Shopping & Services

  • Best Car Wash

    The Neighborhood Car Wash

    Hand car washes are for special occasions (or men who love their cars even more than their lawns). Automated drive-through car washes are a quick fix in emergency situations. Wielding a hose at self-service bays is the most common method, and if most of the equipment works most of the time, we're relieved to not have lost ten quarters. Then… More >>
  • Best Dog Wash

    Four Muddy Paws

    Duke, unofficial canine mascot of the RFT editorial offices and habitual problem child, hates a bath. So much so that the best way to wash him is to get in the shower with him and hold him between your legs while scrubbing him down. That was before Four Muddy Paws opened. This pet boutique equipped with self-service dog wash stations… More >>
  • Best Shine

    James Mercer

    James Mercer has earned his keep shining shoes downtown for the better part of the past quarter-century. At present he operates a chair in a small room on the ninth floor of the Chemical Building at Eighth and Olive, next door to Marilyn Massey's Downtown Barber Shop. Shining shoes is a tough racket these days, reports Mercer -- a consequence… More >>
  • Best Dry Cleaner

    Klassic Cleaner - CLOSED

    Klassic Cleaner is a humble affair in the basement of the Gateway One Building downtown, just a counter and a hanger pole. Counter attendant Chong (she prefers a one-name moniker) has a sixth sense when it comes to knowing that a customer has arrived and appears stage-left like a game show host. Klassic's been down here for sixteen years, and… More >>
  • Best Gun Shop

    Keller Gun Works Inc.

    Look to the right as you enter Keller Gun Works and admire the large stuffed bear. It's not merely a decoration. It's the original Build-a-Bear. Owner Jim Keller shot it himself. He'll tell you so, if you ask, his voice betraying no pride, just the slightest hint of amusement. Do you really think he would display someone else's kill in… More >>
  • Best Pawnshop

    First Cash

    Far too many pawnshops amount to little more than really terrible places to buy an engagement ring. First Cash, on the other hand, is a great place to do some casual shopping. A national chain with three St. Louis locations, First Cash's most popular (and best) store is its North Grand outlet. At times the line of customers is literally… More >>
  • Best Garden Center

    Beckmann Brothers Landscaping

    If the world did indeed live in the palatial estates and country manors favored as settings in the home-improvement shows and magazines, every one of us would shop at Beckmann Brothers for our landscape needs. Massive rocks suitable for the most rustic flagstones, neat phalanxes of hedges to ring our castles, soft carpets of gorgeous blooms stretching toward the horizon… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Southside True Value Hardware

    So, what's the longest you've waited for service at one of the big-box hardware stores? Fifteen minutes? Half an hour? An hour? Only to find that the "sales associate" doesn't know the difference between a croissant and crescent wrench? Step into Southside Hardware, and you'll be hard-pressed to wait fifteen seconds before a member of the Ripper family offers assistance.… More >>
  • Best Retail Experience

    Levine Hat Company

    Long before St. Louis was first in shoes, first in booze and last in the American League, the Levine Hat Company was hawking hats downtown. So perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that customers are practically swaddled in service from the moment they step through the door and are handed a plastic head covering (for the more sanitary trying-on of hats).… More >>
  • Best Frame Shop


    Learning to talk would have been so much more fun if only we'd done it in Artmart's Frame Center. But it's not hard to picture (har!): Wandering up and down the aisles is a tremendous exercise in vocabulary and in adjective usage, from embossed to fresco to bas relief. "Biiiiiig," you think, running your hand over a 24-by-36 black matte… More >>
  • Best Soap

    Hermann Handmade Soap

    Eric and Mary Brende spent a week in Tennessee learning the recipe for their Hermann Handmade Soap, which will clean and moisturize even the huskiest bear. They sell at Soulard Market, where each Saturday one of them can be found explaining the qualities of their velvety product. Eric Brende is the author of Switching Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology,… More >>
  • Best Beads

    Lady Bug Beads

    We're not talkin' Hobby Lobby two-baggies-fer-a-dollar here, folks. Not that there's anything wrong with a bargain. But what we're talkin' here is more than 3,000 square feet of glass, silver, crystal, bone, shell, pearl and semiprecious stones. We're talkin' classes and demonstrations. We're talkin' Girl and Boy Scout troop excursions, birthday parties and Tuesday-evening Bead Socials. Opened in August 2003… More >>
  • Best Knitting Supplies

    Hearthstone Knits

    Knitting, yes. Why do you laugh? Knitting's hip again, my friend. Urban knitters congregate nationwide, purling under the aegis of the Stitch 'n' Bitch movement, or just casting on as rogue elements fighting against the sweat-shop standard of clothing manufacture. Hell, Brian Gibson of Lightning Bolt knits his own costumes -- that's how hip knitting has become. But don't pick… More >>
  • Best Art Supplies


