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  • Best Place to Buy Used Furniture

    Miriam Switching Post

    If paradise has a thrift store, chances are, it looks a lot like the Miriam Switching Post: a big but not overwhelming room filled with immaculately preserved sofas that don't smell like cat pee once you bring them home; housewares that range from quaintly funky to hysterically kitschy to straight-up elegant; polite, helpful staff members who will line up a… More >>
  • Best Video Store

    Southside Music and Movie

    If a series of tornadoes had ripped through the locally owned video stores of the lower Midwest sometime around 1986, and if you had gathered the debris, loosely alphabetized it and crammed it into the backroom of a low-rent Cherokee Street storefront, you'd have Southside Video and VCR Rental. Anchored by predictably extensive action ("Bud Spencer as ... Flatfoot") and… More >>
  • Best Women's-Clothing Store

    Ziezo

    Those of us with fast-paced lifestyles need to keep up with fashion trends but are too busy and broke to bounce to Chicago, New York or Milan each season. What's a hardworking gal to do? Face it: St. Louis is a fashion cowtown -- it's sometimes tough to find stylish, hip clothes, accessories and shoes here. Ziezo, though, has what… More >>
  • Best Used-Clothing Store

    Rag-O-Rama

    Rag-O-Rama is a nice, easy solution for layabouts like us; Goodwill and St. Vincent De Paul, the Value Village and Amvets yield nada anymore in the way of fashion uncoveries, and even if they did, we prefer our dander familiar and our detergent less chemical-smelling. We love the idea of scrounging the back-alley thrifts for a fashion jackpot, but we… More >>
  • Best Shopping District

    Forest Park

    Sure, there are the obvious ones: South Grand, the Loop, the Galleria and Cherokee Street. But smack-dab in the middle, and conveniently located for all, is Forest Park. The Art Museum's Museum Shop offers vast tasteful options in jewelry, art books, cards, kids' toys and even teapots, lamps and bowls. Exhibition products, many of them designed in-house, also sell fast.… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Overstuffed

    Luttrell Upholstering Shop

    Anorexia gave upholstery a bad name, but there's something to be said for the comforts of amplitude. In 1950, Jay Luttrell rented a little yellow building in Brentwood and started his upholstery business. Four decades later, his son Woody, the fifth-youngest, took over. Woody started delivering and pulling weeds when he was twelve, got a kick out of working the… More >>
  • Best Hotel Room

    Westin Hotel

    The "do not disturb" signs on the doorknobs of Westin Hotel rooms perfectly express your state of mind: I can't come to the door just this minute. I'm in heaven. In two sturdy Cupple's Station workhorse warehouses, across from the endangered Busch Stadium, sits the newly renovated Westin, a modern hotel designed in the style of some of the most… More >>
  • Best Place to Pick Up a Dogface Puffer

    Beldt's Aquarium Inc.

    He's a cheap pickup, just a $35.99 lifetime commitment, but the dogface puffer has plenty of competition at Beldt's Aquarium, a longtime North County institution tucked in a corner of a Hazelwood shopping center. Beldt's is where your Uncle Bob bought that tiny arawana that grew into the giant that ate Cousin Bobby. The retail store features more than 275… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor

    Iron Age Studio

    Yeah, yeah, yeah -- seems like the RFT is too damn lazy to do anything other than stroll across Delmar and extol the virtues of the neighborhood tat emporium. But for this year's contest, we did some scientific shopping. Armed with a custom-tat concept that's been buzzing around the brainpan for two or three years -- a leering, semi-anatomically-correct heart… More >>
  • Best Drive-Thru Liquor Store

    Fly-By Liquors

    Walgreens has drive-thrus for drugs, to make it more convenient for the stricken to get their medicine. So it makes sense that alcohol, a drug, should also be sold with equal convenience. The good news is, there are a number of great places to buy drink while driving. Compared with your average supermarket hassles -- aggressive parkers, runaway carts, weirdos… More >>
  • Best Wine Shop

    The first ten square feet of the Wine Merchant

    Yes, to the uneducated, the sheer mass of bottles inside the Wine Merchant is overwhelming, all of them staring at you, giggling at your ignorance, mocking. You don't know much about wine, and they know it. They can tell by the way you're pursing your lips, the way your eyes are darting helplessly. You've got two solutions: the first is… More >>
  • Best Costume-Jewelry Store

    Hong's Trading Company

    Diamonds are a girl's best friend, no doubt, but unfortunately all of us can't afford to wear them on all ten fingers. For the financially challenged, Hong's is the answer. Family-owned and run, this strip-mall mainstay has every ring, earring, bracelet, necklace and hair accessory in every color and style imaginable. From the more traditionally gaudy to the trendy and… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Insurance

    John J. Kaiser Insurance Agency

    When it comes to coverage, John Kaiser is the hardest-working man in the insurance biz. He returns phone calls within minutes. Dinged windshield? No problem -- he'll send someone out to fix it. If someone knocks your brand-new motorcycle over in a parking lot, you pick the repair shop, and clearance for the work arrives within 24 hours. We have… More >>
  • Best Jeweler

