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  • Best Furniture Store

    Design Within Reach - CLOSED

    We thought St. Louis had arrived when Urban Outfitters and H&M came to town, and we thought we were pretty cool when Anthropologie opened. Yep, and we felt extra-special with a Crate & Barrel and a Whole Foods Market, not to mention four Trader Joe's. But now that we have a Design Within Reach, we know St. Louis' shopping market… More >>
  • Best Kitchen Store

    Kitchen Conservatory

    Kitchen Conservatory smells like home. Like childhood. No, our formative days didn't carry the aroma of an All-Clad tagine (a gorgeous interpretation of Morocco's key cooking vessel), nor did we gather round the Emile Henry flame-top ceramic Dutch oven. But we did hunker over our homework—or sit down to a heated game of Battleship—while the heady smell of roasted chicken… More >>
  • Best Knife Sharpener

    Bertarelli Cutlery

    Felice (pronounced fay-lee-chay) Bertarelli started his knife-sharpening business out of his garage on Macklind Avenue back in 1967. He relocated to Carisolo, Italy, five years ago, but his artistry runs in the Bertarelli blood. Today son John and grandson Dan will expertly sharpen any of your blades for just $3 a pop—and while you wait, if you come in before… More >>
  • Best Electronics for the Audiophile

    Music for Pleasure

    We have many ways of pleasuring ourselves—be it with smoke, drink, gambling, adult toys, whathaveya. To the audiophile, "adult toys" means hi-fi gear. Really, really expensive hi-fi gear. And there's no shortage of local vendors. The Sound Room offers rooms of sound, Best Sound can hook you up with some pretty decent sound, and Hi-Fi Fo-Fum is large and in… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    General Grant Car Wash

    We all know our car seems to run better after it's washed. But after a thorough scrubbing at General Grant Car Wash, our treasured jalopy also seems to have grown a little younger. The minds behind this sparkling palace, dedicated to automotive hygiene, take the fine art of the car wash very seriously—and they have it down to a science.… More >>
  • Best Florist

    Pick Flower Gallery - CLOSED

    Mayer the long-haired dachshund wants to know what we've brought into Pick. His buddy, a regal-looking standard poodle named Charlie, seems to have the same question. Clint Lunn, who sees to both the shop and the pups, laughs. "You guys got food in that bag?" Actually, it's wine, purchased from Pick's around-the-corner neighbor Brennan's. The dogs are momentarily bummed. We,… More >>
  • Best Garden Center

    University Gardens

    University Gardens is turning a molehill into a mountain. At the corner of Delmar and Old Bonhomme Road, they've managed to transform a small urban hillside into a pretty city peak. This is just the sort of thing we need for our yards. Yup, we've got molehill lawns with mountain dreams, and University Gardens has the goods to make those… More >>
  • Best Bead Store

    B&J Rock Shop

    The new Sundance catalogue arrived and you started thinking: Oooh, pretty, I want to do that! Well, the women at B&J Rock shop think you can. In fact, if you ask em real nice, they may even show you how. There are no classes to sign up for, just friendly one-on-one tutoring straight over the counter. Anytime. For your wearable… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Scrapbooking Supplies

    Red Lead

    The beauty of Red Lead becomes apparent on a typical Saturday afternoon: After yet another demo on some intricacy of the scrapbooking arts wraps up, the crowd doesn't leave but instead disperses to browse the wall racks and aisles of paper, the massive stockpile of rubber stamps and ink pads that ring the room (antique, chalk, cat's eye, full pad—Red… More >>
  • Best Art Supplies

    Dick Blick Art Materials

    Ardent Dick Blick devotees—and there are many—don't care a whit that it's a chain with locations in fifteen states. And why doesn't it offend their creative, innovative, sensitive souls to throw their money around there? Because Dick Blick's products are as top-of-the-line as top-of-the-line gets, and the company's history couldn't be more mom-and-pop. Mr. and Mrs. Dick Blick first began… More >>
  • Best Paper Store

    Stephen Kinsella Inc.