    Artmart makes you question why your hobby is making meth in your kitchen and not, say, stamping or drawing with Conté crayons. You want to pick a fight with your significant other just so you have occasion to make an "I'm sorry" card. You suddenly feel bad about mocking your friends who take scrapbooking classes and seriously consider buying some… More >>
  • Best Musical Instrument Store

    Swing City Music

    Only one kid's test-driving a guitar, and he's shredding -- and it isn't a Metallica song. There's a floor-to-ceiling wall of guitars, and they aren't all cheap. Gibson Firebirds, two color choices. Les Pauls. Epiphone Iommi and at a better price than the Big Box. Sure, they could have more effects, but the broad selection of basses more than makes… More >>
  • Best Electronics for the Audiophile

    Music for Pleasure

    Love your music? Sure you do. But what have you done for your music lately? Given it anything nice? An iPod, you say? Gimme a break! What with those nasty mp3s and those skanky little earbuds, you've been mistreatin' your music, Clem. Doesn't it deserve better? How about a T+A CD player with a tube output stage -- mmmm, that'll… More >>
  • Best Baby Store

    City Sprouts

    Pity the poor sap who wasn't born in the past ten years. If you haven't been a baby, or at the very least had a baby in close proximity, in the past decade, you may not be aware of the amazing advances in kid-hip (and a parallel leap forward in what, for lack of a better term, we'll call "softness… More >>
  • Best Toy Store (for Grown-Ups)

    Toys "R" Us

    What is more important to a toy collector than a strong line of credit? Selection. A healthy Visa card is useless if the goods aren't available. This summer was rough for the collector on both fronts. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Batman Begins and the almost-constant waves of Justice League action figures meant there was much to acquire and… More >>
  • Best Toy Store (for Kids)

    LagoonaMagoo Toys

    The challenge was simple: Give a six-year-old and a three-year-old each $5, enter the toy store and have everyone (adult, kids and store staff) leave happy. It was much harder than it sounds, but LagoonaMagoo did itself proud. Located just off the indoor play place at Mills Mall (very clever location), LagoonaMagoo carries everything you considered fun when you were… More >>
  • Best Role Playing Game Store

    The Fantasy Shop

    Let's face it: You hate your job. No, you loathe your job. How did it come to this? You had dreams when you were young, an imagination that made even the tedium of school bearable. And now? Staff meetings, fluorescent lighting and a cubicle have laid waste to your once-flourishing inner world. You'd quit yesterday if it weren't going to… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Store

    Star Clipper Comics

    How can anyone single out a comic book store as better than any other comic book store? They all carry the same titles, they all put the books out on the same day, and they all charge the same price for each issue. Thanks to the comic book industry, it's a very level playing field. Like most comic shop staffs,… More >>
  • Best Book Store

    Subterranean Books

    Oprah's best efforts notwithstanding, books have taken a serious hit at the hands of competing media. It's easier to watch a movie, listen to a CD or turn on cable than it is to read a book, and most people do prefer easy. Regardless, savvy independent book merchants have managed to ride the changes, as Javier Parada and Kelly von… More >>
  • Best Used Book Store

    Patten Books

    It's located in a blink-and-you-miss it spot, but Patten Books is worth the effort (and inevitable first-time drive-by) to find. The store contains a formidable selection of the expected (walls and walls of quality fiction and nonfiction, as well as truly stellar mystery and science-fiction sections) and the unexpected (trivia books and the like). For the little ones, an entire… More >>
  • Best Newsstand

    World News Ltd.

    Still the undisputed heavyweight champion, this unassuming corner storefront in the heart of downtown Clayton is a mandatory destination before your next two-layover flight, inpatient surgery or bathroom break. The secret to its success is simply the classic newsstand formula. You'll find newspapers both domestic and foreign, serious and celebrity-cellulite obsessed, the latest hardcover and paperback best sellers, comic books… More >>
  • Best Window Display

    R. Ege Antiques

    The art of the window display long ago lost its luster. If you're lucky, you might spot an erect mannequin nipple, but most retailers these days design Web sites instead. The window at R. Ege Antiques in Soulard, however, is a constantly evolving still-life worthy of Joseph Cornell. Owner Rick Ege creates the display by culling from his inventory, a… More >>
  • Best Record/CD Store

    Vintage Vinyl

    It isn't quite Cheers, but the Loop outpost of Vintage Vinyl fosters a homey, open atmosphere that's a far cry from the snobbery of many indie stores. Whether it's the cheapo vinyl selection that resembles your parents' collection (lots of Phil Collins!) or the friendliness of patrons, the Delmar landmark encourages musical exploration. Entire sections devoted to local tunes, $1… More >>
  • Best Used CD Store

