40 Locally Owned St. Louis Shops to Visit Right Now 

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY

Lusso: like a department store, only more smartly curated. - SARA BANNOURA
  • SARA BANNOURA
  • Lusso: like a department store, only more smartly curated.

Lusso

We all have a fancy friend, a girl whose errand-running ensembles and casual-wear clothes look more put together than you do on your best day. Her home, whether it's the holiday season or not, looks Insta-perfect. And her jewelry and accessories are consistently and stunningly on point. Well, we have news for you: That woman shops at Lusso (165 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton; 314-725-7205). Gorgeous fresh flowers help set the tasteful mood at this sister-owned shop. Browse stylish Jonathan Adler home décor, memorable Alexis Bittar and Chan Luu jewelry, luxe White + Warren cashmere and St. Louisan Emily Brady Koplar's chic Wai Ming tops and dresses — all alongside items by other gifted locals, cute Kate Spade goodies, darling trays, cards, candles, fragrances and much more. It's like a smart little department store, heavy on the curation and easy on the overwhelming factor.

Sole and Blues

Sole and Blues Designer Boutique (6633 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-863-3600) has been located at various locations in the Loop longer than many neighborhood denizens have been alive. Once upon a time, this shop had a strong focus on shoes and denim, hence the name, but nowadays the boutique places a more egalitarian emphasis on clothing and accessorizing the entire body, while still keeping your footwear fashionable and your jeans stylish. With darling dresses, comfy tops and unique jewelry for women, Sole and Blues also offers classic casual clothes for men and St. Louis-themed shirts for both sets of shoppers. Keep an eye out for the sales here, and for those who are westward focused, there's a St. Charles location (1650 Beale Street, Suite 162, St. Charles; 636-757-3711) as well.

Plowsharing Crafts

When you buy something at Plowsharing Crafts (three locations, including 6271 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-863-3723), you're really giving two gifts — one to your recipient (whether that's you or someone else) and one to the person or people who helped create the item you've purchased. Plowsharing's three local fair-trade shops offer opportunities for artisans the world over to share their talents and get paid a fair wage while doing so. Unique kitchenware and linens will spruce up any table, while ornaments abound for adorning your tree. Plus, there are plenty of year-round décor items, trinket boxes, jewelry, handmade cards, bags and more, some of which also keep an eye toward upcycling reusable materials and keeping them out of landfills.

Maven: a Maplewood shop with great smells. - SARA BANNOURA
  • SARA BANNOURA
  • Maven: a Maplewood shop with great smells.

Maven

Many great startup stories begin in a garage. Kate Bethel's began in her basement. Several years ago she started making soap there for fun. After wowing guests at her wedding with her fortune-cookie-inspired soaps, she began taking orders. In 2007, after being laid off from her job, she decided to lean in and opened her storefront in downtown Maplewood. Ten years later, handmade soaps are only one of the many things you can find in her wonderfully fragrant shop Maven (7290 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-449-6900) — today she offers a wide variety of bath and body products, as well as handmade candles. Want to try your hand at soap making? Maven offers classes as well. Ditch that withered bar of big-brand soap in your bathroom and treat yourself to Bethel's Lavender Basil or Bamboo Eucalyptus.

City Sprouts

If you've been wondering where can you find a onesie with a pattern of sunny-side-up eggs or a pair of high-top Vans for your baby, head to City Sprouts (8807 Ladue Rd, Clayton; 314-726-9611). Owner Molly Curlee got her start in retail in high school and was just nineteen when she and her sister took over the Phoenix Rising boutique in the Loop, which their parents had founded. Years later, when she had her first child, a girl, Curlee grew frustrated with the choices available for baby clothes and furniture. "Everything was pink," she says with a laugh. That led to stocking better baby products at Phoenix Rising and eventually, in 2005, a standalone kid-centric store down the street. City Sprouts moved to its location off Ladue Road in Clayton about three years ago. Curlee says, "We needed to downsize — we used to sell strollers and car seats, and we became a showroom where people would come check out the gear and then order it for a cheaper price on Amazon." Now the shop sells specialty clothing and toys — unique puzzles, books and games that you won't find elsewhere in St. Louis, plus clothing from Tea Collection and other brands offering cute, quirky, quality children's clothing. It also carries T-shirts and onesies from local companies STL Style and Tiny Little Monster. And while there is some pink and blue at City Sprouts, Curlee remains true to her original vision: You'll find a range of other colors as well.

Sole Survivor

Nearly everyone's life could be improved by a really good leather tote or satchel. And we're not talking about some basic brand-name bag with a big price tag or a stale, mass-produced fast-fashion snooze-fest. We mean a stylishly classic, incredibly sturdy, individually crafted carryall, preferably one that's skillfully made by hands that have seen more leather than a cow. At Sole Survivor (7312 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-932-1475), where everything is created in-store, plenty of beautiful handmade bags fit this last description. Colors and types vary, but these timeless pieces will stay with you awhile. This shop not only has work bags, but also purses of all sizes, belts, wallets, keychains and more, including cool sculptural leather bowl-type vessels, perfectly on point for the artsy person who has everything.

Dot Dot Dash

A charming De Mun mainstay, this cozy pocket-size boutique packs a lot of friendly service and fashion inside, without feeling overwhelming or crowded. At Dot Dot Dash (736 De Mun Avenue, Clayton; 314-862-1962), expect to find comfortably stylish, but not outrageously priced, versatile women's wear and handbags geared toward those who prefer a casual West Coast aesthetic. In addition to clothes, the shop carries gifts, too — cute kitchen stuff, pretty jewelry, puffer scarves, quirky socks and more — but its name does signal "u" in Morse code, so it's understandable if you just keep all of your purchases for yourself!

