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  • Best Mall

    Crestwood Court

    A banner stretches across the easternmost façade of Crestwood Court (formerly Crestwood Mall), facing Watson Road. It advertises 17,000 feet of open retail space available. Losing an anchor store often spells disaster for a mall, but for Crestwood Court, losing Dillard's in 2007 just meant finding a new port. Inside, banners hang from the ceiling, imploring visitors to "Imagine," "Amuse,"… More >>
  • Best Baby Store

    Cotton Babies

    If you are not overwhelmed (OK, terrified) at the concept of having your first baby, have someone check your pulse to make sure you're alive. Walking into a baby superstore does not help the situation. With so many products to choose from, how can the expectant parent zero in on what to get? That's why it's so nice to walk into a store… More >>
  • Best Pet Store

    Pets in the City

    You think it's easy being someone's pet? Sure, you get a home and free food and lots of love, but it all comes at a price: the never-ending cuteness. It's hard work. You spend so much time practicing cute facial expressions, cute ways to cock your head and roll around on the floor, and cute strategies for getting out of… More >>
  • Best Toy Store

    Go! Toys & Games

    It's a sad fact that shopping for toys is so often a buzzkill. Preachy, finger-wagging signs are everywhere: "Parents, watch your kids." "Don't touch!" "You break it, you buy it!" Ugh. But at Go! Toys & Games, there's this placard right near the entrance: "Go! Ahead play with any game on the display tables." Don't mind if we do. In… More >>
  • Best Place for a Kid's Birthday Party

    The Magic House

    When deciding what to do to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of one's child, there are many options. One popular option is to have a big celebration at home. This usually involves decorating with streamers and balloons, hiring some form of mildly entertaining entertainment and hosting a number of screaming kids who rummage through rooms, break lamps and generally… More >>
  • Best Place for a GrownUp's Birthday Party

    South Broadway Athletic Club

    The further up the ladder of aging you climb, the stranger the attitudes about a birthday party: Some people run from the inevitable and reject the idea of celebrating, reducing birthday wishes to Facebook pokes and a phone call from Mom and Dad; others decide that parties are just fine by them. That first group is no fun. The second… More >>
  • Best Gift Shop

    k. hall designs

    The giftie bath products of k. hall designs grace shelves in upscale boutiques across the nation, but cooler still is how at home all these handmade gifts look at k. hall's own retail shop in Brentwood. Pomegranate...Egyptian jasmine...grapefruit mint...and the classic, milk...the heavenly scents make you want to curl up on one of the decorative window seats and spend the… More >>
  • Best Personalized Gifts

    Looking Glass Designs

    Andrea Heugatter used to be a technical writer (specialty: engineering) at Washington University. But she said goodbye to all that last year in order to better employ her eye for detail: making cute little-somethings for people who have everything. At her Lafayette Square shop, Looking Glass Designs, Heugatter now punches away all day at a sewing machine, stitching custom messages… More >>
  • Best Antique Store

    Prairie Peddler Antiques

    Alton has long been a magnet for area antique seekers, and Prairie Peddler owners Fred Dirk and Greg Levy have been drawing customers to their store for 30 years now. Last flood they finally had enough of inundation, so they moved to higher ground a few blocks away. Grain elevators no longer block out the sun; the new location is full… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    Belleville Flea Market

    Belleville is a beautiful town, full of cool old buildings and white asparagus. But its greatest allure must be the flea market held on the third full weekend of each month in Belle Clair Fairgrounds Park. This is a gargantuan, sprawling bazaar, and to get to the transaction you must first wend your way through many furlongs of parked trucks.… More >>
  • Best Junk Store

    T.F.A.

    This isn't the sort of junk store where your fingers get smudged with dust and rust. Incubators need to be clean, and the junk here is indeed incubating. In another 40 to 60 years, it will all hatch into highly desirable antiques. Thus the name of this "retroplex." The household items that didn't sell during your Grandma Gertrude's estate sale… More >>
  • Best Wine Store

    Bon Vivant Wines

    Yes, we really are suggesting that if you want the best wine-shopping experience in the St. Louis area, you're likely to find it in Columbia, Illinois, at Bon Vivant Wines. Not just because owner Andrew Traughber is a really nice guy and incredibly knowledgeable (though he is indeed both). Fact is, Bon Vivant offers one of the most interesting, eclectic,… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Used Clothing

    ScholarShop

    To be fair, clothing from ScholarShop doesn't seem so much used as bequeathed — passed down from a kindly, well-to-do and oh-so-fashionable relative who simply did not have any more room in the closet, darling. Need a tweed topcoat? A satin skirt? A Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, a pristine Cavalli jacket, a Gucci suit that will make everyone at… More >>
  • Best T-Shirts

