Shopping & Services

  • Best Bookstore

    Left Bank Books

    Let's do this one by negative example. Not long ago, we were in one of the large chain stores in the area, looking for a book to read on vacation. The choice -- Stefan Kanfer's Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx. We approached the information desk and asked whether there was a biography section in the store.… More >>
  • Best Used-Book Store

    Book House

    If the Book House didn't have a sign in front of it, it would just look like an interesting, large old house. And when you step inside, you see that it still basically is an interesting, large old house. None of the walls, interior or exterior, appears to have been removed or moved, yet this place is no longer a… More >>
  • Best Children's Bookstore

    Borders Books & Music, Clayton

    The Clayton Borders, formerly Library Ltd., offers a huge selection of children's titles, from educational books on dinosaurs, the human skeleton and Japanese for Children to Dr. Seuss, Stuart Little and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The real draw is the giant storybook castle that surrounds the children's area, with a series of funhouse mirrors housed inside a turret. There… More >>
  • Best Comic-Book-Store Chain

    Fantasy Shop

    Now, your comic-store regulars come in three kinds: the superhero and barely-clad-female connoisseur; the customer who prefers an "alternative" (don't you hate that word?) to the aforementioned well-trod paths; and the patron of the arts with the wisdom to recognize the value of both aisles of the beloved comics emporium. Admittedly, the Fantasy Shop chain does seem to lean more… More >>
  • Best Comic-in-Books Store

    Star Clipper Comics & Games

    Among the reasons comics get so little respect are their ephemeral packaging and serial publication. Although few comics are printed on the cheap newsprint of old -- which quickly yellows and crumbles -- even when slicked up by glossy paper and card-stock covers with holograms and die-cuts and spot varnishes, comic books, despite their misleading name, aren't really books: They're… More >>
  • Best Record Store

    Vintage Vinyl

    There have never been as many options for buying music as there are today. You can buy it at Wal-Mart, on the Web -- heck, if you don't mind limiting yourself to the Britneys and 'N Syncs of the world, you can buy music at McDonald's these days. But chances are, if you really love music, you wanna go where… More >>
  • Best Record-Store Clerk

    Jim Lovins, Wherehouse Music

    Record-store clerks behave like members of an exclusive club -- one in which inclusion is guaranteed to those for whom "customer service" means "funeral for a shopper." Record-store clerks start as uncorrupted rock fans with musical notes in their eyes. Before long, though, a cancerous cynicism grows inside, usurping the sanguine innocence. It's like Buddy Holly doing a Dorian Gray… More >>
  • Best Used-Record Store

    Record Exchange

    Record collecting started out as a hobby for Jean Haffner and ended up as a career. The owner of the Record Exchange grew up in the Texas Panhandle town of Canyon, where his next-door neighbor was Buddy Knox, the rockabilly artist who recorded the hit single "Party Doll." Haffner never got over the infatuation with rock & roll that he… More >>
  • Best Jazz-Record Selection

    Euclid Records Vinyl Shack's Jazz Hole - CLOSED

    It seems at this point pointless to declare oneself in the matter of analog vs. digital culture. Compact discs, whose sole salutary aspect is their compactness, provide an efficient, durable information-delivery system. But as recording media go, they're about as cool as dictation cassettes. Long-playing record albums, on the other hand, are pretty boss. In the basement of Euclid Records… More >>
  • Best Music Store

    Huelsing Music Co.

