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  • Best Bed & Breakfast

    Grand Center Inn

    Hotels can provide a sterile reminder that, like the guy in the next-door room, you're just a lonely body in a bed that doesn't belong to you. But a stay in a bed and breakfast feels warm and personal, like your room in that house is yours, if just for one night. The Grand Center Inn (formerly the Meriwether Mansion)… More >>
  • Best Hotel

    Four Seasons St. Louis

    The term "staycation" is so 2008 — but, hey, you know what else is so 2008? The current economy. Gone are the transatlantic flights, the weekends in Manhattan, the multiday Disney World expeditions. This is a time for brown-bagging lunch and busting out those Excel skills to create a monthly family budget. But because responsibility should be rewarded, we're recommending… More >>
  • Best Place to Dress Up

    Memory Lane, Fabric Plus and Robert Schmidt Costumes

    Sandi Blair's three adjacent stores occupy virtually an entire block of downtown Wood River, Illinois. Memory Lane is a special-occasion boutique that focuses on bridal and prom wear — with an extra emphasis on the hoop skirts that are a tradition at local high school dances. Fabric Plus carries the colorful bolts of leftover laces and taffetas used by the… More >>
  • Best Junk Store

    Grandma's Attic

    Helen David was 72 when she went into business. She decided to open Grandma's Attic because, she says, "I'd always wanted to do it and figured it's now or never!" At 78, David continues to man her modestly sized storefront five days a week, selling everything from cheap clothes and lamps to trinkets and kitchenware as far as the eye… More >>
  • Best Mall

    Saint Louis Galleria

    Hosanna, hosanna! Nordstrom has finally arrived at the Saint Louis Galleria! Only three years behind schedule, but hey: Some things in life are worth waiting for. This latest addition reinforces the 25-year-old Galleria's position as St. Louis' finest shopping mall. Centrally located in Richmond Heights, it's got the best assortment of chain stores: the aforementioned Nordstrom, Macy's, an Apple Store,… More >>
  • Best Musical Instrument Store

    Fazio's Frets and Friends

    The recession and the increasing popularity of online shopping have hurt all sorts of local retailers, including such music stores as the recently shuttered Drum Headquarters, not long ago a Best Of winner in this category. From a modest start back in 1978, Fazio's Frets and Friends has survived and thrived, growing into a custom-built facility in west county with… More >>
  • Best Pet Store

    Pet Connection

    The St. Louis region has plenty of stores to outfit your designer pooch or puss in designer duds, to buy puppy ice cream or yak-cheese dog chews, to book massages for your feline, or even to share "yappy hour" with your four-legged friend. But what about your gecko or your gerbil? Or even your budgie? Some people love their boas… More >>
  • Best Place for a Kid's Birthday Party

    Chesterfield Sports Fusion

    It has been scientifically proven that one out of every five St. Louis kid's birthday parties is held in Chesterfield. The area is a mecca for activities that parents would never allow at home but would gladly pay to happen somewhere else (think: Bounce U, Sky Zone). Chesterfield Sports Fusion is one of the newer additions brave enough to take… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Sex Toys

    Hustler Hollywood

    Shopping for sex toys can be stressful. What if I run into a relative while comparing prices on cock rings? What if I blow 90 bucks on a Rabbit only to find out it's not all it's cracked up to be? Hustler Hollywood takes the taboo out of shopping for dildos, vibrators and butt plugs with outgoing and attentive service.… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Vinyl

    Record Exchange

    Given that Record Exchange has been named Riverfront Times' "Best Place to Buy Vinyl" every year for the past five years, you might wonder why we keep coming back to it. There has to be another place in town that's equally worthy, right? Wrong. Record Exchange's vinyl guru Jean Haffner has run the store from several different locations in its… More >>
  • Best Runners' Store

    Missouri Running Co.