    Gone are the days when your finest artworks were created on white kraft paper. You don't hang your work on the fridge anymore, so why shouldn't you up the class of the medium? But finding the perfect paper is difficult—unless you know the professional's secret: Stephen Kinsella Fine Art Papers. But professionals know that Kinsella's is not the sort of… More >>
  • Best Frame Shop

    Soulard Picture Framing

    Do you know anything about framing? You don't, do you? And yet you blindly, ignorantly continue a ruin-it-yourself philosophy. You enter [insert discount store name], grab a $10 clunker, some masking tape and construction paper, then go home and start hacking away until you've so humiliated the memory of Auntie June that her entire bloodline, living and dead, weeps. You… More >>
  • Best Craft Store

    Schaefer's Hobby Shop

    Art-supply stores are all well and good for Robert Rauschenberg wannabes, but what about those of us who just want to knit a chenille throw or mosaic a birdbath? Have no fear, li'l crafter, Schaefer's Hobby Shop is here! Need to bejewel a cell phone? Behold Schaefer's reserve of Swarovski crystals. Want to declare an allegiance to Jeff Smith? Invest… More >>
  • Best CD/Record Store

    Euclid Records - CLOSED

    Back in the day, the quality of a college town's record store determined whether the burg made the grade or failed Hip Amenities 101. But although brick-and-mortar establishments are going the way of the Walkman (and Discman), Euclid Records is a throwback to a simpler time, when knowledgeable clerks and tangible album artwork mattered. A bright, homey store tucked near… More >>
  • Best CD Store (Used)

    Slackers CD's & Games

    It's easy to identify the hallmarks of an excellent used CD store: low prices, quality product and diversity of selection. St. Louis has no shortage of unwanted-disc graveyards, but the various outposts of Slackers CD's & Games hit all three prerequisites, and hard. This small chain's bread-and-butter is video games and DVDs, but the music section is by no means… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Vinyl

    Record Exchange

    If you can't find the LP you're looking for at the Record Exchange, then you're not looking hard enough. The store (which in another lifetime was a public library branch) boasts towering stacks of vinyl in nearly every nook and cranny of its cavernous space. Those LPs, arranged alphabetically via genre (rock, metal, alternative, etc.) in neat racks, are generally… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Metal

    Now Hear This

    Scouring Web sites and figuring out international payment plans just to get your bloody gauntlets on a copy of Deathspell Omega's first album is an awful lot of work, but you're a devoted member of the cult: It's what you do to get what you need. Or you can just drive over to the spruced-up downtown of Kirkwood, Missouri, and… More >>
  • Best Video/DVD Rental

    Hollywood Video

    If you're in search of entire walls filled with crappy new releases—go to Blockbuster. If you want a video store dedicated to genres, go to Hollywood Video, specifically the one at South Grand Boulevard and Hartford Street. You'll find everything from under-the-radar modern classics like Bound and Spun to foreign flicks like Japón and Europa Europa to delicious tripe like… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Lukas Liquors Superstore

    We, uh, know someone whose recent grocery list read something like this: produce—peach schnapps, Stoli Blueberi; bakery—Frangelico, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur; dairy—Bailey's; ethnic aisle—sake, Sauza; breakfast aisle—Cristal, bloody mary mix; frozen foods—chilled Jager, alco-pops; seasonal aisle—drink-holder lawn chairs, Jack Daniel's wood chips; canned goods—beer; wine—lots; salad bar —make-your-own six-pack; household—Koozies, wine-glass tags; toiletries—travel flasks, mini bottles.... Our, uh, pal checked off… More >>
  • Best Wine Store

    The Wine & Cheese Place

    It's really not just the Wine & Cheese Place. Properly labeled, this store is the Wine & Cheese & Pasta & Glassware & Crackers & Spreads & Olive Oil & Nuts & Gourmet Goodies & Chocolate & Liquor & Lots of Fancy Beers Place. It's along the lines of what we think of when we think "gift shop for our… More >>
  • Best Tobacconist