    Out in the wastelands of suburbia, where it's hard to distinguish the latest big-box retail development from the newest church, you can go to places they call music stores. Young clerks with pierced body parts are waiting there to serve you. Everything is on sale -- or will soon be. There are closeouts, limited-time offers, special service deals and a… More >>
  • Best Guitar Store

    Acme Guitars

    It's a little hard to negotiate your way around the display room at Acme Guitars without bumping into an amplifier. The floor is littered with Ampegs, Mesas, Marshalls and old Fender tube amps. The walls of the small shop are lined with vintage guitars, arch-topped Gibsons and flattop Guilds. Mainly, though, the guitars are of the plugged-in variety: Fender Strats… More >>
  • Best Video Store

    Hollywood & Vine Video

    Independent video stores -- at least those that stock more than porn -- continue to approach extinction, but a few of the rare creatures are still extant, and the best is Hollywood & Vine Video, now in its 17th year of operation. Presided over by voluble owner Rich Engelke, who sits at a smallish, centrally located desk and discourses knowledgeably… More >>
  • Best Asian-Video Selection

    Din-Ho Market

    There's plenty to compete for your attention at Din-Ho Market, but in the interest of making the most of your entertainment dollar, you would do well to focus on the videotapes that line every available inch of wall space. What impresses, ultimately, is not the depth of their selection -- though who else in town would carry every entry in… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Used Videos

    Record Exchange

    For those of us who buy used videos, it's not a pretty picture. DVDs are taking over, and many films are slipping through the cracks, unlikely to ever come out on the imposing new format. There are few places you can even find used videos for sale. Incidentally, by "used videos" -- euphemistically called "previewed" sometimes -- we don't mean… More >>
  • Best Exploitation-Video Selection

    Movies Unlimited

    For those who mourn the passing of Whiz Bam! for the loss not of Dusan Makavejev but of Doris Wishman, there is a small dark spot of joy in the heart of Maplewood. Movies Unlimited deals. Drawn mostly from the Something Weird imprint, their stock is pretty diverse -- within, that is, the parameters of dingy interiors, ill-fitting underwear and… More >>
  • Best Place to Indulge Legal Vice

    HSB Tobacconist

    Oscar Wilde said that smoking was the perfect pleasure because it left you unsatisfied. And if you spend more for the habit, you'll think twice before lighting up. HSB has American brands, but you'll also find more than 200 imports. Unfortunately, plenty of Euro-brands (like Old Holborn of the U.K.) have been scared out of America by high tariffs and… More >>
  • Best Mall

    St. Louis Galleria

    When it comes to sheer size and shopping options, no other mall in St. Louis compares to the behemoth that is the St. Louis Galleria. Anchored by huge versions of Dillard's, Famous-Barr and Lord & Taylor, what sets the Galleria apart are its more than 160 specialty stores. Here, you can find a comfy stuffed chair at Eddie Bauer Home,… More >>
  • Best Rural Department Store


    Let's say you have flies. Or any other little bug driving you crazy when you go out in the backyard. Where are you gonna get the kind of industrial-strength, reasonably safe invention you need to get rid of the little pests? Time to head south down I-55 to Herculaneum, the nearest location for Buchheit, the store with more American-made products.… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Salvation Army

    Location, location, location. That's one of the things that make the Salvation Army the city's best thrift store. If boutique-style "thrift" stores are your thing, forget about it. The Salvation Army has all the odors and clutter of the real thing, the kind of place where the professionals go to stock their shelves with so-called schlock that earns a tidy… More >>
  • Best Resale-Clothing Store


    The only thing wrong with the Scholarshop is the parking. It's hard to find a place to leave your car. But it's worth the hassle. The secondhand clothes, of good quality are reasonably priced; there's a wide selection; the shop is centrally located; and, best of all, it's a worthy cause. The money raised goes to the Scholarship Foundation of… More >>
  • Best Place to Find Unusual-Size Dress Shirts for Men

    Floor Under the Shelves at Syms

    Tall men have problems the rest of the world can never imagine. Most men, when their one dress shirt gets torn, can just run to the mall and find a $20 replacement in any of two dozen stores. But when your size is 16 by 37, your choices become very limited. Repp Big and Tall may be your only hope,… More >>
  • Best Fitting Rooms


