Favorite CityBeat staff shopping destinations from the 2014 Best Of Cincinnati issue.
BEST USE OF A DEMOLISHED KENTUCKY BARN
The proprietors at Frameshop — Jake Gerth, Jake Baker and Troy Gribler — have found a cool niche by creating beautiful framed works with reclaimed wood from Kentucky barns. That and vintage frames, custom frames, commercial framing options, handpicked frame molding, TV frames and more. Gerth is a local artist, Baker worked as a framer throughout high school and college and Gribler, an Art Academy of Cincinnati graduate and printmaker, joined the team a year in. They now have two locations: one in Over-the-Rhine and one in Lexington, Ky. Both offer framing services, delivery and a wide array of oddities for sale: taxidermied animals, neon signs, beer ephemera and whatever other quirky stuff they pick up. Frameshop, 1317 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-275-9916; 401 W. Main St., Lexington, Ky., 859-904-8048, frameshopusa.com.
BEST REASON TO LEAVE NORTHSIDE FOR VINYL
Everybody’s Records has been a city staple since 1978. They’re a full-service record shop that offers new and used albums, CDs, cassettes — in every genre — and other music merchandise. They also offer a large selection of import and used records. CDs start at $3.99 and vinyl at 99 cents. Check their upcoming events section online for great in-store music performances. Everybody’s Records, 6106 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-531-4500, everybodysrecords.com.
BEST CONSPIRACY CORNER
Located in a booth in the Ohio Valley Antique Mall, Cincinnati’s largest multi-dealer antique mall (open daily), is a weird little corner full of conspiracy theory information. The vendor has built a structure around the booth, and inside you’ll find assorted books and ephemera on pretty much any historic conspiracy you can come up with: aliens, World War II, the JFK assassination, etc. And if you feel like getting more out there, like outer space out there, head to the “Star Wars corner” in the back of the mall. You’ll find a ton of affordable, kind-of-crappy old action figures and vintage toys — mostly Star Wars-related. Or spend a day scouring the mall for a special corner of your own. Ohio Valley Antique Mall, 7285 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, 513-874-7855, ohiovalleyantiques.com.
BEST PLACE TO “CLOCKWORK ORANGE” YOUR HOME
We’re not talking about the milk or the ultra violence or the giant ceramic penises, more along the lines of the Midcentury Modern furnishings. Mainly Art Vintage Home Furnishings is Cincinnati’s largest all vintage-modern furniture, home accessories and lighting store, covering the 1930s Art Deco period through the ’40s, ’50s and up through the 1970s. They carry pieces from designers ranging from Charles Eames and George Nelson to Milo Baughman and Paul McCobb, plus Danish and Italian Modern and Hollywood Regency items. Mainly Art frequently travels to 20th century shows in Miami, Palm Springs, Calif., Chicago and New York, but you can find them — and their artful items — right here in your own backyard. Now you just have to find the cash. Mainly Art Vintage Home Furnishings, 3711 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-378-8261, mainlyart.com.
BEST PLACE TO FIND A GREETING CARD THAT ISN’T BULLSHIT
Poeme is a full-service stationary shop offering everything from completely unique, quirky and designer greeting cards for any and every occasion — babies, marriage, birthdays — to calendars, specialty gift wrap, fancy pens, erasers that look like animals and recipe boxes. Find a gift, get a decorative cardboard safari trophy head, grab a notebook, buy a clock or personalize some type of desk ephemera. They offer custom invite and announcement services and personalized wedding suites, including the ever-popular letterpress variety, plus custom embossers. Poeme, 3446 Michigan Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-4999, poeme-online.com.
BEST PLACE TO STOCK THE LIQUOR CABINET
DEPs fine wine and spirits liquor outlet is known for its wide selection of wines from around the world, beer (24 on tap at the Fort Thomas locale) and booze. And they’re also known for their insanely low prices. Each time you go in, you’ll find a different deal — and it’s not on shit liquor, either. A case of 24 beers for less than $10? A bottle of whiskey for $8? It’s all there. Plus, a lot of their prices on typical brands are at least $1 cheaper than other Kentucky liquor outlets. And they have coupons for mail-in rebates at the check-out. DEPs, 424 Alexandria Pike, Fort Thomas, Ky., 859-781-8105; 670 W. Third St., Covington, Ky., 859-291-2550, depsfinewine.com.
BEST HIP HOP COUNTERTOP IN A CLOTHING STORE
Covington, Ky.’s only men’s boutique, flow — a shop for men, sells nice threads and everything — especially cool socks — but it is owner Jerod Theobald’s Hip-Hop-album-inspired countertop that gets most of the shop’s attention (that and his dog, Ravi). Theobald met designer and crafter Tara Heilman of ROBOT Inside at a City Flea, and they started discussing the concept of her designing tiles for his shop.