    Jon's Pipe Shop

    Sure, "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards" and all that rot. But as those niggling sparks ascend, so too does the smoke. And it is in the smoking that solace can be found. The drudgery of work, the idiocy of our fellow man, the repetitive lunacy of life—it all fades from mind when one's head is… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Society of St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store

    All too often, thrift-store bargain hunting is like pearl-diving through tar. But not at the Society of St. Vincent De Paul's second-hand emporia, where the practice more closely resembles a leisurely stroll through the Garden of Great Buys. Best of all is the society's Central West End thrift store branch, far cleaner and more well-ordered than your average fleabitten bargain… More >>
  • Best Baby Store

    The Purple Cow Kids Resale

    It's a dilemma, buying kids' clothes: On the one hand, you don't want to spend the college fund on clothes they'll grow out of in a couple of months. On the other hand, the clothes are so darn cute! Consignment shops provide one solution, but they're often hit-or-miss when it comes to selection and quality. Not the Purple Cow. On… More >>
  • Best Toy Store

    A Pocketful of Toys

    It would be easy to award "Best Toy Store" to a corporate giant. And while we've never been ones to refuse a solid soul-sale, we draw the line when it comes to kids. After all, it has been rumored that the chilluns are our future, and it is society's responsibility to wrestle away those Barbies and Grand Theft Autos. With… More >>
  • Best Gift Shop

    Garden Gate Shop

    Talk about your symbiotic marketing! You've just toured the verdant Missouri Botanical Garden. There's a name for your condition: You're plant-crazy, convinced that you too will soon be a master gardener. On your way out, you decide to stop off at the gift shop—just to browse, of course. By then it's already too late. Before you know it, you're scooping… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Cheap Gifts

    Dollar Tree

    It seems like every time you open the mail, you're invited to some kind of party that requires a present—showers, dinners, birthday parties, and on and on. And when the end of the year rolls around, the Etiquette Police want you to bestow gratitude gifts to a burgeoning variety of service-providing folks. That's why you should shop at Dollar Tree.… More >>
  • Best Antique Store

    R. Ege Antiques

    R. Ege is as much a curio museum as it is an antique store, and its curator is one Rick Ege, whose eye for detail is second to none. Ege's eye for art, artifacts and ephemera—from carnival items to tramp art, from apothecary supplies to vintage sporting equipment to antique robots—is rivaled only by his ability to perfectly place each… More >>
  • Best Vintage Store

    Retro 101

    At every good vintage store, there's that thing. A hey-wait-how-weird item that everyone comments upon but no one ever buys. At Retro 101, that thing is a Brooke Shields doll, circa The Blue Lagoon. The doe-eyed, Barbie-size Brooke lives out her tiny days in her original packaging, in a small niche next to Retro 101's basement stairs. We enjoy spending… More >>
  • Best Lingerie

    Jule

    You could be bashful and order online from this itty-bitty, three-year-old boutique, but Jule's plucky owner Jenny Hannis so politely proffers her opinions of what looks naughty and nice that it's hard to resist the trip to see her. Hannis keeps the oh-so-cute Cosabella on the racks, along with Eberjey, Aubade and numerous other upmarket brands. Depending on the budget,… More >>
  • Best Boutique

    TheTime

    Hey, conformist! I really love those aviators and that tunic—and did you pick up those Crocs at a mall kiosk? Of course you did, 'cause you're a freakin' slave to the Galleria! What's that? You like my Kara Janx kimono dress? Well, thank you; I try to avoid looking like every third person I pass on the street. I picked… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Used Clothing

    Women's Closet Exchange

    You know how some people say that if you travel to Rome or Naples and mention the Hill, the indigenous I-ties over there will not only recognize the famed nabe by name, but will also ooh and ahh about it and its storied glory? It's kinda like what happens if you go to certain fashion houses or high-end-label hot spots… More >>
  • Best Mall

    Westfield West County

    Shopping is such a cathartic, empowering experience, it's a wonder there aren't more songs about the joys of going out and spending money. Few sensations compare with the feeling of accomplishment that comes from walking into a store empty-handed and walking out with a bag (or eight). Especially if you're taking care of business at Westfield West County. This joint… More >>
  • Best Place to Go When You've Got a Screw Loose