    CD Reunion

    In a nondescript strip mall in the heart of north county lies one of St. Louis' best-hidden musical secrets. CD Reunion has been in business for some twenty years (counting its previous life as the Record Reunion), and like all good music stores it still has a solid base of loyal customers. Never mind the faŤade, CD Reunion is mighty… More >>
  • Euclid Records

    Best Place to Buy Vinyl

    Euclid Records - CLOSED

    For many record stores, stocking the outdated, oversize vinyl format is almost an afterthought, an area of the store where forgotten new-wave bands and surplus Fleetwood Mac albums go to gather dust. Euclid Records, on the other hand, lovingly devotes an entire room to the platters -- arranged with so much care that each individual Beatles album earns its own… More >>
  • Best Video/DVD Rental

    Blockbuster Online

    Bemoaning the fact that St. Louis has no proper independent video stores, all the indie kids switched over to Netflix a couple years ago. But then they got nostalgic for the brick-and-mortar stores, because half the fun of renting is browsing the new releases. Even if you have no intention of picking up Wild Things 2 (sure you don't; you'll… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Anime

    Suncoast Motion Picture Co.

    We can't pinpoint the precise moment, but sometime during the past half-decade, anime gained a rather large foothold in the American pop-culture consciousness. This is a good thing -- the Japanese cartoons counter the Disneyfication of animation as a storytelling medium. Which means that people other than the comic-book crowd are coming to appreciate that complex, interesting stories can be… More >>
  • Best Mall

    Westfield Northwest (Northwest Plaza)

    Chris Rock is fond of saying that "there ain't nothing in the black mall but sneakers and baby clothes." But north county's best black mall, Northwest Plaza -- which just happens to be the best mall in the St. Louis area -- has much, much more: at least four stores for the fashionable black man to buy suits in colors… More >>
  • Best Mall Sculpture

    Jamestown Mall

    As if to cover up a small tinge of capitalist guilt, most American malls dedicate a few square feet to the cultured arts. This usually manifests as an ignored sculpture in the center court fountain. When Jamestown Mall opened in 1974, they went full-on hallucinogenic with four ultramodern sculptures for patrons to ignore in their mad rush to Swiss Colony… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    Maplewood Bicycle

    Whether you could name every rider in the peloton at this year's Tour de France or you just look longingly at passing bicycles as you fill your car with $3.50-a-gallon gas, you will find a bicycle at Maplewood Bicycle. Yes, even you there in the back, fondly remembering the first bike you ever had, a wicker basket attached to the… More >>
  • Johnny Mac\'s

    Best Sporting Goods Store

    Johnny Mac's

    Long before the advent of the sports superstore, there was Johnny Mac's. In business for some 37 years, the original Sunset Hills store has given rise to four additional outlets. Johnny Mac's caters primarily to team sports, with darn near everything you need for baseball, softball, football, hockey, soccer, lacrosse and, yes, cheerleading. The store also specializes in custom uniforms… More >>
  • Best Skate Shop

    Infinity Skateshop

    Skate rats don't care about gimmicky watches and sunglasses, snowboards, fashionable clothing or the latest shoes in a bazillion different colors. They simply want to get what they need without having to deal with 40-year-old geezers and non-skating teenage girls trying to peddle shit they know nothing about. For six years Jason Ebenrick's Infinity Skateshop has catered to the core… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor

    Goldenlands Tattoos and Accessories

    Ink spots staffed by purple-haired, barbell-lipped anarchists are so 2004! Make getting your next tat a family affair at Goldenlands Tattoos and Accessories. Founded by brothers Gary and Mitch Glatstein in 1988, Goldenlands goes above and beyond the cleanliness call of duty, and while most pain huts might offer one wall or set of flippable posters, the Brothers Glatstein provide… More >>
  • Best Body Piercing

    Cheap TRX

    Ready for a piercing, are we? You've prayed on it. Now you're ready to plunk down your jack and part your flesh with a piece of steel. Poke your head (or whatever part you plan to puncture) into Cheap TRX, South Grand's piercing emporium. Navel or tongue, brow or labret -- if you can pinch it, they will pierce it.… More >>
  • Best Tobacconist

    G.A.D. Cigars

    In the realm of tobacconists, there are cigar shops, and then there's G.A.D. Cigars. Founded five years ago by Baton Rouge transplant George Duvic, the cigar shop on the Hill consists of one enormous humidor. G.A.D. has even contracted with a Honduran cigar maker to create its own "G.A.D. Cigar," a smoky confection available in many forms. But the shop… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store


    If you're looking for a bottle of Captain Morgan's, by all means try Schnucks. But if you're one of those rare imbibers who relish the honeyed punch of aged rum, you'd do better to lift your snifter toward Starrs. The store, which also carries a small selection of gourmet goods, boasts one heck of a liquor cabinet. The beer selection… More >>
  • Best Wine Store

