Shopping & Services

  • Best Gift Shop

    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… More >>
  • Best Florist

    Catherine Thoele

    "Nature doesn't grow in fabric colors," says Catherine Thoele, manager at Kirkwood Florist. "We always say, 'Don't get all matchy!'" You ought to listen to her, plaid couch be damned. Thoele has been in the floral industry for more than 30 years and holds a degree in art history, not to mention experience in architecture and drafting. Plus, she's accredited… More >>
  • Best Electronics for the Audiophile

    Music for Pleasure

    You have not heard Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah" until you've cranked it on Music for Pleasure's $30,000 system. Holy crap! It's as though the late crooner is not only alive and in the room but inside your head, channeling Leonard Cohen lyrics into your ear from the backside. You not only hear Jeff Buckley breathe again, but he possesses… More >>
  • Best Musical Instrument Store

    Ron Busch Guitar Studio

    After you've strolled through the inauspicious storefront doorway and up a flight of stairs into Ron Busch's Guitar Studio, the sheer square footage devoted to guitars, amps and assorted other musical paraphernalia can feel intimidating. You heard about this place through one of its charmingly bad local TV advertisements, but you wonder where to begin. Just then you're greeted by… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Corral Liquors

    Whether you're Joe (or Jolene) Sixpack or a discriminating consumer of fine spirits, you owe yourself a little trip across the river to Corral Liquors in Granite City. What the wizened steel town of Granite City lacks in genteel refinements it makes up for in character. Hunkered on the town's main drag is Corral Liquors, one marvelous mother of a… More >>
  • Best Wine Store

    Grapevine Wines & Cheese

    Knowledge of wine carries either an air or odor of distinction: Just enough savvy and you're a great date. Lengthy diatribes on the merits of Italian reds and you're a pretentious jerk. "This is not as in-your-face," says co-owner Mike Gray, describing a chardonnay to a customer. "It's simple. Elegant." Funny, that's exactly the way we'd describe Grapevine Wines &… More >>
  • Best Book Store

    Left Bank Books

    In a city that has a fair number of good book stores, especially of the used variety, it's hard to single out just one for recognition. This year an old favorite, Left Bank Books, rises to the top of the stack. The store's combination of up-to-the minute new offerings upstairs and gently worn treasures in the basement is a book… More >>
  • Best Used Book Store

    Dunaway Books

    Given our druthers, we'd rather read than do most anything. We pore over books at cafés (witness the coffee-stained pages); we wake in the morning with half-read novels splayed on our bed. We read passages aloud to one another, because some writing is just too good not to share. And we think that Heaven probably looks a lot like Dunaway… More >>
  • Best Book Store to Die in the Past Year

    A. Amitin Bookshop

    You could have spent a week at A. Amitin's now-closed Washington Avenue bookatorium. You could do it on purpose, browsing World Book Encyclopedia sets from the Eisenhower era, going through stacks of black-and-white porn magazines or finding a first edition of a Gide novel in the original French (sans cover). You could also do it against your will, getting lost… More >>
  • Best Newsstand

    World News Ltd.

    You're the kind of person who walks into a bookstore and immediately says to yourself, "Aaack! Books! Where the heck are the magazines?" So why bother going to bookstores at all? Stick to World News Ltd., a store that takes the world's glossy and newsprinted pages very, very seriously. World News doesn't just carry Vogue, the place carries the American,… More >>
  • Best Tobacconist

    Jon's Pipe Shop

    In search of a pack of Marlboro Lights 100s in a box? Go to the nearest gas station. But if you're looking to burnish your inner sophisticate with a Davidoff or a Montecristo, Jon's Pipe Shop is the place for you. The small shop reeks of years' worth of the world's finest tobaccos. And if the aroma don't make you… More >>
  • Best Art Supplies

    Artmart

    A trip to Artmart will awaken creative stirrings that were previously unknown. The dullest, most uninspired lump of clay (ahem, that's you) will suddenly feel compelled to write down every profound thought that springs forth when faced with a selection of Moleskine notebooks and blister packs of Sakura archival-quality pens (available in various line thicknesses). Or is it the array… More >>
  • Best Art Supplies (Nontraditional)

    Leftovers, Etc.