    Giganti Jewelers

    Alfonso Giganti skids up to St. Genevieve du Bois and pushes open the wooden door. Organ music is already playing, and the best man is about to walk down the aisle. Giganti presses the custom platinum wedding bands, ordered late, into his hand and makes a tactful exit. He's a tactful jeweler. When clients order custom body-piercing jewelry, he questions… More >>
  • Best Hair Salon

    Verve

    If you're the kind of person who gets a haircut only when your partner tells you to, or the kind who wants a buff coiffure on a regular basis, Verve has the laid-back yet fashion-smart atmosphere that appeals to both the fashionable and the conservative. The wife-and-husband team of Julie and Jeff Lopinot fits right into the continuing evolution of… More >>
  • Best Veterinary Clinic

    Olde Towne Fenton Veterinary Clinic

    How's this for a day at work? Fix a turtle's fractured leg and rebuild its shell; examine chinchillas, gerbils, rabbits, snakes, birds, pygmy goats -- in addition to the average 45 cats and dogs. Veterinarians Timothy R. Malaney, Scott L. Miller and Hallie D. Feagans operate the Olde Towne Fenton Veterinary Hospital, and they know what they're doing, regardless of… More >>
  • Best Poodle Hair Salon

    Doggie Den

    The name conjures up visions of plush leather couches arranged under the shade of a sugar maple, with dogs stretched out, an opium haze in their eyes, fire hydrants a short trot away. Because the Doggie Den sits in suburban St. Louis, though, the shop is the polar opposite: an anonymous strip-mall storefront. But as any mutt owner knows, it's… More >>
  • Best Name for an Erection Company

    Big Boy Steel Erection

    As a company handle, Big Boy Steel Erection scores -- not just with ladies and gay-boys but with everyone who sees the huge white trucks lumbering around town en route to another job site. Those whose minds aren't in the gutter automatically think, "Oh, there goes the men and materials to build the steel framework for warehouses, churches and schools."… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Framed

    Artmart Frame Center

    Swear off those annoying little frame shops where elderly ladies suggest a powder-blue mat and a nice floral frame. Forget the poster shops that know only Plexiglas, clamped painfully with metal clips and strung with bungee cord. Forget do-it-yourself, where they ask you every time just how much you remember, and vanish two seconds before you twirl the nail into… More >>
  • Best Store for New CDs

    Vintage Vinyl East

    It may be a trick of perspective, but it looks from here as if the city's compact-disc retailers get squarer by the day. Seems there's precious little shelf space left for anything avant and undanceable. So, for those whose minds are free but whose asses aren't following, you've got some driving to do. Whereas the University City Vintage Vinyl jazz… More >>
  • Best Store for 45's

    Record Exchange

    Everyone knows that the Record Exchange on Hampton is the first place to look for old vinyl LPs; few, though, ask to see the 45 room upstairs. Owner Gene Haffner keeps it locked, but ask and he'll prop open the door, hold the dimmer switch till the lights come on -- it used to be a film-screening room, back when… More >>
  • Best Store for Used CDs or Vinyl

    Vintage Vinyl

    Used CDs are everywhere: pawnshops, garage sales, flea markets, eBay. You can spend weeks scouring the town, or you can just go to Vintage Vinyl. Although the store's got a healthy supply of new and a decent supply of used vinyl, its emphasis is obviously CDs at this point, and the place is jammed with thousands priced under five bucks.… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Twangfest Duds

    Pixie 9 Vintage

    Clearly those who descend on vintage stores searching for costumes to wear to the "Down From the Mountain" or Dolly Parton show are despicable creatures worthy of nothing but scorn. However, those who live the life recognize the impossibility of duplicating the quality and style of yesteryear and appreciate that vintage is the only source for retro country attire. St.… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    Big Shark Bicycle Company

    Some stores are just so damn good that they deserve their victories year in and year out. Such is the case with Big Shark, a shop so active in the St. Louis biking community that, if you see a geek with those freaky calf muscles, chances are he's sporting a tight Big Shark racing shirt and his bike was probably… More >>
  • Best Produce

    Schnucks

    How many times have you bought an avocado, only to have it rot in three days? Truth is -- in case you need to be reminded -- the privileged do live better than the rest of us. Don't believe it? Compare the selection of goods at the Schnucks at Highway 40 and Lindbergh Boulevard, Whole Foods in Brentwood or the… More >>
  • Best Sex-Toy Dealer

    Very Intimate Playthings

    We like vacu-lock. Once you get the base attachment, you can attach a startling array of ever-so-soft -- but firm, if you know what we mean -- rubber implements with a quick twist of the wrist. Then it's just a couple snaps onto the harness and you're good to go. And boy, is there ever an array of attachments at V.I.P. Ones that… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Stereo Equipment