    Every time you leave Missouri Running Co., you depart knowing more about running than you did when you came in. After all, it's hard not to learn something when you talk with the unabashed running junkies behind the store formerly known as Ghisallo Running and Marathon Sports. "We can spend a lot of time with a customer — some customers… More >>
  • Best Skate Shop

    Infinity Skateshop

    Infinity Skateshop nails what a skate shop should be: a place to buy boards, trucks, wheels and skate shoes, yes, but also, and more important, a place for kids (of the child and adult variety) to meet and mingle with other skaters. Should you venture to south county and step inside the nondescript strip-mall shop, you're likely to leave with… More >>
  • Best Soap

    Herbaria

    You can mess all you want with fancy chemicals, but nothing will get you cleaner than good old-fashioned soap and water. At least that's what they claim at Herbaria, the soap factory and emporium on the Hill. Nearly a decade ago, husband and wife Ken Gilberg and LaRee DeFreece started making soap in their Kirkwood home from all-natural ingredients (palm… More >>
  • Best Antique Store

    Quintessential Antiques

    Perhaps because they are only open the first seven days of each month from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Quintessential Antiques feels fresh on every visit. Owner Andy Culbertson and his parents, JoEllen and Louis, each follow his or her own collecting interests. Thus, Odd Fellows robes and overshot coverlets mingle with classic antiques such as treenware and ironstone, along… More >>
  • Best Staff

    Coffee Cartel

    It takes patience, moxie and balls to work at Coffee Cartel. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, these guys have seen it all. From the grouchy early-morning commuters jonesing for that first cup of coffee to the drunken hoards rushing the doors for snackage after the bars close to the — for lack of a better word… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Society of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store

    Bargain shoppers know the feeling: the rush that comes after finding something totally freakin' sweet and unique for a mere fraction of the regular asking price. And so what if it's a little bit used? That just means it's already broken in — and waiting for a second life. The folks at Society of St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores… More >>
  • Best Toy Store

    Imagination Toys

    When Imagination Toys owner Marge Versprille was a kid, her favorite toys were stilts and Scrabble. With Bratz dolls and Angry Birds dominating the industry, things in Toyland have changed a little, but Imagination's take remains the same: Just because a toy store should be educational doesn't mean it has to be boring. The oldest specialty toy store in St.… More >>
  • Best Yarn Store

    Knit and Caboodle

    Yarn shopping is far more complex than it may seem. While price and selection are obvious factors, it's equally important to find a friendly staff: one that won't get annoyed while you pace the aisles for hours, petting the various yarn bundles and debating internally which would be best for a sweater, scarf or a pair of glittens. Knit and… More >>
  • Best Adult Video Store

    Spankys Adult Emporium

    Back in the olden days, it was a rite of passage to go to the adult store and act totally cool when faced with a wall of dildos. Now you can lurk the interwebs from the privacy of your own lair, searching for all the bits and bobs you need to make your naughty bits stand at attention. But where's… More >>
  • Best Baby Store

    City Sprouts

    Let's get one thing out of the way: You do not shop at City Sprouts if you've just had a baby and you need to stock up on essentials. You will not find formula here, or piles of plastic diapers, or such boring-but-necessary items as cheap onesies or baby powder. Instead, you come to City Sprouts if you're that cool… More >>
  • Best Body Piercing

    Iron Age Studio

    The Delmar Loop has a burgeoning rockabilly district, what with the addition of Devil City, the sweet new clothing store that features brands like Stop Staring! and Red Wing Shoes, and Iron Age Studio, a great spot festooned with old-school tattoos. We don't know if greasers were prone to getting titanium rods jabbed through their...naughty bits, but if they did,… More >>
  • Best Bridal Shop

    Simply Elegant Bridal

    Simply Elegant's downtown location certainly lives up to its name: Built in 1906 as a piano showroom, the space at Olive and North Tenth streets boasts marble floors, ten-foot mirrors and a graceful, arched ceiling. But who has time to look at the architecture with a selection of wedding dresses this good? Owner Annette Karsch stocks seven full lines, mostly… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Rain Tunnel Express

