The RFT's 2016 Guide to Shopping Local in St. Louis

We gave five shoppers $100 each. Here's what they found in Soulard, the CWE, Downtown, South Grand and Cherokee

Misha Sampson and Ceaira Jackson at Soulard's La Belle Histoire.
Misha Sampson and Ceaira Jackson at Soulard's La Belle Histoire. PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN

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click to enlarge MacroSun International features a variety of gifts from all over the world. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
MacroSun International features a variety of gifts from all over the world.

Destination: Downtown

Shopper: Anthony "Redd" Williams, hip-hop dance instructor at COCA

I live Downtown, so I know that the neighborhood has more to offer than just the financial district. There are so many start-ups and local businesses, I barely had to walk a block for this shopping trip. I always try to support these places with my business, especially those that are struggling or just now up-and-coming, to keep the area vibrant and moving forward.

I started at DNA (Dictate Never Accept) Clothing and Apparel Boutique (1308 Washington Avenue, 314-825-5757). They specialize in men's fashion, offering tons of options in urban streetwear. Nate Brown, the boss of DNA, has been called a "styleologist," and always keeps up with fresh changes in hip-hop fashion. I shop here often, so I am pretty well-stocked with whatever clothing in is in vogue nowadays. But DNA has its own stylish, signature "St. Louis" snapback hat, so I thought I'd add that to my wardrobe for $44.

click to enlarge A St. Louis-themed cap from DNA is just the thing. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
A St. Louis-themed cap from DNA is just the thing.

We then went right over to MacroSun International (1310 Washington Avenue, 314-421-6400), a variety store with fair-trade goods and gifts from around the world. They specialize in art pieces, home décor, and just about anything else you could think of from places as far away as Mali and Thailand. Everything they sell is high quality. From their jewelry and clothing to prayer bowls and incense, you could spend $5 or $2,000 and get really high-quality gifts. It's too bad that such a nice shop is going out of business now, but I enjoyed looking through everything they had to offer. Since they're closing soon, MacroSun has a sale of 25 percent off all purchases, and I snagged a brass bracelet with "I love Nepal" on it and also a ring, totaling only $15 after the reduction.

click to enlarge Williams browses some items at Tabo-Co, a smoke shop and novelty gift store. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
Williams browses some items at Tabo-Co, a smoke shop and novelty gift store.

Next up was the Taba Company Smoke Shop and Novelty Store (1300 Washington Avenue, 314-436-8588). I don't smoke, but those who do would be set, considering all the different kinds of products Taba sells. They also supply high-quality merchandise and clothing made locally in St. Louis. I actually took a more pragmatic approach and eventually decided on a pair of super-potent candles for $8.95 each. My loft has high ceilings, so normal scented candles usually don't cut it, but these ones from Taba completely fill my space. I also thought I'd search out for something I could buy for my mom. She collects all kinds of bags, to display and to use, so I found her this cute owl backpack for $24.

I ended the shopping spree across the street at Blondie's Coffee and Wine Bar (1301 Washington Avenue, 314-241-6100). They have the most homey, welcoming atmosphere that's always friendly and open, exactly what you want for a brunch-based restaurant. They're open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, but serve breakfast and lunch items off a diverse menu, suitable for all eating habits, throughout the day. I'm personally a dessert guy, so I ordered a brownie with whipped cream and ice cream, which, though simple, was amazing. The Brownie Sunday was $6 and finished off the trip on yet another high note.— as told to Harry Hall

Turn the page for one last shopping trip, on South Grand.
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