    What is it with these hip fitting rooms nowadays? It seems they're always finding new ways to make you feel like you're changing clothes in public. Some have curtains that only come down to your knees, rendering your pants' hitting the floor a public spectacle. Some fitting-room doors are thin as a belt, blurring the line between customer and exhibitionist.… More >>
  • Best Place to Feel Ethnic

    Lily Sarees & Suits Boutique

    There are days when jeans aren't enough. Days when you tire of the West's stiff rough denim and sleazy spandex and yearn for loose brilliant silks that will brush against your breasts and swirl about your limbs. Go, then, to the Econo Lodge, a tacky little motel at 4575 N. Lindbergh Blvd. (314-731-3000), and wait for the Indian man to… More >>
  • Best Shoe Store

    Dreamland Shoe Co.

    When Shirley Hollander's father opened Dreamland Shoe Co. on Jan. 26, 1949, there were a dozen other footwear retailers in Maplewood. The store is the last survivor of its kind in the once-bustling business district. Shirley and her husband, Larry Hollander, have operated the store since 1966. They say they owe their longevity to the loyalty of their customers, who… More >>
  • Best Place to Save Your Sole

    Sappington Shoe Repair

    If only they'd last forever. You know -- the heels you prowl the weekend in. The work boots, all broken in, with the butter-soft leather that, when new, grated like burlap. Usually, once a pair of shoes has a run -- sometimes several years -- it's time to complete the consumer cycle and throw them away. Memories, comfort and all.… More >>
  • Best Daycare

    Clayton Child Center

    What sets this child-care center apart from others in the St. Louis area are its low staff-to-children ratios, low staff turnover and highly educated workforce. Set in a completely renovated stone building that once housed the Museum of Science and Natural History in Oak Knoll Park, Clayton Child Center has a ratio of one staff member for every three children… More >>
  • Best Toy Store

    Spicer's 5 & 10

    Sure, you can go to a big toy supermarket and find virtually everything that's out on the market, but pushing a large cart through those wide aisles can be a bit overwhelming. Besides, it's not nearly as much fun as a trip to Spicer's 5 & 10. Here you can look down a single aisle and find yo-yos, spy gloves,… More >>
  • Best Used-Toy Store

    Decades of Toys

    Danny Matthews, proprietor of Decades of Toys opened the store "about 10 years ago." He buys toys from people who "bring them in"; he sells them to "collectors." He's a hell of an interview. But if you frequent used-toy stores for the conversation, there may be holes in your life that can't be plugged. If, however, you go to used-toy… More >>
  • Best Bicycle Shop

    Big Shark Bicycle Co.

    The amount of quality Big Shark Bicycle Co. crams into a storefront in the University City Loop is nothing short of amazing. Every nook is filled with parts, clothes and, of course, bicycles. The pièce de resistance, a Colnago sporting Campagnolo components and a $4,000 price tag -- just like they use in the Tour de France -- hangs from… More >>
  • Best Airline

    Trans World Airlines

    We admit we were thrown by the recent arrival of Pan Am, the first passenger airline to inaugurate regular service at a certain $313 million concrete patch near Mascoutah, Ill. After all, Pan Am is a storied name in aviation -- although its latest incarnation is a mere shadow of the airline that shut down nearly 10 years ago. But… More >>
  • Best Tack Store

    Equestrian Playground

    The tack shop, to those of the horsy persuasion, is the equivalent of a Pokémon convention to those of the 10-year-old persuasion. And tack shopping isn't just a way to indulge the all-American desire to acquire things: It's therapy. Check out a tack shop on any given Saturday, and you'll find doting horse owners doing what they do best -- worrying… More >>
  • Best Veterinarian

    Ed Migneco

    The Rottweiler is massive, which makes moving his tortured body impossible. He is also aggressive, apparently trained as an attack dog, so any attempt to get near him is met with low growls of warning. Ed Migneco, D.V.M., looks down into the cage where the animal lies, and he sighs. "He's in a lot of pain," the vet says. The dog was found… More >>
  • Best Name for an Auto-Repair Shop

