Best Of 2015

Goods & Services

Goods & Services
Best Antique Store? Check. Best Bike Shop? Check. Best Sex Shop? Never fear; we've got that covered too. If you're itching to drop a few dollars on a new vibrator or an old handbag, our staff picks for the best goods and services in town will keep you from squandering your money at second-tier retail outlets. Shopped 'til you've dropped? We've also got a winner for Best Mani/Pedi.
Josh Davis, lead floral designer at Botanicals, works his magic.
If you're going to the trouble of sending flowers to your beloved, you'd be a fool to drop your hard-earned pesos on a boring old vase of roses with baby's breath. But it's not like you're a floral expert — how creative can you get when you barely know an orchid from an iris? Enter Keith McDonnell and Dean Riebeling, the creative geniuses behind nine-year-old Botanicals Design Studio in the Tower Grove neighborhood. They'll draw out what you want — from a vague "something stylish and romantic" to a more specific color scheme/size/price point/occasion — and use it to craft a custom display that will strike you as exactly what you desire, even if you could have never figured it out for yourself. Best of all, they work quickly. We called one recent Saturday around 10 a.m., and by noon, the perfect arrangement for our friend's baby shower was ready for pickup. There's a reason Botanicals has thrived for almost a decade; these guys can turn any window-shopper into a devoted repeat customer. 3014 South Grand Avenue, St. Louis, 63118. 314-772-7674, www.botanicalsdesignstudio.com.
Jewelry by Craft Alliance won’t break the bank.
Beautiful, statement-making jewelry doesn't have to max out your credit cards to speak volumes, as shoppers at the Craft Alliance Center of Art & Design could attest. With a focus on contemporary craft, the gallery shop at the Craft Alliance features both local and national artists who skillfully create wearable pieces that are beyond lovely enough to spruce up any ensemble. Expect to find an ever-changing selection of distinctive bracelets, necklaces, rings and more, with looks that range from elegant to quirky, understated to bold. And the best part? If you find yourself inspired, the Craft Alliance offers classes that teach you how to make your own adornments. 6640 Delmar Boulevard, University City, 63130. 314-725-1177, www.craftalliance.org.
Sarah Michelson and Willow Rosen at Box.
Located just off Cherokee Street, Box adds an interesting retail and meeting space to the bustling restaurant and bar district. It doesn't immediately come off as a sex shop; gauzy white curtains cover the windows of the entrance, and the main room is so minimally decorated, it takes a moment to realize that the gold milk crates affixed to the walls display an assortment of sex toys. In fact, many of them would look at home in a Sharper Image catalog. More economically priced and familiar items are also for sale, including beautifully crafted glass dildos, condoms and whips. But Box is much more than a place to get a fancy vibrator: The shop has a feminist, community-driven, sex-positive mission. Co-owners Willow Rosen and Sarah Michaelson are experienced and helpful beyond their knowledge of pleasure devices — both are practicing doulas, and in the interest of providing a safe space to talk about sexuality and motherhood, they have devoted an entire room, with nary a phallus in sight, to their regularly scheduled lectures and discussions that range in topic from consent, masculinity and menstruation to recovering from sexual trauma and the benefits of breastfeeding. Box is like no other sex shop, and it's worth a visit — even if cock rings aren't your thing. 3350 Ohio Avenue, St. Louis, 63118. 314-312-2213, boxstl.squarespace.com.
Riverside Antiques specializes in architectural items.
Every shop on Cherokee's Antique Row is unique. Riverside Antiques happens to specialize in architectural items: vintage doors and windows of all sizes, metal register covers, wooden balusters, tin ceiling tiles, old light fixtures. When last we checked, it had even salvaged bricks engraved with "ST LOUIS." Owners Don and Barb Moore have been here since 1979, and they cull their inventory from rehabbers and estate sales. The couple lives above the shop, which is open practically every day (even in the dark of winter, when some shoppers duck in just to rub their hands over their vintage wood stove). "I love this place," Barb says. "I wouldn't want to live anywhere else." 1947 Cherokee Street, St. Louis, 63118. 314-772-9177, www.riversideantiquesstl.com
The Hill Cigar Company has a selection of boutique cigars.
Walking through the front door of the Hill Cigar Company is like discovering a home you never knew you had the keys to. In the front room there's a ring of comfortable chairs occupied, usually, by a harrumphing collection of good-natured smokers. The walk-in humidor is a veritable Cigar Library of Congress: Aficionados will thrill at the selection of boutique cigars and new releases, while novices will get the hand-holding they need to find their flavor. The highlight, however, is the lounge, which is laid out with blocky leather armchairs, continent-sized couches and a full kitchen. Grab a chilled glass from the fridge, pull out a bottle or flask (it's BYOB) and do what comes naturally. Cut and spark that cigar. Offer your neighbor a drink. Turn on the game. Do whatever you want to make yourself at home — because you are. 5360 Southwest Avenue, St. Louis, 63139. 314-776-4455, www.hillcigarco.com.
Spoked owner Matt Hartman at work.
As St. Louis becomes more bike friendly (save for that small population of psychopaths in autos who violently refuse to share the road), the bike retail/repair industry has developed in a casual way. Spoked, nestled in the heart of the thriving Cherokee Street corridor, has proven to be the perfect place for all of the city's bike needs. Whether it's a tune-up, a repair, biking attire or accessories, a new set of wheels altogether, or, hell, just a cup of coffee, Spoked is ready to serve. The hours are great — the shop is open Tuesday through Sunday — and the qualified staff does thorough work with a quick turnaround. Spoked's bike inventory may not be as well-stocked as other St. Louis shops, but we suspect that will be changing soon. 2716 Cherokee Street, St. Louis, 63118. 314-875-0368, www.spokedbikes.com.
Groomer Crystal Rolfe attends to French bulldog Collette at Four Muddy Paws.
You can get just about anything your dog could ever desire at Four Muddy Paws, the surprisingly large storefront boutique that has flourished on Lafayette Square since 2007. (There's also a second location in Edwardsville, Illinois.) There are toys and games, tasty raw foods, even stylish clothes if your mutt is into that sort of thing. But the reason we've become regulars here has nothing to do with what our dog wants — and everything to do with the thing he'd most like to avoid in life: grooming. The staffers at Four Muddy Paws are gentle with even the most troubled dogs, soothing them with soft voices as they clip away at the most sensitive areas. They even handle puppies. Is your dog into spa days? You can also bathe him yourself; prices start at just $12. 1711 Park Avenue, St. Louis, 63104. 314-773-7297, www.fourmuddypaws.com.