    In the right frame of mind, a car wash isn't some Saturday-afternoon chore or a recourse against scads of birdshit — it's a ritual cleansing, a baptism, a rebirth. Hell, we humans should be so lucky to come out all shiny and new after our daily washings. So when it's time for a little vehicular renewal, head to the Sappington… More >>
  • Best CD/Record Store

    Vintage Vinyl

    Vintage Vinyl is the Grand Central Station of record stores — sooner or later, everything comes through its doors. Rightly famed for its deep and cultured reggae selection and the ever-expanding universe that is its rock & roll department (simply reading the divider cards in these two areas is a musical education in itself), Vintage should be your first stop… More >>
  • Best Art Supplies

    Blick Art Materials

    This past winter Blick Art Materials' St. Louis outpost relocated from Clayton to new premises in the Delmar Loop. The move was a good one: The old space was crammed almost to bursting with pencils and paints and portfolios. The new store is open and bright, with wide aisles full of things to look at, whether you're a serious artist… More >>
  • Best Garden Center

    Bayer's Garden Shop

    By the time winter loosened its grip on St. Louis this year, our gardens were in a seriously sorry state. When the only things poking up from the soil are a few sticks and an empty bag of Funyuns, it's time to pay a visit to the experts. As much of a springtime ritual as dyeing Easter eggs and buying… More >>
  • Best Gift Shop

    Ivy Hill

    At this little clothing/gift shop, tucked in a storefront in the busiest part of Euclid Avenue in the Central West End, you can get a fabulous candle, a darling umbrella or the wittiest little bag from Orla Kiely. You can also get locally made jewelry, some of it quite affordable, and cocktail dresses from Trina Turk, which are generally a… More >>
  • Best Golf Store

    Golfsmith

    The practice greens at the exclusive private country clubs within chipping distance of Des Peres' Golfsmith are lined with handsome, decades-old trees and, out on the courses themselves, gold coins are used in place of traditional metal ball markers. Er, probably: Proletarian weekend golfers can only dream of the amenities offered at the hotsy-totsy places around town, yet they're just… More >>
  • Best Lingerie

    Nordstrom Rack

    Sure, there are racier places to buy your underthings. You won't find much in leather or crotchless panties in the lingerie section at Nordstrom Rack. But if you're looking for practical skivvies for regular days — and even not-so-regular days when you plan on sharing your undie choices with a friend — the frequently rotating stock here is where it's… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Bob's Package Liquor

    Affton isn't home to too many landmarks (aside from the mighty Grant's Farm, of course). But what this southern suburb has is plenty of noteworthy roadside signs. For example, there's the beautiful neon of Federhofer's Bakery, which is just north of the recently updated advert for Phil's BBQ. And when you're thirsty, there's no greater landmark than the big red… More >>
  • Best Newsstand

    World News Ltd.

    An informed citizenry is necessary to maintain an effective democracy in these times of political madness and relentless spin. There's misinformation attacking us from all angles, and the only way to maintain intellectual integrity is through a dedicated thirst for truth. With stacks and stacks of Sundays and dailies from around America and the world, and racks and racks of… More >>
  • Best Place for a Grown-Up's Birthday Party

    Friendly's Sports Bar & Grill

    What is a grown-up's birthday party but another great reason for the gang to get together and drink? Only this time, someone is one year older — and maybe some singing is involved. Skip the beer-bottle cleanup this year, and celebrate at south city's home away from home, Friendly's Sports Bar & Grill. There's plenty of space and tables for… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy New Clothing (Men)

    Moris Fashions

    We're not saying Moris Fashions is a bad place to get women's clothing — we've filled our closet with enough cute Catherine Malandrino dresses and tissue-thin Lilla P T-shirts to prove just the opposite. But there are plenty of good women's clothing boutiques in this town, Moris included; it's a little more unusual to find a place that pays so… More >>
  • Best Furniture Store

    I.O. Metro

    It's a feat to bring real warmth to what amounts to a faux street, but I.O. Metro, located in the mall-let known as the Boulevard (across Brentwood Boulevard from the Saint Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights), has managed to pull it off. Manager Michelle Mendel says St. Louis shoppers are snatching up the store's modern furniture by the truck full,… More >>
  • Best Frame Shop

