshly ground peanut butter to Mystic Monk coffee—the proceeds of which go toward rebuilding the Carmelite monks’ rectory in Wyoming. Patrons can also stop in for a quick cappuccino and one of Tammy’s turtle brownies, or they can peruse handmade Amish wicker baskets from northern Wisconsin. With its wood laminate flooring, local radio tunes, and on-call phrenologist, Friend's Country Market harks back to neighborhood shops and general stores of yesteryear. A recipe board even sits on the store’s wall, inviting visitors to paste their favorite recipes for other customers to try at home.
In 1883, inventor Henry Ferris garnered plenty of attention for his new creation: the hay carrier. Perhaps most of the atttention came from Harvard, IL hardware store owners Charles Hunt and Nathan Helm, who urged him to move into their shop. The store became the Starline Factory, and in the following decades, the trio thrived on patents for cutting-edge farm equipment. Even so, their venture couldn't last forever. Around the turn of the 21st century, the building was abandoned and slated for demolition. That is, until a similarly minded entrepreneur, Orrin Kinney, intervened. Since then, Kinney has given the old, four block-wide building new life as a series of art studios and exhibition spaces. Now the creative home for more than 20 artists, the Gallery hosts regular events such as public paint-and-draw sessions, 4th Fridays open houses, and sleepovers where artists can gossip about the hottest new paints. An open floor plan allows for lavish events?from corporate parties to weddings?for up to 500 guests.
Tim and Bobbi Paul deploy decades of tune savvy to helm Piano Trends, which was voted best music store and instruction studio in the Northwest Herald's Best of the Fox in 2011. The family team wrangles more than 20 voice and music instructors to bolster musicality in local schools, with established performance groups and one former American Idol finalist. In classes for every skill level from novice to megawizard, instructors teach piano, guitar, violin, and a variety of brass and woodwind instruments, and voice lessons range from Broadway training to avant-garde birdcalls. Lessons for children under the age of 6 are available, based on the child's attention span, maturity level, and desired instrument; interested customers should call ahead for more information. Piano Trends can also cater to musical needs with instrument rentals and repairs.
Dolphin Swim Club’s faculty of professional First Aid– and CPR-certified lifeguards help children aged 2 and older learn how to swim in a safe and encouraging environment. They lead lessons within a pool comfortably heated to 89 degrees, keeping class sizes small to ensure individual attention. After trainers assess each child’s ability, they’ll place them in one of nine levels, which they can progress through in accordance with their budding skills. Very young splashers might learn bubble blowing and breath control in Level A, while older and more experienced children in Level 7 might refine stroke mechanics, build up endurance, or learn how to properly evade pool-dwelling Venetian merchants.
Dolphin Swim Club stresses child safety above all other concerns. Its founder, Tyler Brewer, was a founding board member of the Swim For Life Foundation, which stresses the Safer 3—Safer Kids, Safer Water, and Safer Response—to prevent children from drowning.
Before diving into any of their spa treatments, the staff of Infinity Day Spa wants you to stop, breathe, and drink a cup of tea. By arriving at least 15 minutes prior to any appointment, guests can decompress in the tranquility room, where flickering candles and fluffy pillows play host to tea leaves that blend into steamy custom brews. Patrons can also use this time to swap their street clothes for a robe and sandals and stow their belongings in the men?s and women?s locker rooms. Once their technician comes to claim them, guests embark on a visit built from the extensive service menu. Many of the spa?s treatments include extra elements, such as manicures with retinol-based vitamin repair or reflexology sessions with paraffin dips. Natural therapies also sprout up throughout the spa?estheticians frost skin with body wraps harvested from wasabi and ginger, and massage therapists melt muscles using oils infused with aromatherapy blends. After any treatment, clients may retreat to the spa?s showers to freshen up and hide evidence of the day from jealous stress balls back at home.