    33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar

    Notes from a wine sociopath, as written by 33 owner Jake Hafner (this year's Best Bartender), reprinted (without permission) from his four-year-old wine shop's fifteen-page wine/beer/cheese list: — "We have over 600 wine selections on our extended wine list.... Wines are stored at 55 degrees, according to principles taught in my first wine class." — "Riesling has long… More >>
  • Best Adult Video Store

    Spankys Video

    It was very late and we were very bored and Hemingway suggested we rent a porn. It was a very good idea. We got a taxi and went across the very wide river to the east side but Hemingway said no. He said we must go somewhere else. We were almost there already but he said, "You do not understand.… More >>
  • Spankys Gifts

    Best Place to Buy Sex Toys

    Spankys Gifts

    One might think that St. Louisans didn't purchase sex toys until 2001, the year this here particular category first began appearing in our annual kudosfest. But purchase them we do, and there's no better place to stock up on vibrating remote-control panties, glass phalli and Rabbits both Jack and iVibe than Spankys Gifts. Open 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    Riverbend Flea Market

    Like any standout bazaar, the Riverbend Flea Market in Alton proffers a hodgepodge of the predictable -- cheesy cell-phone skins, T-shirts you wouldn't be caught dead cleaning your bathroom in, woefully faux designer handbags -- and the unexpected. That batch of goodies includes fireplugs-cum-lawn ornaments, martini glasses hand-blown in Romania and a whole caboodle of Japanese anime. Sure, it's not… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Unique Thrift

    Hell, we might as well bestow the crossroads of St. Charles Rock Road and Lynntown Drive with the Best Thrift Intersection award. Not only can you pinch your pennies at Family Dollar, Aldi's and Rocky Road Thrift Store, but these wallet-friendly four corners are also home to Unique Thrift. Worth the trip for its selection of potholders alone, Unique Thrift… More >>
  • Best Junk Store

    Isn't It Grand

    Long before South Grand was deemed a "Loop," Just Pictures was a frame shop that morphed into a junk store occupying three storefronts in the block between Connecticut and Wyoming streets. Today the place has shrunk to two storefronts and changed its name to Isn't It Grand -- and it's still this town's most authentic junk store. After sneaking past… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Used Clothing

    Value Village Thrift Store

    From utilitarian to Halloween to high-end clothing, one place is guaranteed to have it all. Tucked into the backside of Kenrick Plaza, Value Village Thrift Store's Shrewsbury outpost (one of three VVTSes) is better than a department store when it comes to all manner of clothes shopping. Not only are sections precisely divided (Men, Women, Children), but they're organized and… More >>
  • Best Virtual Boutique


    When most girls are little, they dream about growing up to be princesses and supermodels, picture-perfect brides and pageant queens. When 35-year-old Lou native Beqi Brinkhorst was a kid, she dreamed of running her own business. Brinkhorst fulfilled that childhood fantasy five years ago, when she ditched her graphic-arts career to start up her self-titled, retro-femme clothing line and Web… More >>
  • Best Gift Store

    Plowsharing Crafts

    You just got the dinner invite -- another birthday. You know what you should do: Head to the "Best Art Supply Store," pick up some materials and march right home to fashion a homemade card from the heart that will be pretty enough to frame. Yeah, right. You know what you're tempted to do: the old reliable Insert Amount Here… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Your Mother a Teapot


    Cornucopia is a charming little shop in the heart of downtown Kirkwood that appears to contain every kitchen utensil ever created. An afternoon spent browsing in the closely packed aisles turned up glassware, cookie cutters for every holiday and a very impressive selection of coffees and teas. But what made the trip worthwhile was the teapots. Glass, steel, ceramic --… More >>
  • Best Antique Store

    Antique Menagerie

    Some so-called antique stores scare our pants off, so packed are they with ancient kitchen utensils and cracked china dolls, so filled to the brim with rusty this and half-broken that. What if everything came to life, The Sorcerer's Apprentice-style, and knocked us unconscious? That's no way to go. And so we're absolutely delighted by Antique Menagerie, where everything is… More >>
  • Best Kitchen Kitsch


    Ever find yourself wandering dazed through Bed Bath & Beyond, dreaming about how cool and cozy your abode would be if only you owned this cake caddy or that set of butter warmers? If so, do yourself a favor and avoid Hearthbeats. Not only will your heart go all a-flutter at the sight of the selection of antique cooking and… More >>
  • Studio Flora

    Best Florist

    Studio Flora

    Three years ago Lori Cox was robbed at gunpoint coming out of her new Lafayette Square shop, Studio Flora, on the eve of its grand-opening bash. She threw the party anyway -- and the karma at her adorable floral outpost has been splendid ever since. Cox grew up identifying flowers before foods. Her grandparents were florists on "Flower Row" off… More >>

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