Best Of 2005

Best Place to Buy Vinyl
For many record stores, stocking the outdated, oversize vinyl format is almost an afterthought, an area of the store where forgotten new-wave bands and surplus Fleetwood Mac albums go to gather dust. Euclid Records, on the other hand, lovingly devotes an entire room to the platters -- arranged with so much care that each individual Beatles album earns its own unique partition within a section. But the spacious racks of vinyl aren't this store's sole attraction. Take a gander at the vast amount of genres -- encompassing standbys like jazz and rock, but also specialty categories such as kids and Cajun/zydeco -- and the attention to detail (e.g., an abundance of 180-gram, heavy-duty vinyl, the format of choice for discerning audiophiles). And finally, consider the care the staff takes to ensure the vinyl you buy is in pristine shape. In oh, so many ways, Euclid Records is this town's best destination for collectors and casual browsers alike.
Best Sporting Goods Store
Long before the advent of the sports superstore, there was Johnny Mac's. In business for some 37 years, the original Sunset Hills store has given rise to four additional outlets. Johnny Mac's caters primarily to team sports, with darn near everything you need for baseball, softball, football, hockey, soccer, lacrosse and, yes, cheerleading. The store also specializes in custom uniforms to outfit your team. Locally owned and operated, Johnny Mac's is a perennial sponsor of sports leagues throughout the region -- meaning the hard-earned coin you drop might come back to serve you someday.
Best Place to Buy Sex Toys
One might think that St. Louisans didn't purchase sex toys until 2001, the year this here particular category first began appearing in our annual kudosfest. But purchase them we do, and there's no better place to stock up on vibrating remote-control panties, glass phalli and Rabbits both Jack and iVibe than Spankys Gifts. Open 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. daily near its counterpart film shop (see "Best Adult Video Store"), the marital-aid emporium opened six years ago and expanded to a Fenton location in 2002, according to store manager Erin Van Buren. "We tend to sell a lot of products that we personally like and know are high-quality," Van Buren imparts. Like the line of products by the Oxygen network's Sue Johanson, the Canadian Rue McClanahan with a proclivity for silicone. "Bachelorette items and strap-ons are currently big sellers -- I think it's becoming trendy for straight women to top their man," notes Van Buren, adding that four out of every ten women own a sex toy. Um, maybe better make that five.
Best Florist
Three years ago Lori Cox was robbed at gunpoint coming out of her new Lafayette Square shop, Studio Flora, on the eve of its grand-opening bash. She threw the party anyway -- and the karma at her adorable floral outpost has been splendid ever since. Cox grew up identifying flowers before foods. Her grandparents were florists on "Flower Row" off Jefferson Avenue, and she worked at their shop fresh out of school before eventually taking it over. Then a midlife divorce left her penniless, and the shop shuttered. But it wasn't long before Cox's faithful customers found her at home, and she was soon back in the pretty business. Today Studio Flora does a brisk trade, supplying weddings, window decorations for area businesses and everything in between.