Best Of 2021

Emporium Smoke Shop
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Emporium Smoke Shop
In this time of great abundance in terms of local medical marijuana dispensaries, overflowing with a plethora of products from the consumable to the accessories of the consumable, let us not forget the trailblazing pioneers that paved the way to our brave new world. We’re talking, of course, about the head shops. More specifically in this case, we’re talking about the Emporium Smoke Shop (6254 Delmar Boulevard; 314-721-6277), that longtime bastion of bespoke bongs in the Delmar Loop, that purveyor of pipes most precious down U. City way. Since 1997, back when you had to duck down a side street and wait to be buzzed into the shop in order to secure your wares, Emporium Smoke Shop has dutifully supplied stoners throughout the St. Louis area with the supplies they need to enjoy their favorite hobby. Whether you’re in the market for a fancy new weed-smoking conversation piece or you simply left your trusty pipe at home when you headed out for a show at the Pageant, leaving you unable to pregame in your car (disaster!), Emporium has you covered. And so, we raise a pipe to Emporium! Let us give thanks to the ones that came before, for were it not for their efforts, we would never have gotten where we are today. —Daniel Hill

Goods & Services

Live your best life.

Here it is, the “getting shit done” section of this year’s Best of St. Louis. If you need your groceries restocked, dog groomed or hair cut, you have come to the right place. This is the section for locals, a little help in wiping out that to-do list before it takes over. We’ve got the best place to buy cheap clothes without skimping on style, advice for finding your way in the ever-growing field of dispensaries and your best bet for knocking out all that holiday shopping that is — surprise! — just about to take over. Enough of this intro, you’ve got work to do. —Doyle Murphy