    STL-Style

    What makes a T-shirt cool? A witty political pun? A metal band's album art? The words "American" and "Apparel"? Wolves? For two St. Louis-loving brothers, the answer is usually found somewhere east of Skinker. STL-Style cocreators Jeff and Randy Vines turned their passion for everything St. Louis — its idiosyncrasies and its imperfections — into preshrunk 100 percent cotton garments… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Feed My People

    The biblical ring to the name of this thrift store near Jefferson Barracks Park makes it hard to remember. It's easy to say, "Let's go check out Let My People Go," or "We haven't been to Alms for the Poor in a while," when planning a day of bargain hunting with pals. You may forget its name, but once you've… More >>
  • Best Dollar Store

    Family Dollar

    The Family Dollar store at the corner of McCausland and Manchester avenues doesn't feel like a dollar store at all. How so? The place is eat-off-the-floor clean and better organized than a library. It's also chock-full of name-brand items you wouldn't expect to find at a dollar store. Dove and Oil of Olay soap? Check. Yummy-smelling Herbal Essences shampoo? Got it.… More >>
  • Best Furniture Store

    Good Works Outlet

    Watched local TV anytime in the past year? Then you know we're a town that likes our furniture to play hard to get as an advertising strategy. Goedeker's? Not open on Sunday. Weekends Only? Opposite approach (it's even in the name of the store). The Good Works Outlet just a few blocks north of the Delmar Loop is even more… More >>
  • Best Frame Shop

    Dogtown Gallery & Frame Shop

    A quaint storefront in the heart of Dogtown's business district at Clayton and Tamm avenues, Dogtown Gallery & Frame Shop is just as colorful as the vibrant city scenes showcased within the frames themselves. Colorful, too, is co-owner Jaynelle Haynes. After just a few trips in, she'll surely remember you, and even if your return visit was prompted by a… More >>
  • Best Art Supplies

    Artmart

    Sometimes appearances do lie. You may look like a dull old cubicle jockey, but inside you are an artist! If Picasso had been forced to work exclusively in PowerPoint, he woulda been no great shakes, either. So you head out to Artmart, with its endless rows of brushes and canvases and tubes of paint and helpful salespeople who can explain… More >>
  • Best Musical Instrument Store

    Skip Goez Stringed Instrument Sales and Restoration

    Skip Goez isn't your typical music store in the sense of vast selection, screaming deals on shimmery new merchandise or the sound of novice ax-wielders hammering out their latest guitar-tab conquests. It is, however, a terrific little store boasting hard-to-find gems in the form of vintage electric and acoustic guitars and classic tube amplifiers. But not even that tells the… More >>
  • Best Yarn Store

    Knitty Couture

    Knitters in general are crazy about color. They obsess over it. They blog about it. They need to manipulate it in the form of yarn as often as possible. Knitty Couture owner Thi Miller has a background in psychology, so she makes the most of this mania: Open the door of her stylish shop in the Delmar Loop and you… More >>
  • Best Fabric Store

    Jackman's Fabrics

    Fabric stores are going out of style. Big time. But walking into Jackman's Fabrics is like stepping into an entire garment district circa 1923. It's humongous. It's bustling. It's teeming with (mostly) little-old-lady workers who might not know who's on the cover of the current Vogue but can locate you a batiste, a batik or a basket weave in no… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    The Wine & Cheese Place

    Don't be fooled by the fancy name. There's enough booze at the Clayton outpost of local chain the Wine & Cheese Place to stock the green room at a Guns N' Roses reunion tour. While the vast wine selection and cheese counter are the flagship attractions, the liquor aisle is a sight to behold, particularly for those in search of… More >>
  • Best Book Store (Independent)

    Left Bank Books

    The "people don't read anymore" trope dates back to about a week after the advent of publishing, and today humanity publishes more books per annum than in all recorded history. People read. Or at least, people make books, and people buy books. Book retail has always been the eccentric nephew of the retail world. That's wrong. Left Bank Books proves… More >>
  • Best Book Store (Chain)

    Barnes & Noble - CLOSED

    The best bookstores have a certain feel when you walk in. There's a particular hush in the air, one that really only seems to exist in bookstores and libraries, and you can immediately feel it. Barnes & Noble's got that hush, that almost sacred calm, and it's really no wonder most devoted bibliophiles swear by the giant. Virtually all the… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy African American Literature

    VOICES Books on Wheels

    Thursday, 4 p.m. Them chickenhead girlfriends of yours gone and canceled again! And you was so looking forward to flossing all you got Friday night! Now you'll be sittin' home thinking about all the hos rockin' they Gucci and Prada in front of that fly fellow from the club last week. Damn, girl! Is this for real? What you gon'… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Store

