There are two very wonderful things about furniture shopping at Su Casa in Fells Point: First, the vast majority of its inventory, from tables to wall hangings, screams Baltimore — which shouldn’t be any surprise, since that’s the idea. “We’re a community lifestyle store,” says general manager Brian Donnell, and that community, right here, is where Su Casa finds most of what it offers for sale. So you’ll find small and large tables made by local craftspeople from local materials; tabletop décor as whimsically local as the word “Baltimore” in script, carved out of local wood; wall hangings as unabashedly parochial as reproductions of centuries-old Maryland maps. Make local, buy local, appreciate local — what a concept.
Just as welcome as what Su Casa offers, however, is the pressure-free atmosphere shoppers enjoy; no pushy salespeople or commission-hungry associates. Feel free to stop by and linger, setting your own pace. “When it comes to buying furniture, the experience is often like that of getting a root canal,” says Donnell. “We wanted to change that… We’re non-pushy, we’re not trying to get you to buy everything in the store.” Not that you won’t want to…
901 S. Bond St., Fells Point, along with stores in Ellicott City, Ocean View, Del., and Bethany Beach, Del. 410-522-7010. sucasa-furniture.com
This Hampden fixture has operated as a hardware store since the late 1800s and has been owned by the Falkenhan family on and off since 1968. Owner Debbie Falkenhan and her employees can devise creative, inexpensive solutions to vexing home repair issues — even for repair-challenged homeowners who can’t tell a wrench from a screwdriver.
3401 Chestnut Ave., Hampden. 410-235-7771
Jason Brown Wood Floors
“We pour our heart and soul into a product that people and their dogs walk on — but it keeps us in business,” says owner Jason Brown, 39, who has been installing and refinishing hardwood floors for 15 years. From Bel Air, Brown services the metro area and has refurbished floors in the Ivy Hotel and the Elephant Restaurant in Mount Vernon.
These seem to be the people to call when you absolutely, positively need to bring some outside help in to keep things clean and tidy — whether you need to clean a room, a house or a business, whether you want someone every day or just once a month. Looking to sell or rent? Majestic Maids will even inspect your home for lead paint. “Our house is like a brand new place,” one satisfied customer wrote on Yelp, typical of the high praise that peppers their online reviews.
Folks from four counties and Baltimore City trust this shop to start their engines. Owner Mitch Belcher has run the place, on the cusp of Liberty Dam, for 26 years. His mantra? “Fix things right so people don’t come back,” he says. “Be up front with customers. Sometimes I tell them what they don’t want to hear, but it’s the honest truth.”
With 20 acres of trees, shrubs and perennials on site, it’s a spectacle of greenery for gardeners wary of mail-order stock. Family-owned and rooted in Howard County for 46 years, Sun Nurseries boasts more than 2,500 types of plants, and will landscape your yard to boot.
George Kafkakis has saved the life of many a splotched carpet over 15 years. “When people say, ‘I’ve got to trash it,’ I tell them, ‘Give me a chance first,’ ” says Kafkakis, whose family-owned firm serves Harford and Baltimore counties. His reach speaks volumes; homeowners from as far away as Ocean City have sought his expertise.
In a perfect world, we’d all have solar panels on our roofs, converting the sun’s rays into cheap power that would keep our homes warm in winter and cool in summer. And that potential for perfection is just what got president and owner Colette Hayward involved with this line of work 10 years ago.
“I’m an environmentalist,” she says proudly. Give her workers two or three days, Hayward promises, and they’ll make your house as solar-friendly as they come. And judging by online reviews, the past decade has produced plenty of happy customers. “Their knowledgeable design; quality workmanship, and follow-on aftercare continue to reap dividends,” wrote one satisfied customer on solarreviews.com. While business has slowed some over the past couple years — “When you have an administration that is poo-pooing” the environmental advantages of solar power, Hayward says, “it doesn’t help” — her commitment hasn’t waned.
“This is my passion,” says Hayward, who’s been an MHIC-licensed commercial and residential improvement contractor for 24 years. “Hopefully, we can do something to try and save the planet so that my grandkids will be able to have something to live on.”