When Paul Block looks at an old oak wine barrel, he sees tables, rocking chairs, and serving pieces with elegant lines and beautifully polished finishes. From his Calistoga (Calif.) workshop, built with -- what else? -- wine barrels, he produces 55 products, from a $40 sushi tray to a $3,400 display case. Block, a sculptor and former chef, is passionate about the "iridescence" of the wine-stained oak. His platters and other small items are for sale at two nearby wineries, as well as in specialty retailer Dean & Deluca's stores and catalog. He sells bigger pieces through his Web site, winebarrelfurniture.com.
Can a purveyor of colorful women's clothing make the leap into high-end day spas for both sexes? Coldwater Creek, probably best known for its catalog, is testing spas in six markets where it has retail stores. Decorated with earth tones and natural woods, the new spas avoid the kind of feminine decor that might scare away male customers. "Nobody has Starbucked the day spa experience," says Dan Griesemer, executive vice-president of sales and marketing.
So far, Coldwater Creek has opened locations in upscale shopping areas in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, and the Portland (Ore.) suburbs. A sixth, near San Francisco, is expected to open by late August, and at least 10 more are on tap for 2007. The staff includes veterans from two well-known destination spas: The Greenhouse in Dallas and Connecticut's Spa at Norwich Inn.
Prices for services vary slightly by market. At the spa in Southlake Town Square, an outdoor mall near Dallas, the Hot River Stone massage is $165 for 90 minutes, while the Skin Therapy for Men facial is $100 for an hour.
For all those times you get to the course and realize -- drat! -- your golf shoes are at home, Rede Golf has an answer: adhesive-backed cleats that convert any shoes into a pair acceptable for a round. Simply peel the plastic off each of the cleats (which come in the shape of a "red E" -- get it?) and press them firmly onto your soles. After your round, run a knife under the cleats to pop them off ($20 for 20 cleats; redegolf.com).
Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is known for mineral water, battlefields, and thoroughbreds. (The racing season starts July 26.) But Jessica Arceri and Chris Kaiser hope it will be equally famous for flavored peanut butters, such as Blizzard Butter (white chocolate), Chill'n Chocolate (chunky dark), and Monkey Boy (banana with raisins). Launched in 2005, Saratoga Peanut Butter ($5 to $6 a jar) has been a hit at farmers' markets and gourmet shops. It's also available online (saratogapeanutbutterco.com). $by
By Tom Dowd