Best Gift Shop - 2004
Catholic Supply of St. Louis, Inc.
Praise be: The Lou's most superlative gift shop does not rely on overpriced glass beads, creepy animal tchotchkes or T-shirts you can't wear around Grandma. Catholic Supply of St. Louis has a more divine mission, but it's open to saints and sinners alike (no alarm sounded when we walked in the door, at least). Sure, this cavernous south-city shop is a wonderland for those who're tight with J.P. II, but even non-Catholics can appreciate the aesthetics of an ornate, orthodox prayer box or a pressed-tin nativity scene. We also love this giftery for its vast supply of the downright odd: Check out the Jesus Sports Statues, which depict the robe-and-sandaled Son of God (along with a couple of totally unfazed youngsters) on the football field, the basketball court, even the slopes. And there's a patron saint for everything (jugglers, hardware stores, disappointing children), plus books for everyone from the toddler set (God Made Puppies) to the intelligentsia (Tolstoy's Walk in the Light and 23 Tales). Keep an open mind: Learn something about your own religion, or just get a better handle on others'. Either way, happy hunting!