    Music for Pleasure

    If the names Linn, Krell, Martin Logan and Arcam mean nothing to you, you're not a hi-fi freak and probably haven't been to St. Louis' most exquisite hi-fi freakshow. Music for Pleasure isn't like any stereo shop in the area: Set up in a former accounting firm, the store has seven rooms designed like dens in the crib of your… More >>
  • Best Place to Lust After Furniture

    Edwin Pepper Interiors

    Just lie. Tell them your interior designer's on her way, she's matching plaids in Edinburgh, she's plucking damask roses. You'll just take a little look-see without her. And do try not to drool on the neoclassical sofa or claw the heraldic emblems stitched so gracefully into faded green cloth. Nod knowingly at the silvery-bronze velvet coquette chairs, tilt the price… More >>
  • Best Metaphysical Store

    Cosmic Journey

    Those attempting to escape the cold reality of the world for a moment are advised to make a beeline for Cosmic Journey. The Journey's warm ambience begins to work its magic on your agitated self at the moment of entry, in part because the store's designed from the feng shui perspective; everything's placed in the room just so, and the… More >>
  • Best Used-Book Store

    Subterranean Books

    Although only two years old, Subterranean is a already a favorite among book nuts. The store boasts hardcover and paperback titles that examine just about everything, at some of the best prices in town. If you're looking for an older book, Subterranean probably has it or its staff at least knows what you're talking about and can offer you tips… More >>
  • Best Repository of Printed Memories

    Paragon Typographers

    The last of the old typesetters, Paragon closes its doors this fall after 36 years of putting St. Louis' words into print. Its conscientious typographers set the first type for the St. Louis Business Journal, and they set the first Riverfront Times but didn't trust that Hartmann guy to pay them. When the Post-Dispatch went on strike, they set a… More >>
  • Best Post Office

    Kirkwood Post Office

    It's not just the clean, well-lighted place that does wonders for the postal patron. Nor is it the availability of packing materials, a scale to weigh your own packet to avoid lines, a worktable right where it's needed in the central waiting area, 1,300 rental mailboxes, the clearly labeled slots for outgoing mail, a counter for retail sales and a… More >>
  • Best Place for a Pedicure

    Tiptop Nails

    Women want pedicures because they can't paint their own toes without coloring outside the lines. Fair enough. But polish is only a small part of the process. "Pedicure" is a euphemism for having another human being clean the scrunge out from under your toenails. As such, it would lack integrity to go to a ritzy spa, listen to Michael Bolton… More >>
  • Best Florist

    Flower Depot Limited

    Phil and Jill Springer opened Flower Depot ten years ago in a historic building in the heart of St. Louis County's oldest commercial district. Not only did they help preserve a quaint corner of Church Street and Florissant Road in Ferguson's historic downtown, they added a spot of beauty to an area of the county long overrun by strip shopping… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Southside True Value Hardware, a.k.a. Service Star

    "That'll be a buck," Steve Ripper says cheerfully, handing over the vital gizmo with clear instructions and detailed advice. He turns next to the lady who's come in with her dog, trying to figure out whether she can paint the ugly tar caulk on the side of her house. Ripper started working in his dad's hardware store, down in Lemay,… More >>
  • Best Cheap Limousine Ride

    Radisson Hotel

    Want to take a pimp-ass ride in a white limo for the mere price of a dingy cab? Well, folks, believe it or not, you can, thanks to your friendly neighborhood Clayton Radisson Hotel. Perhaps because of its tony Claytonian sense of exclusivity, the hotel chain doesn't offer a similar service at its downtown property, unfortunately. But here's how the… More >>
  • Best Massage on the Cheap

    Healing Arts

    A massage is the hedonist's dream in terms of sheer sensual pleasure (and we mean all the senses -- get your mind out of the gutter). Your body's kneaded and knuckled while gentle music and delicate incense smoke fill the room. Alas, many of us can't afford $60-plus that a professional massage costs. Enter the student clinic. St. Louis has… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy African-American Lit

    Sunstar Divine and Family

    Sunstar Divine and Family continues to defy the odds: a black bookstore succeeding in the new millennium despite the cutthroat practices of big-box stores such as Borders and Barnes & Noble. Sunstar's success is due to its ability to deliver those hallmarks of niche-oriented retailers: superior customer service and attention to detail. Yes, the store has the required-reading new titles,… More >>
  • Best Place to Stretch Your Musical Dollars

    Ron Busch Guitar Studios

    As the music superstores advertise sale after sale after sale, you wonder how they stay in business what with everything being "up to 78 percent off, this weekend only!" Maybe it's because their prices were 78 percent too high to begin with. Anyway, if you're in the market for a guitar or an amp or just a new effect pedal,… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Gas House Express Car Wash

    Been parking under trees? Revitalize your ride for cheap at the Gas House Express Car Wash at Vandeventer and Forest Park. It's as fun as anything at Six Flags and doubles as rebirthing therapy (the amusing Freudian allusions alone -- and you will make them -- are worth the ride). You and your car pass through a tunnel while being… More >>
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