    One of the first laws you learn in art school is, "Anything can be art." The corollary that follows right behind that is, "Don't throw anything away, because it could be art." Leftovers, Etc. operates on both of these principles. Just down the street from the Bevo Mill, their expansive St. Louis store (there's also a St. Charles location, at… More >>
  • Best Baby Store

    Target

    If you think a breast pump is a new way to accentuate your cleavage, you may need a crash course in the language of babies. It's harder to master than Spanish, but more fun, mostly because you can learn at Target. Sure Target is a big-box chain, and therefore evil. But we don't care. They give a lot of money… More >>
  • Best Toy Store

    KB Toys

    Toy shopping is an intricately calibrated process. To truly experience the joy of toy shopping, you either have to be seven years old or the toy store has to make you feel like you're seven years old again. This sort of thing cannot transpire when you pick up Jenga or a Slip 'n Slide and put it in the cart… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Store

    Star Clipper Comics

    Now that Star Clipper Comics has moved to its new location in the Delmar Loop, there's finally room for all of the great product that used to be crammed into the old, very small (but charming) Big Bend location. It's all neatly laid out now, everything from the mainstream comics everyone knows and loves to the incredible selection of graphic… More >>
  • Best Garden Center

    Eckert's Country Farms

    What's the difference between peat moss and mulch? Do butterfly bushes really attract butterflies? And what the heck's blue plumbago? If these questions have got you chewing your dirt-caked nails well into the night, a visit to Eckert's garden center will have you dreaming of zebra-grass hedges in no time. They've got a huge assortment of annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs,… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Biener Hardware

    Biener Hardware has hardly changed since opening its doors back in 1958, which is exactly why it reigns as the finest hardware store in town. Unlike the big-box retailers that have monopolized the industry in the past decade, Biener prides itself on one thing only: customer service. It's for that reason that you'll find more employees in the store than… More >>
  • Best Gun Shop

    Mid America Arms

    Mid America Arms is what is known in the trade as a surefire hit. Whether they're in need of pistols or revolvers, rifles or shotguns, discriminating Second Amendmentarians head to Mid America. The shop carries a broad selection, and its owners have contracted with more than 60 distributors and manufacturers that will ship firearms directly to your doorstep. Mid America… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy a Pocketknife

    Uncle Sam's

    Air marshals and Gateway Arch security details be damned -- you're not properly equipped for a day out if you don't have a pocketknife. Good for punching air holes in poorly made coffee-cup lids, slicing apples and tightening up your muttonchops in the men's room, a pocketknife is a tool (not a weapon), and Man is a tool-using animal. If… More >>
  • Best Kennel

    Kennelwood Village

    Two words: Doggy suites. We're talkin' satellite TV and a toddler bed for your mutt to roll around in. The television set's usually tuned to Animal Planet, but Kennelwood staffers will accommodate just about any request you have for your pet while you're away. "We have some dogs who have their own luggage, their own beds, ottomans, chairs and blankets,"… More >>
  • Best Frame Shop

    Artmart

    Artmart is more than just a frame shop -- it's a virtual Sam's Club of art supplies and assorted craft stuff (see "Best Art Supplies"). It's also the best place in town to have your masterpiece framed, be it that Renoir you picked up in Paris last year or your four-year-old's indecipherable fingerpainting. The store has hundreds of pre- and… More >>
  • Best Dollar Store

    Deal$

    Dollar stores are a dime a dozen. But Deal$ lives up to its name. For starters, everything inside Deal$ actually costs a dollar. Parents shopping for kids' birthday parties know the value of Deal$. You can pick up a secret spy kit, a package of squirt guns and a cool pair of sunglasses for a buck apiece. Sure, everything's made… More >>
  • Best Record/ CD Store

    Vintage Vinyl

    Give yourself an hour sometime at Vintage Vinyl. Browse. Run your fingers down a row of yellow plastic tiles, each scribbled with a band name. Contemplate the minute accidents, the forced association of alphabetical order that will forever link The The and They Might Be Giants. Slip on the headphones at each listening station. Sample each CD, if only for… More >>
  • Best CD Store (Used)

    Euclid Records - CLOSED

    Downloading music has taken some of the cachet from used CDs, at least as far as bargain-hunting goes: Why be happy to find the new Strokes album for two bucks cheaper when you could have gotten the whole thing for free? But at Euclid Records, you'll find CDs that you'd have gladly paid full price for if you hadn't stumbled… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Vinyl

    Record Exchange

    Record Exchange's Web site boasts of "10,000 square feet of music and memorabilia," but even that number seems an underestimation when you walk though the doors of the store. The senses are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of CDs, cassettes, DVDs, laser discs, VHS tapes and even a long-forgotten species known as the video disc. Let's call a spade a… More >>
  • Best Video/ DVD Rental