    Mark Buckheit & Associates

    Mark Buckheit knows where the best drinking fountain in St. Louis is, but you can't go there unless you're a patron of the Gravois Planing Mill on Juniata Street, where Buckheit has many of his custom-made frames molded. Buckheit has been in the framing business since graduating from Washington University's art school (since rechristened the Sam Fox School of Design… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy New Clothing (Women)

    Mary Jane's - CLOSED

    There is not actually a Mary Jane behind this fabulous little shop just south of Left Bank Books in the Central West End. There is, however, a Lori Harris, who named the place after the little girl befriended by her pug, Clyde. As you might guess based on that charming anecdote, Mary Jane's is not one of those snotty boutiques… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Used Clothing

    Miss Ohio Vintage

    If obscure noise music, amazing books and magazines or possibly the most darling store cat in the whole city aren't enough to get you through the door of Cherokee Street's Apop Records, fabulous vintage threads ought to do the trick. Previously found mostly at events and fashion shows glamming up the city, Miss Ohio Vintage has been running a pop-up… More >>
  • Best Place to Shop for Grandma

    Libby's

    You can find the occasional little black dress in this surprisingly spacious shop in the Central West End, or a sleek dark tunic. But those are the exceptions that prove the rule: The clothes here veer away from minimalism and toward glorious, cheerful color. It's not for nothing that Libby's calls itself "the Picasso of women's clothing" — and we're… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    Wentzville Flea Market

    Even in the age of Craigslist, backpage.com and eBay, the flea market still stands as one of the best shopping options for the modern pack rat on a budget. The excitement of the hunt for good deals and archaic collectibles is endless at the Wentzville Flea Market. With more than 400 vendor spaces available, this hidden treasure opens every Sunday… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Store

    All American Collectibles/Mo's Comics

    Mark Farace is a collector's collector. After buying St. Louis' two oldest comic-book shops in 1998, Farace decided to carry on their legacy, moving the two stores under a single roof even while keeping both names. A purist at heart, Farace has strayed from the gaming and fantasy side of the business in order to offer an excellent range of… More >>
  • Best Gun Store

    Top Gun Shooting Sports

    Featuring one of the largest indoor shooting ranges in the Midwest, Arnold's Top Gun Shooting Sports hits the mark. The indoor range features eighteen lanes, offering up to 25 yards of shooting space, while the retail center offers shoppers a diverse selection of ammunition, holsters, scopes, firearms and other accessories. Customer service is top-notch, with a knowledgeable staff that's eager… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Hanley Hills Hardware

    In operation since the 1950s, Hanley Hills Hardware is the kind of place your grandpa would have frequented. Hell, maybe he still does, if he's one of the old-timers shooting the breeze every day in the narrow aisles of this quintessential little shop. For owners of older homes, Hanley Hills is a true godsend, offering glass cutting, screen replacement and… More >>
  • Best Place to Shop for Your Mom

    Soft Surroundings

    So Mom's not the only one who might like the wares at this spacious, sweet-smelling store: There are earrings that would work for your sister, tunics that would look great on Grandma and nubby coverlets that would make your cat purr with contentment. But Soft Surroundings is most certainly a store for a woman who wants a little pampering. You… More >>
  • Best Florist

    Bloomin' Buckets

    It's not easy to find Bloomin' Buckets. The flower shop gives its address as Manchester Road in Rock Hill, but it's really on a side street, Tavalon Avenue, obscured by a wooden fence. Push open that gate, though, and you're in for a treat. A rose garden gives way to a cute-as-can-be pink cottage where you can find owner Barb… More >>
  • Best Dollar Store

    Dollar Tree

    Hula dancer figurines. As-Seen-on-TV gimcrack. Fake flowers. Kids' socks. Costumes. Snacks. Helium balloons. TV Dinners. Two-for-$1 greeting cards. The question becomes: What can't you harvest from the Dollar Tree? The place has everything! And unlike other so-called dollar stores, everything here really is a buck or less. But what we really love about this particular Dollar Tree is its friendly… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    Midwest Bicycle Expo and Swap Meet