Naturally Pure Salon
RIVERFRONT TIMES
Naturally Pure Salon
Some people think that they must go to Clayton and spend $800 for high-end hair coloring and styling, but Naturally Pure (564 South Gray Avenue; 314-963-7101) offers an easier (and much cheaper) option. Tucked away on a quiet corner in Webster Groves, the salon appears calm on the outside, but on the inside, the large space is a flurry of activity. Not only do they take every precaution to keep their clients safe from COVID-19, they also remodeled during the lockdown, expanding their square footage and adding more space between each stylist’s area. Upon entering you’ll notice good vibes all around, and once they’ve fixed up your hair, you’ll understand why every client there is so happy. Naturally Pure uses quality Aveda products and produces top-notch work that costs a fraction of what you’d expect based on the result. Friends will tell you that your new hair looks very expensive (even if it wasn’t), and isn’t that always the best compliment? —Jaime Lees
St. Louis Art Supply
COURTESY ST. LOUIS ART SUPPLY
St. Louis Art Supply
Artists deserve the finest tools available for creating masterpieces, don’t they? Grabbing a cheap sketchbook and generic pencils from a local craft store might be sufficient for an amateur, but where can a serious artist get the best supplies in town for whatever medium they dabble in? St. Louis Art Supply (4532 Olive Street, 314-884-8345) is the only place around with all the right tools for your pencil bag. The store carries hundreds of imported tools for those who love to draw, write, sketch or paint — all selected by the talented staff. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the brick-and-mortar store and cafe are closed for in-person browsing until masks and social distancing is no longer a thing. Still, they offer curbside pickup and fast shipping to anywhere in the country. —Jack Probst
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
DAVID JOHNSON
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: Museum gift shops are the best place in town to get all of your holiday shopping out of the way all at once. They offer unique gifts that you can’t find in any other shops, and (best of all) if you buy from museum gift shops, the money goes to supporting art and artists instead of supporting Jeff Bezos going to space again. The tiny little gift shop inside the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660) packs a big punch, offering not just gorgeous art books of all varieties, but also unique apparel, bags, jewelry, luxury scarves, Baggu products, planters, notebooks, cards, banners, instruments and kids’ educational toys. You can find a thoughtful, special gift for anyone from your grandkids to your great-auntie here, wrap them all up and be done with holiday shopping before Halloween. And if you need to get some shopping done but don’t have time to experience the art, the gift shop is right in front. You can pop in, shop and then hustle on out. It’s a way better situation than dealing with a mall. Once you try it once, you’ll do it every year. Promise. —Jaime Lees
Honeybee Edibles
SPENCER PERNIKOFF
Honeybee Edibles
The blessing and curse of a great cannabis edible is that it seems positively unfair, even as the warm buzz envelops you, that you can’t just eat a few more. Such is the delicious predicament offered by a Honeybee Edibles’ line of gumdrops, whose fruit flavors are temptingly rich and locally made — and whose effects deliver, whether you’re looking for pain relief or euphoria. Designed by Proper Cannabis’ Dave Owens, a former Bissinger’s Handcrafted chocolatier, the gumdrops flavors come in various THC and CBD ratios, but even the THC-only flavors — such as Black Cherry Cola, Blood Orange Strawberry and the unconventional-but-shockingly-good combo of Mango Chili — are blessedly without the dank, weed-like flavor retained in other gummy or chocolate edibles. Even beyond the world of cannabis edibles, the gumdrops are simply some of the best candy you’ll ever taste — but start with a half piece, or just one, or you might find yourself too sleepy to enjoy the full fruits of your purchase. —Danny Wicentowski
Swade Cannabis
COURTESY SWADE CANNABIS
Swade Cannabis
The inside of Swade Cannabis’ Grove location (4108 Manchester Avenue; 314-924-6503) reads less like a retail shop in which to exchange currency for goods than it does a statement piece of art and design. Brought to life by MIN+ Architecture, with thoughtful flourishes including a colorful custom mural on the front of the building by Jayvn Solomon, an illuminated ceiling print by Dave Bour at SuperDog Content and Douglas fir benches by Mwanzi Co.’s Jermain Todd, Swade’s flagship location just feels cool, and befitting the hip, luxury experience promised by the brand. Of course, none of that would amount to much if the dispensary didn’t put forth some killer cannabis offerings, and we’re happy to report that Swade handily delivers the goods in that regard. Stocking products from top cultivators including Proper, Illicit, Head Change and Swade’s house brand Sinse, the shop carries well-regarded strains of flower such as Gelato 33, Runtz and Purple Chem, as well as plenty of vapes, edibles and concentrates. Best of all, you don’t have to pay a premium for the premium experience — at just $52 for an eighth of flower, Swade’s prices are among the cheapest in town. —Thomas K. Chimchards
Sour Tangie
TOMMY CHIMS
Sour Tangie
Oftentimes, your budtender at any given dispensary is likely one of the more dedicated potheads you’ll ever meet. In keeping, when he follows up a recommendation on a strain with “I actually bought a whole ounce of that for myself,” it is most likely worth taking notice. And so, when this reviewer stepped into Nature Med Dispensary back in June and asked for some tips on good strains, the budtender who mentioned his considerable personal supply of Flora Farms’ Sour Tangie flower promptly made a sale. Rated at 17.7 percent THC and created by crossing East Coast Sour Diesel and Tangie, Sour Tangie delivers an excellent upper high that serves well to boost productivity and creativity without any of the anxiety that a strong sativa can sometimes bring. With a fruity tangerine smell hitting you like a punch in the face, its beautiful, bright, lime-green buds are covered in a fine dusting of trichomes and an abundance of orange hairs, and on inhale, it has a delicious, sweet taste, with the citrus flavor presenting itself prominently and lingering there. Fear no couchlock with this strain: Sour Tangie will have you up and moving, your mind floating from one good idea to the next, with not a care in the world. —Thomas K. Chimchards
Bubba Fett
TOMMY CHIMS
Bubba Fett
For those in search of a mellow high, one that isn’t too overwhelming and which leaves the smoker with plenty of energy to get things done, we will say this: Bubba Fett is not the strain for you. This is weed for dedicated stoners, those who are looking for an utterly stupefying cannabis experience. An indica dominant made by crossing Stardawg and Pre-98 Bubba Kush, Bubba Fett was rolled out by a few different local cultivators in recent months, including Flora Farms and C4 Pharm, to the great delight of high-tolerance smokers across the state. A C4-branded pouch purchased by this reviewer in May at Jane Dispensary clocked in at 20.54 percent THC, and the smaller, mostly darker-green nuggets boasted a dark, rich, slightly skunky smell. On inhale, the strain had a flavorful, sweet taste that smoothed out into an enjoyable smoke after a few initial coughs. As for effects, Bubba Fett is not for the faint of heart. Expect to be locked to your couch, with your brain scrambled like eggs and your stomach rumbling, and any chronic pain you might normally experience melted away. When amateur smokers speak of their nightmare experiences with far-too-powerful weed, it’s easy to imagine the likes of Bubba Fett might be the strain they got their hands on. For us old pros, though, it’s nothing but a good time. —Thomas K. Chimchards
May’s Place
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May’s Place
May’s Place (4180 Manchester Avenue; 314-659-8745) is a “slow-fashion headquarters.” The boutique is curated with vintage pieces, making your outfit of the day both ethical and fashionable. May’s Place also partners with other sustainable brands for pop-ups in its shop. And in addition to promoting sustainability, the store regularly gives back to the community and hosts a variety of donation events. Shop online or in the two-story market in the Grove — whichever suits your fancy. May’s Place offers finds for all kinds of people and even has a few items for your home if you’re in the market for a new piece. Whatever the case may be, shopping at May’s Place lets you have the boutique experience while getting something unique for your closet. And to us, that’s a win. —Jenna Jones