    Hanneke Hardware

    The wheel gets all the credit—the magazine covers, the groupies, the endorsement offers—but when it comes to simple machines, the screw's the one that holds the world together. Screws are everywhere and in everything, from the buildings we live and work in to the cars we drive to the devices and tools we use. When one gets lost, things can… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    New Market Hardware Company

    If you want to save some time and give money to people rather than corporations, go to New Market Hardware, which has been in business for 93 years on the corner of Laclede and Sarah. Here's a typical interaction: You walk in and a man appears to help you. You tell him you want to store bikes on hooks affixed… More >>
  • Best Musical Instrument Store

    Drum Headquarters - CLOSED

    From kicks, crashes, rides and snares to djembes, congas and dumbeks, Drum Headquarters more than lives up to its name. With an extensive inventory, competitive prices, a knowledgeable and experienced staff, and local ownership—founder Rob Birenbaum sold out to longtime manager Jim Uding last year—the place comes darned close to the Platonic ideal of a music store. Beginners can get… More >>
  • Best Musical Electronics Repair

    Winston Electronics

    Synthesizers, digital pianos, effects units, mixing consoles, multitrack recorders and other electronic gadgetry play an indisputably huge role in all sorts of music-making these days. Musicians may love the expanded possibilities afforded by electronics, but when that vital piece of gear suddenly goes haywire, who you gonna call? Winston Electronics, that's who. What began as a repair service for the… More >>
  • Best Computer Repair

    Bytes for a Bit

    When Jeff Phelps started Bytes for a Bit in 1993, he envisioned a career of repairing the Commodore Amiga, which he thought would become the computer of the future. Way wrong was he, but thirteen years later Phelps remains fascinated by computers, and he does a brisk business solving software and hardware problems for businesses and consumers throughout the metropolitan… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    Frison Flea Market

    In the market for a church pew? A coupla church pews? Well, what about that pulpit? If you're looking to start your own religion, outfit a rock band or source a whirlpool tub and a set of Denny's carafes, all at one location, then Frison Flea Market is for you. With up to 300 vendors, this indoor market may seem… More >>
  • Best Pawn Shop

    AJ & R Pawn Shop

    AJ & R Pawn Shop has been loaning cash on valuables on South Grand since 1974, says manager Ray Weber. He adds that the business has changed as well. "With the electronics, they've cheapened up tremendously. We used to see guys coming back from Vietnam bring in big stereo systems, but now mostly we see inexpensive shelf units. Twenty-seven-inch TVs… More >>
  • Best Newsstand

    World News Ltd.

    Still the top fix for St. Louis news junkies, this 39-year-old downtown Clayton institution is a must, whether you're looking for the commonplace or the obscure. And we do mean obscure. Where else in this town can you find the Nikkei Weekly, a leading Japanese business journal, or an erudite periodical like the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs and the… More >>
  • Best Book Store (Independent)

    Left Bank Books

    Community assets come in all shapes, sizes, genres and volumes. Some die as times and tastes and patterns change. Since 1969, against all odds, one asset has endured in spite of the mass-marketed allure of rapacious chains and the anesthetization of the American brain. Left Bank Books, born on Skinker near Delmar, now and for almost three decades at the… More >>
  • Best Book Store (Chain)

    Borders - CLOSED

    The Brentwood Borders has everything you'd expect from a major chain: ambient lighting, unobtrusive music, a coffeeshop, tables of corporate-selected reading lists. But it doesn't stop there. There's a T-Mobile Hot Spot, book signings, musical performances, a Tuesday Book Club and a fancy "Title Sleuth" computer kiosk. Those are just the trappings. The real reason this Borders wins us over… More >>
  • Best Used Book Store

    The Book House

    The joy of the used book store is in its mystery—you never know what you may find. And there isn't a used book store in town that has more mystery than the Book House. The classic example of "too much, too soon" (but in the best possible way), the Book House threatens to overwhelm first-time visitors with the sheer… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Store