    Netflix

    Have you heard of the Internet? We tell you, they're really on to something here! Take Netflix, for example. A truly mind-boggling amount of DVDs, just sitting there waiting for you to click on them. And then they're mailed to your home. Turn them in when you feel like it. No late fees. Is this a great country, or what?… More >>
  • Best Adult Video Store

    Pure Pleasure Megacenter

    Pure Pleasure Megacenter has obviously been through therapy. Unlike many adult video stores, whose unwashed floors and peering employees make you feel like a dirty pervert, Pure Pleasure is bright, clean and happy. Complete with lava lamps, neon lights, satellite music playing over the speakers (even the X-rated comedy channel, if you're lucky), this north-side emporium boasts some 12,000 titles… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Sex Toys

    Friends & Luvers

    Whoever coined the phrase "good clean fun" obviously never went to Friends & Luvers. Sure, fun can be had when it's "good and clean," but it's a lot more fun when it's "down and dirty." To that end, Friends & Luvers provides the sex-toy aficionado with the perfect combination of risqué functionality and bawdy good humor. Where else in town… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor

    Allstar Tattoo

    Tattoos, obviously, aren't for the commitment-phobic. So why are there so many tattoo sluts out there (five different pieces, five different parlors -- you know who you are!)? Allstar Tattoo will make you forget about your wandering ways and settle down. With four artists to choose from, you're virtually guaranteed to find one who can translate your imaginings into reality.… More >>
  • Best Body Piercing

    CheapTRX

    Plain and simple, CheapTRX is a shiny, friendly place to get poked. Three piercers are on staff, including the only local member of the Association of Professional Piercers, a national organization dedicated to keeping all things hole-istic healthy and safe. And you know what? Besides run-of-the-mill piercings like your tongue, your brow, your Prince Albert, your clit hood, the TRXsters… More >>
  • Best Eyebrow Wax

    Nail Studio

    Unlike haircuts, massages, facials and manicures -- beauty treatments too subjective even for this annual benediction -- an eyebrow wax is a pretty straightforward process. A few yanks of the wax-lined cloth strip, a few follow-up pulls of the tweezer and voilà: Either you wind up looking like a surprised Joan Crawford or you emerge with a pair of refined,… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink and Get Your Hair Cut

    Bar Salon Ahh

    Longtime hairdresser Donna Pelley had a unique idea for her hair salon: Serve booze. It helped that the stately old building she was moving into was equipped with a beautiful antique wooden bar. Unfortunately, city officials thought there were already too many bars in the area, so they didn't grant Donna a liquor license. In the end, she figured out… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Custom Auto Care

    In today's automated world, machines have so often exceeded human capacity that many disregard the thorough abilities of the hardworking citizen. To that end, the hand car wash is an art form that is not only to be appreciated but one that easily surpasses the quality of machine-wash technology. And no one in town rubs down your dubs better than… More >>
  • Best Gas Station

    Jordan's Auto Service

    Getting your gas pumped for you at Jordan's is one of life's little luxuries, akin to pampering yourself with a pedicure or a jug of "not from concentrate" orange juice. But while those treats will cost you extra, Jordan's usually costs less than the competition. Under the Sinclair banner, this service station has been a U. City staple for decades,… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    BicycleWORKS

    The BicycleWorks concept is simple but brilliant: Herd in old, rusty bikes that have been donated or left for dead, let an energetic pack of neighborhood kids nurture them back into working condition and then sell 'em to the pedal-pushing public for low, low prices. For their trouble, the tykes around Tower Grove Park get free bikes they wouldn't otherwise… More >>
  • Best Skate Shop

    Infinity Skate Shop

    It's a well-known scientific fact that skaters are genetically opposed to marketing. So how does an enterprising pair of skaters get the word out about their shop? "It's mainly word of mouth," says 25-year-old Infinity Skate Shop co-owner Jason Ebenrick. "If they hear about you on the radio, they think you're a sellout. You lose your cred." And so through… More >>
  • Best Sporting Goods Store

    Play It Again Sports

    Why would you buy a new mitt, bat and cleats for that co-ed beer league your officemates talked you into? Why would you need a new set of clubs for that once-a-year round of golf at Grandpa Jasper's annual birthday hoedown? You wouldn't -- which is where our lone Play It Again Sports outlet (PIAS is a national chain) comes… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    Frison Flea Market

    Elsewhere -- in, say, Pevely, home to the region's largest weekly flea market -- the bounty is more plentiful, but Frison is worldwide. The vibe at this north-side market, which opens its doors every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, is afternoon flea party, a rollicking clash of cultures, from Hispanic to Bosnian to African-American to hoosier. A dude selling cast-iron low… More >>
  • Best Junk Store

    Architectural Artifacts of

    St. Louis Inc.