    Star Clipper

    Even if you haven't stepped inside a comic book store since Rob Liefeld was the primary artist behind X-Force, a ragtag group of Marvel mutants led by a then still-mortal and atrophy-ankled antihero named Cable, a quick visit to Star Clipper on Delmar should set you straight. The staff is among the most knowledgeable, helpful and enthusiastic bunch of employees… More >>
  • Best Used Book Store

    Hammond's Antiques & Books

    Do you remember your first bibliolove? You came across it at the library one lonely afternoon and were smitten. Before long you and the book were inseparable. You cradled it in your arms as you walked to school, clutched it beneath your desk during math class, shared your bed with it every night. You fixed anyone else who even looked… More >>
  • Best Runners' Store

    Fleet Feet Sports

    As the story goes, Fleet Feet Sports owner David Spetnagel got the urge to open his first shop after a trip to another store for some racing flats resulted in some looks and remarks that seemed to say, "You don't belong here!" Now, with three locations of his own, staffed with the friendliest running enthusiasts in town, he's doing as… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    St. Louis Bicycle Co.

    Most folks can't ride their bikes to St. Louis Bicycle Co., but its location in far west county is worth the trip in the ol' gas guzzler. This inviting bike shop carries three cult-favorite brands — Scott, Jamis and Independent Fabrication — as well as all manner of accoutrements. What really sets St. Louis Bicycle Co. apart, though, is the… More >>
  • Best Golf Shop

    Golf Galaxy

    Bringing up the flaws in someone else's golf game is sensitive business, and unless you're a certified club pro, it probably isn't wise to interject. Chances are your game needs some work, too, bub, and people in glass (club)houses shouldn't throw stones and all that. But let's face it: Your golf buddy's really got issues. He's got the passion, but… More >>
  • Best Sporting Goods Store

    Play It Again Sports

    Any athlete, young or old, will tell you that good equipment is key. Any athlete will also tell you that good equipment can take a big chunk out of a wallet. And when it comes to sports equipment, new doesn't always equate to good, and a lot of gear can benefit from a little breaking in (athletic supporters and mouth… More >>
  • Best Skate Shop

    S.O.K.A. Skate & Snow

    Modern skateboarding is in its forties now, and like lots of middle-agers, it's now firmly based in the suburbs. That's where all the best skateparks are and most of the shops (and if you're a retailer, most of the customers). That's why in 2005, S.O.K.A. Skate & Snow opened its second location at the end of a strip mall near… More >>
  • Best Tobacconist

    Jon's Pipe Shop

    Tucked in a storefront at the north edge of what passes for Clayton's downtown, Jon's Pipe Shop has a mahogany-and-oak interior straight from the nineteenth century. The shop stocks hundreds of cigar varieties and is tended by a staff that's capable of conversing just as gregariously with the newcomer as with the seasoned connoisseur. It may well be that our… More >>
  • Best Gun Shop

    Bass Pro Shops

    You won't be heading home with that Magnum Research Mark XIX Desert Eagle .50 Action Express you've been hankering for. But for the more reasonable gun enthusiast, Bass Pro is the Old Country Buffet of firearms. It's here, at the nexus of all things fishing-related, that you'll find an entire wall devoted exclusively to guns. Whether you're looking to hit… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    New Market Hardware

    OK, let's get it out of the way right off the bat: If you've only got the weekend to build a lanai, rewire the basement and insulate the attic, and you've only got time for one tools-and-materials-gathering trip, you're going to end up in the checkout line at the closest Lowe's Depot along with every other Visa-toting Bob Vila wannabe.… More >>
  • Best Garden Center

    Rolling Ridge Nursery

    The venerable Rolling Ridge Nursery turned 50 years old this year. Housed in an architecturally stunning building that once was an old stable, this greenhouse and nursery is as aesthetically pleasing as it is comprehensive. The store is broken into four main sections. There's the tree lot out back, hedges and landscaping bushes along the side of the store, a… More >>
  • Best Electronics

    Gateway Electronics

    Ha! You thought we were going to tell you where best to drop four-plus grand on a behemoth Sony/Sanyo/LG 1080 something or other so you could see every detail of Bulger hitting the turf again and again. Forget it! You've been downsized, and you don't need to be adding to either deficit — our collective foreign-trade one or your own… More >>
  • Best Computer Repair

    Clayton Computer

    When Joni Mitchell sang, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone," she was referring to an unfortunate paradise-for-parking-lot switcheroo. She could, however, just as easily have been singing about a total computer meltdown. One day your computer is humming along perfectly, its healthy motherboard allowing you to download music, update a PowerPoint presentation and tweet like a son… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Crystal Clear Wash

    You had a clunker; you got some cash. Good for you. Only problem is you didn't really get enough cash. Now, you have this great new car — and a big ol' car payment. You want to keep the new ride looking nice and squeaky clean, but you can't drop $25 every week on a wash. Seeing as how there… More >>
  • Best Florist

    Sisters Flowers

    Creating beautiful, artful floral arrangements is difficult enough. After all, flowers may be lovely on their own, but it takes talent, creativity and skill to combine them in a way that moves beyond sentimentality toward true elegance. The staff at Sisters Flowers can, indeed, create such arrangements. But here's what else is beautiful and artful about Sisters: their dedication to… More >>
  • Best Newsstand

    World News Ltd.