    Star Clipper Comics

    Yes, Star Clipper won this award last year. And it's right next door to the office—does anyone else see an easy out for a desperate writer? Return your conspiracy theories to their upright and locked positions, please. This has nothing to with proximity and everything to do with the ruination of your free time. Star Clipper's selection of comics, graphic… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Zines

    Tension Head

    When you were a teenager mired in suburbia, it was gratifying to hit your local chain book store for a fix of subversive literature (R.I.P. Ben Is Dead). But it somehow felt wrong to buy our grubby newsprint in such a sterile environment. That's why the extensive zine selection at the rawk & roll boutique known as Tension Head warms… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    Big Shark Bicycle Company

    For every mile you ride a bicycle, you keep some amount of money, however tiny, out of the pocket of the petroleum potentates, political toadies and despots of all national stripes whose reigns depend on the depletion of natural resources. With that in mind, we rescued our three-decades-old Peugeot from the shed and took it to Big Shark, where in… More >>
  • Best Skate Shop

    Soka Skate

    Skating trends may come and go, but not only has Soka lasted eleven years in the business, it's even opened a second location in O'Fallon. "Fashion is a big part of skating now," admits Gabe, who holds down the Manchester store. So Soka's got the shirts, pants, belts, shoes and helmets to help you look the part. You say you… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Darts

    St. Louis Dart Shop

    There's something liberating about being caught in a lie. And make no mistake, we were trapped like a rat. Our preferred set of darts, the 31-gram Sharp Shooters, had gone all popcorn trying to pin a treble three (the darts had stripped each other's flights, so close was the grouping). And in the process, a shaft had been bent. Off… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor

    Evermore Gallery

    Before needle touches skin, the writing is on the wall: "Yes, it hurts." And that's only the first sign of Evermore Gallery's honesty. "Don't trust your body to the first person who walks up to the counter," advises Evermore artist Chris Hinkle. "You have to check out the artist's portfolio—look for clean lines and shading—and be sure the artist is… More >>
  • Best Body Piercing

    Allstar Tattoo

    Two-time "Best Tattoo Parlor" champ Allstar Tattoo's oft-overlooked piercing practice is so sterile even a dentist would get his nipples pierced there. Yes, the most sanitary of sadists would be content to shirtlessly slide into the chair, his skin flush against the surface of the hygienic black leather as his piercer eases him into recumbency. He would look on as… More >>
  • Best Adult Video Store

    Wherehouse Music

    The music store is spotless. There are the traditional aisles of CDs divided by genre. Past the pop/rock, heavy metal, country and easy listening, you'll find the Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy dolls, then the guitars and keyboards against the back wall. Winding around on the other side, the DVDs are similarly categorized: action/adventure, comedy, drama and, oh… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Sex Toys

    TLC Priscilla's

    It seems that, every year, "Best Place to Buy Sex Toys" has the libido of a repressed Southern Baptist schoolgirl. Sure, the winner is always kinky, but it also seems a bit ashamed, cloaking its sexuality in the murky shadows of south city. But this year, our winner is a Catholic college freshman just sent off to UC-Santa Barbara: TLC… More >>
  • Best Pet Store

    Lola & Penelope's

    When Lola & Penelope's opened in downtown Clayton last fall, offering two floors of gourmet treats, snuggly sweaters and squeaky toys, tails set to waggin'. So we're turning over this item to the experts: our office pug, Myrtle, and our resident tomcat, Franklin.Myrtle: Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Toys! Oh boy! Squishy fetch-ball! Yippee! Chew-rope! Must playplayplay. Hardwood floors!… More >>
  • Best Dog Trainer

    Absolutely Fabulous City Dogs

    Last we left Duke, unofficial canine mascot of the RFT, he'd cleaned up his act cosmetically—thanks to 2005's "Best Dog Wash," Four Muddy Paws—but was still a mess behaviorally. Group classes at the local PetSmart may have taught Duke what such commands as "sit" and "stay" mean, but the lessons didn't seem to instill in him a desire to actually… More >>
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