    If you troll down Lafayette Avenue looking for Architectural Artifacts, you won't see any signs in front of the huge red-brick building. In fact, the number isn't even in the phone book and the doors are only open to the public between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays. To call the treasures inside the boarded-up warehouse "junk" would be… More >>
  • Best Pawn Shop

    Lee's Pawn & Jewelry

    Once was the time that a trip to the pawn shop carried with it the lusty tang of the taboo. Friend, those days are gone. What's more, pawn shops have entered the era of specialization. Lee's Pawn & Jewelry, for example, boasts counter after glass counter of rings, bracelets, necklaces and brooches. The shop is so well-appointed, so clean, so… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Goodwill Industries

    You can take your pick of loads of new and used furniture at Goodwill. Go on Friday afternoon right after Target makes its weekly delivery. You can find new trendy desks, bookshelves and patio furniture for 75 percent off Target's price. Plus, Goodwill has plenty of used, but clean, couches, chairs, dressers and tables for less than 50 bucks. Check… More >>
  • Best Antique Store

    Joint Venture Antiques

    One can just imagine the fey twin brothers on Antiques Roadshow keeling over dead upon entering Joint Ventures, their last words a collective "Oh, my God!" Yes, Joint Venture is that spectacular. Although it may not be the biggest antique store in town, ounce for ounce it's the most interesting. A mainstay of the DeMun neighborhood for more than two… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Used Clothing

    Rock Star Rags

    An unmarked warehouse on the city's near north side, Rock Star Rags holds periodic public sales at which classic duds are offered at the unheard-of rate of $1.50 per pound. When you consider that most local vintage stores buy stock from Rock Star honchettes Deb Johnson and Barb Young, you know what we're getting at here. We're not dissing top-quality… More >>
  • Best Vintage Clothing Store

    Pixie 9 Vintage

    Shopping for vintage clothing is no longer just for the financially, ironically or fashionally addled. Sure, you could get an ugly cowboy shirt at St. Vincent de Paul's for five bucks, but you could get one at Target for that price too. Shopping vintage nowadays is the purest way toward fashion self-expression (provided you can do it before the Gap… More >>
  • Best Delmar Dress Shop

    Macrosun International

    Frankly, the blitzkrieg of ladies' clothing boutiques popping up along the Loop's main drag has been a bit of a disappointment. Is there a bunker beneath Delmar from which they collectively pull their lookalike wares? And is said bunker the vortex where the cocktail-fueled wardrobe of Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw intersects with that of skankmistress Christina Aguilera's? Sultry-in-their-own-skin… More >>
  • Best Tailor

    C.W.E. Cleaners

    Mr. Kim, as we lovingly call him, makes for an adorable one-man show and a lifesaving garment miracle-worker. In fact, with his cute yellow apron and his heavily accented English, he's like the Asian Gepetto, except his stock in trade is pants and the like, not puppets. Speaking of pants, we know someone who loyally brought in a pair of… More >>
  • Best Laundromat

    Loop Laundry

    Those familiar with Loop Laundry's former home on Delmar -- there's a Qdoba there now -- might accurately recall it as a dirty, congested sauna of a place. Well, forget everything you knew about Loop Laundry: The new facility at Kingsland and Vernon is a shining, welcoming edifice. It's the kind of place you might consider visiting even if you… More >>
  • Best Mall

    Westfield Shoppingtown West County

    Malls are for shopping. Not for ice skating, not for movie-watching, not for a stand-in for daycare. While such activities can indeed be fun and novel at a mall (cf. the Ice Zone at St. Louis Mills), they are, quite simply, beside the point. Entirely devoid of theaters and ice rinks, Westfield Shoppingtown West County is a great place to… More >>
  • Best "What Was I Looking For?" Store

    Spicer's

    Despite scientific proof that our planet slows in its rotations every year, life on Earth seems to be moving faster. Everything is open 24 hours a day, every store has a drive-through and everyone is in a tremendous hurry. Express has become the American way, and who cares if something's done correctly as long as it's done quickly? Spicer's obviously… More >>
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