    In the mood to peruse newsprint in Italian, Spanish, French, Arabic or Greek? At World News Ltd., across Central Avenue from Clayton City Hall, the Selvidge family has been hawking American and international dailies since 1967. The magazine racks take up half the store and cover a wide spectrum: fashion and photography, sports and science, cars and current events. An… More >>
  • Best Jewelry Store

    Charm Boutique

    Admit it: A pair of earrings has called your name. A bracelet has jumped onto your wrist. A necklace has yanked you back into a store. It's like a holdup when it happens: I'll make you pretty and happy! Now just hand over that $500! Easy does it! Fortunately, the acquisition costs of adding to the ol' trousseau have become… More >>
  • Best Pawn Shop

    Bel-Air Pawn Shop, Inc.

    Bel-Air Pawn Shop, located deep in the belly of south St. Louis, has everything a great pawn shop needs. It's big, and it houses an eclectic inventory — everything from the obligatory musical instrument and stereo equipment section to bicycles and televisions and a sizable selection of lawn mowers, leaf blowers and power tools. The sprawling, windowless warehouse of wants… More >>
  • Best CD/Record Store

    Vintage Vinyl

    What sets Vintage Vinyl apart from other record stores in the area is a commitment to local music. It's not merely the unparalleled selection of records from St. Louis artists that the store (a virtual landmark in the Delmar Loop after nearly three decades in business) keeps stocked on its shelves. No, this year the folks at Vintage continued to… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Sex Toys

    CheapTRX

    "Convenient" isn't an adjective you'd couple with "sex-toy store." They don't have a drive-through window. They're not in the same strip mall as the grocery store and the bank. Unless you have truly omnivorous appetites, the ratio of merchandise you want to merchandise you don't is about 1:200. The beauty of CheapTRX is that it's like a sex-toy convenience store,… More >>
  • Best Adult Video Store

    Romantix Intimate Boutique

    Porn has become so entrenched in mainstream pop culture that it shouldn't surprise you to find that Romantix looks more like a Target or Walgreens than the back-alley smut peddler of generations past. The store has a brightly lighted and, uh, wide-open layout, and the staff is friendly but not intrusive. The video selection is back and to the left,… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor

    Iron Age Studios

    Back in 1947 an advertising copywriter named Frances Gerety dreamed up the slogan "A Diamond is Forever" for De Beers. With all apologies to Ms. Gerety, this just ain't true. Diamonds get lost. They get stolen. They disappear in oceans and swimming pools or fall down drains. They get thrown back in the givers' faces. No, a diamond is not… More >>
  • Best Body Piercing

    Claire's Accessories

    We all know about the various bodily regions where a human being can have an extra hole poked, and "Best of" issues past have explored the various area emporia where such procedures are offered. So forgive us if we go a little off-road here. Of all the rites of passage in a young girl's life, few are as special —… More >>
  • Best CD Store (Used)

    Euclid Records - CLOSED

    For reasons that should be obvious, the best used record stores are generally located in close proximity to a college campus. Euclid Records, nestled just steps away from the green academic pastures of Webster University, is no exception. Its constant influx of nearly new CD titles gives it the best selection in the city. But that only accounts for what… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Vinyl

    The Record Exchange

    As music distribution becomes increasingly digitized, vinyl records — those big, flimsy slabs that CDs were supposed to have made obsolete — have managed to hang on, even experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Chalk it up to nostalgia, fetishism or sound quality, but selling music in twelve-inch increments remains big business. For experienced crate diggers and neophytes alike, the Record… More >>
  • Best Lingerie

    Urban Fox

    A good piece of lingerie should be a little bad, right? Sure. But what if there happened to exist a bad little number that also made you feel really, really good? Good about buying something handmade, right here in the Lou. Good about wearing something soft, yet crafted from sustainable and organic material. Still sound attractive? Urban Fox has your… More >>
  • Best Bridal Shop

    Bridal Connections

    Mermaid dresses no longer create a splash, and even A-lines don't always make the grade. A harried bride needs the gentle opinion of someone who's not Mom, and she'll get it at Bridal Connections, where the endearing "honey"s from the attendants are dropped as gently as petals down an aisle, and testimonials are tacked up here and there in the… More >>
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