Social Studies

Not content to surf the Web solo, serious shoppers are flocking to retail venues that encourage more than just spending

PREPARING DINNER for her husband and two kids after work each night was just another chore on Kriston Feldpausch's daily to-do list until she picked up a flyer in her son's cubby last spring for My Girlfriend's Kitchen, a meal-assembly parlor where busy moms get together and make tasty food for their families over upbeat music and nonstop chitchat. "It's like a night out," says Feldpausch, who lives in Midlothian, Va. "It's fun; you always meet somebody new."

In a bid to accommodate busy schedules, forward-thinking companies like My Girlfriend's Kitchen are trying to improve lives with a retail experience that's...

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