Oso: a Style Lab: a smart shopper's favorite spot in the Loop. - COURTESY OF THE SHOP
  • COURTESY OF THE SHOP
  • Oso: a Style Lab: a smart shopper's favorite spot in the Loop.

OSO: a Style Lab

One-year-old OSO: a style lab (6321 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-467-0436) offers a cheeky mix of high and low at what often proves to be a surprisingly reasonable price point. Cocktail dresses, jackets and T-shirts share the spare, stylish space with clever, often Japanese-inspired tchotchkes that have caught the eye of co-owners Jen Rieger and Chris Rubin de la Borballa: everything from enamel pins to top-notch pencils to desktop metallic sculptures that look just like Jeff Koons' balloon dog. It's a little piece of Abbot Kinney in the heart of the Loop, and the perfect place to shop for the cool kid on your list.

Phoenix Rising

There's a reason the Delmar Loop's cheeky gift shop, Phoenix Rising (6331 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-862-0609), has survived more than two decades of change on the street, winning countless Best of St. Louis awards in the process: Co-owner Carrie Drda (she and sister Molly Curlee also own kids' offshoot City Sprouts) has one of the best eyes in the business. It's simply impossible to peruse the shop's small but carefully curated collection without finding the perfect gift — often one you would have never considered until she stocked it. No, there's nothing you or your friends need here, but there's surely a whole lot you'll want. From sassy baby onesies to funny books to even a series of cleverly printed aprons, the items will make you laugh out loud. Once you've recovered, head over to the jewelry counter for a surprisingly sophisticated collection, some of it by local artisans.

Tiny Little Monster

When Sloan Coleman and Jenny Rearick started their custom printing business, Tiny Little Monster (7207 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-449-6900), in 2010, they wanted to do things differently. They didn't want any design to be cookie-cutter, and even designs submitted by a customer would be given 30 minutes of free polishing by a professional graphic designer. Seven years later, they are one of the leaders in custom print design in the city. Whether it's a custom T-shirt, can koozie or pennant, Coleman and Rearick go the extra mile to make the design as good as it can be. Outside of their custom printing business, you can find lots of silly items and gifts in their Maplewood storefront, from Missouri-proud "MO' Please" koozies for adults to incredibly cute St. Louis-inspired T-shirts for the kids.

Civil Alchemy: a smart Webster Groves newcomer. - LAUREN MILFORD
  • LAUREN MILFORD
  • Civil Alchemy: a smart Webster Groves newcomer.

Civil Alchemy

The newest shop to open in Webster Groves, Civil Alchemy (8154 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves; 314-801-7577) comes with an impressive pedigree: Owner Kelley Hall-Barr also founded K. Hall Studios, a home fragrance and personal care goods store with outlets in Brentwood and Frontenac. Hall-Barr's powers of curation are evident in this eclectic shop — she offers everything from cleaning products to beer to outdoor gear, which she's personally tested. There's even a flower bar, where you can make your own bouquet or pick a ready-made one. Hall-Barr has a simple way to describe her vision. "It's everything you need to have a party," she notes, from the food and drink you offer to the pottery you serve it on to the shirt (and earrings) you wear to shine as a hostess.

Paperdolls

Founded by Beth Morris and Carolyn Burghoff, the four outlets and online site that comprise Paperdolls (multiple locations including 110 E. Jefferson Avenue, Kirkwood; 314-965-3655) bring contemporary clothing to women of all ages. The boutique first opened on Washington Avenue in 2005, moved to Kirkwood in 2008, and then expanded to Ballwin, University City and Des Peres. Paperdolls offers a large selection of apparel, jewelry and accessories, from trendy dresses for a fun night out to casual layers for running around town. The shop carries some designer labels, but the majority of the merchandise is in the $50 to $60 range. The owners travel often to fashion shows in Las Vegas, New York and LA to source the latest trends. A number of accessories reflect the store's sense of humor. If you're looking for a card that says "another f*ing birthday" or a perhaps too-honest "99 percent happy for you" greeting card, or you need a coffee mug to inspire you to "get sh*t done," this is the place. The store also carries some local brands supporting city pride like Maison Jewelry, which offers "314" and "636" necklaces representing the St. Louis area codes, and Aviate, which sells STL-embroidered baseball caps.

Leopard Boutique

If you've browsed local boutiques, you might have experienced a bit of sticker shock compared to the chain stores at the mall — but not at Leopard Boutique (20 Allen Avenue #100, Webster Groves; 314-961-3220). Its goal is to make unique, trendy clothes and jewelry more accessible to women. The shop specializes in dresses, tops and denim but offers a variety of beauty products, jewelry and gifts as well. Owner Rachel Sauter opened Leopard Boutique in 2012 and has since added a second location in St. Charles (1650 Beale Street, St. Charles; 636-757-3919) plus an online store, which offers free shipping for orders over $50 or free in-store pickup for items you purchase online. Leopard Boutique brings in new items each week, so there's always something fresh to shop. Its current selection of fall trends includes off-the-shoulder sweaters, camo joggers, lace-up flats and over-the-knee boots. Brands carried include Steven by Steve Madden, Chinese Laundry, Z Supply, Ban.do, Bobeau and Kut from the Kloth.

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