    Nader and Sons

    No, Ralph isn't one of the owners. But as you drive by the auto-repair shop just south of Gravois, the "Nader and Sons" sign painted on the former filling station brings to mind the fact that consumer savant and corporate watchdog Ralph Nader got his initial fame by publishing Unsafe at Any Speed and testifying before Congress back in the… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Garden Supplies

    OK Hatchery Feed & Garden Store

    Yeah, the Bug Store's cuter -- but you can't exactly walk in and ask for gopher bait. At the OK Hatchery Feed & Garden Store in Kirkwood, you step into a cloud of peculiar grainy smells and see row upon row of stuff. The guys behind the counter are wonderfully cost-conscious ("This one's $2.20; maybe you'd want the smaller one?").… More >>
  • Best Pond-Supply Store

    Kirkwood Material Supply

    So many stones and pumps. So many applications of stones and pumps. The folks at Kirkwood Material Supply are pond-making maniacs who want you to have a pond so natural, so enticing that the birds, bats and frogs it attracts won't know it's store-bought. Tucked away on South Fillmore off Big Bend, KMS is a full-line garden center that has… More >>
  • Best Perennials

    Iris Hill Nursery & Landscaping

    Take the annuals -- your begonias, geraniums, marigolds. You put them in and they bloom, look good for a season, and that's their shot. Perennials, on the other hand, come back year after year. They self-replicate. Garden enthusiasts really like the low-maintenance perennials and often go crazy planting them hither and thither about the yard. According to one such gardener,… More >>
  • Best Florist

    Dale Rohman

    Other florists put up party tents. Dale Rohman surrounds the poles with silk-covered cylinders so they look like Greek columns. Other florists spread a tarp or unroll white plastic; Rohman lays down paving stones, plants thyme between the cracks and crushes it for fragrance. He's done the flowers for the queens and maids of St. Louis' Old World Veiled Prophet… More >>
  • Best Ice Carver

    David Van Camp, Ice Visions

    Whether you need a canoe with teddy bears, hearts with lovebirds or a big "2001" for the millennium, David Van Camp, at Ice Visions, is the man to call. He's the only full-time professional ice carver in the St. Louis area, so he books up fast, but for $250 and a few weeks' notice, any type of ice sculpture can… More >>
  • Best Hair Stylist

    George Tracy, Hair Designs by George

    Although most of the women flocking to George Tracy these days will tell you in surface conversation that they love his creativity (he specializes in color) and experience (he comes straight from Joseph Michael's in downtown Chicago), the real reason goes deeper than that. It's not the intimate fê te atmosphere of the studio he runs with partner Kim Paul… More >>
  • Best Place to Repair Beloved Old Appliances

    Park Electric Repair Co.

    This tiny repair shop has lived in Ladue since 1947, right out there on Clayton Road, with 1950s TVs and old Motorola stereos stacked up outside the door like a junk dealer in the city. The owners of boutiques on either side may wince, but nobody dares criticize the folks at Park Electric -- not when they'll glance at a… More >>
  • Best Acupuncturist

    Xinsheng Jiang (a.k.a. Dr. Ginger), Oriental Ginseng and Gifts

    The first time we were treated by Dr. Ginger, we had to resign ourselves to the ambiance, or lack of one. In the back rooms of Oriental Ginseng and Gifts, we sat on a folding chair amid cardboard boxes bursting with herbs wrapped in plastic bags. We listened to other patients report their symptoms, their bowel movements, their menses and… More >>
  • Best Source of Illicit Accessories

    Crystal Wizard Shop

    The concept of the "head shop" has proved a durable one, weathering the changing winds of youth culture by offering a reliable menu of illicit accessories. Such places may be best known for their, uh, "tobacco"-related goods -- water pipes, rolling papers; you get the picture -- but the real charm and interest come from what else the proprietors fill… More >>

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