    In baseball parlance, the Midwest Bicycle Expo and Swap Meet is the Hot Stove League of the St. Louis bicycling world. It's when cycling fans gather in the dead of winter to share their enthusiasm for the coming spring. But more than that, the swap meet is the place to find great deals on bicycles and accessories, as shops and… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor

    TRX Tattoos

    If you're going to ink up for the long haul, you'd better mean it. TRX Tattoos, attached to what might just be south city's coolest emporium of wacky, naughty and just plain cool, Cheap TRX, means it. The tattoo area upstairs is tidy and comfortable, a balm to the qualms of even the most anxious first-timer. The staff members are… More >>
  • Best Book Store (Independent)

    Subterranean Books

    Sometimes you don't realize what you have until you're in danger of losing it forever. Last January Subterranean Books' owner Kelly von Plonski announced on the store's Facebook feed that if business didn't improve, she would be forced to close her doors. The news shocked and saddened a certain class of St. Louis book-buyer, the sort that values the experience… More >>
  • Best Tobacconist

    HSB Tobacconist

    Step inside HSB Tobacconist, and you will find, among others, Lions Loop and Voodoo Crème and BW 4x4 and English long cut and Dansk Obsession. And jars of tobacco and Ashtons and Dominicans and Acids and Don Diegos and Rockey Patels and Churchills and Torpedos and Piramides. And honey nut-flavored cigars and cinnamon-flavored cigars and heavenly vanilla-flavored cigars and amaretto-flavored… More >>
  • Best Wine Store

    St. Louis Wine Market & Tasting Room

    Even if you live in Chesterfield, you might need a little help finding the St. Louis Wine Market & Tasting Room, which is located at the far end of a small new strip mall tucked to one side of the Boone's Crossing megalopolis. It's worth seeking out, however, no matter where you call home. The 4,000-square-foot space is actually two… More >>
  • Best Book Store (Chain)

    Barnes & Noble–Chesterfield Oaks - CLOSED

    One hot summer morning, a group of ten women and one man gathered in the café at the Barnes & Noble in Chesterfield to discuss The Paris Wife, Paula McLain's novel about Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway's St. Louis-born first wife. Gradually the conversation turned to the fate of the other major bookstore chain, Borders, which had announced the day before… More >>
  • Best Pawn Shop

    Stan's Pawn Shop

    Located in an unassuming hideaway near a strip mall on Delmar Boulevard, Stan's Pawn Shop is about as fancy as it looks — which is to say, not at all. With A Tribe Called Quest blasting overhead, a clerk who just might be wearing a Harley-Davidson graphic T-shirt under his white button-down will help you navigate a selection of jewelry… More >>
  • Best Used Book Store

    Patten Books

    Is there anything better — or rarer — than a clean, adequately illuminated used book store? Patten Books is tucked in an unassuming strip mall between the vast used-car dealership lots of Kirkwood and Glendale, but don't let the nondescript storefront fool you. Owners Keith and Nancy Patten run an extremely tight ship. Shelves are massive and well dusted, there's… More >>
  • Best Sporting Goods Store

    Fischer's Pro-Line Sports

    If you love the big-box vibe, by all means go to Sports Authority. If you value the personal touch, though, Fischer's Pro-Line Sports is well worth seeking out. In an era when the independently owned sporting-goods store is threatened with extinction, this family-run store in Florissant is a chip off the old block, priding itself on quality goods, superior customer… More >>
  • Best Place to Shop for Little Sis

    Charm

    Downtown's loss is downtown Maplewood's gain. Earlier this year, Kari Kraichely up and moved her four-year-old jewelry shop, Charm, from a storefront on the edge of downtown to a new spot in the 'burbs. Kraichely told us that she was worried because several neighbors had also recently closed their stores and she knew, despite her love for downtown St. Louis,… More >>
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