He gave her a list of some of his favorite Hip Hop albums, and she turned the iconic album covers from artists like OutKast, A Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z, Mos Def, 2Pac and Beastie Boys into decorative tiles, which Theobald and his dad worked into the rest of the register countertop. If those Hip Hop tiles weren’t enough, Theobald happily blasts Hip Hop records in the shop. flow — a shop for men, 621 Scott Blvd., Covington, Ky., 859-291-3569, gentlemanflow.com.
BEST PLACE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHILE STILL SPOILING YOURSELF
There are more than 27 million victims of human trafficking in the world today, and It’s Only Fair, a little shop in Covington, Ky., sells products made by trafficking survivors in order to enable them to earn a sustainable income and restore their hope and dignity — some of the merchandise even comes with a signed card by the person who made it. Find fair-trade jewelry, shoes, scarves, bath stuff, clothes and more at a great price. Head to their website to learn about the organizations they work with and information on how to throw in-home It’s Only Fair product parties; like a fair-trade Tupperware party. It’s Only Fair, 610 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-443-1079, facebook.com/itsonlyfair.
BEST DOSE OF L.A. IN COLLEGE HILL
The whitewashed walls and hanging air plants inside the converted gas station that now houses Fern Studio will transport you to 1960s Laurel Canyon (or maybe modern day Brooklyn, N.Y., or Santa Fe, N.M., or somewhere other than Cincinnati). This lifestyle design store sells a curated assortment of plants, plant designs, custom vertical gardens and inspired items for the home. Find hard-to-find, curated goods like Kinfolk magazine, stone fruit planters from designers Chen Chen & Kai Williams, air plants mounted on deer antlers, succulents nestled in Pendleton Wool cozies, African woven baskets, Japanese ceramic cups, handcrafted terrariums by local artist Jessie Cundiff, white ceramic planters hanging from leather, wood-beaded necklaces on cord — and on and on. Fern Studio, 6040 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-910-7299, fernstudiocincinnati.com.
BEST REASON TO DRESS BOHEMIAN CHIC
Sister stores Kismet in O’Bryonville and Pangaea Trading Company in Clifton have been around longer than the average boutique’s lifespan, for good reason: They offer a chance to shop local for items you actually want, with friendly service and affordable prices. Offering unique fashion with a global lean (like everyone’s favorite Chinese slippers or mukluks), you’ll find handmade goods from local artists plus international items supporting charities and worldly causes. You’ll also find on-trend seasonal clothing from brands like BB Dakota’s more affordable Jack line, Tulle, Free People, Dansko footwear and more. The flavor is a bit more eclectic and relaxed, but you can find items to suit any style and budget — most items are less than $50. And they carry everything to outfit you from head-to-toe: intimates, dresses, shirts, jackets, shoes, socks, jewelry, bags, etc. Pangaea Trading Company, 326 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-751-3330; Kismet, 2037 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-871-7879.
BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP FOR GIRLS AND BEGINNERS
In geek culture, it’s not uncommon for girls to feel a little judged when they walk into a comic shop. But Queen City Comics is staffed by a clan of non-sexist, uncritical workers who really care about comics — they’ve been operating for more than 25 years — which makes it a great place to shop for women, men or beginners. Even if you’ve never picked up a comic or graphic novel, the expert staff will direct you to something you’d be interested in, without turning their nose up at you. And if you’re a fanboy or fangirl, they have all the back-issues (about 50,000 displayed), new issues (in-store every Wednesday), collectibles, trade paperbacks and variant covers you’re looking for. The shop is always fully stocked with fairly priced items (comics, trading cards, movie posters, toys), and they even offer customers a chance to open their own file, which means the staff will set aside your favorite books for you each month and offer you a discount. Queen City Comics & Card Co., 6101 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-351-5674; 6600 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, 513-860-5805, queencitycomics.com.
BEST MOST ORGANIZED VINTAGE CLOTHIER AND COSTUMER
Sometimes walking into a vintage store is like falling into a clothes hamper — disorganized and partly stained. But owners Tim Willig and Ashley Marie Bowman are the knowledgeable overloads of Casablanca Vintage, a vintage estate tidily crammed full of clothing and accessories from the 1920s to the 1970s (plus some from the ’80s and ’90s). They specialize in quality vintage, separated by type and size, with decades written on the tags. They have several options for costume rental if you need glamour for the night, or they can also help you buy pieces from specific time periods for your personal collection. Tim also operates his Awesome Time Shoe and Leather Repair out of the storefront. Casablanca Vintage, 3944 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-541-6999, casablancavintage.com.
BEST MUSICALLY INCLINED ART SUPPLY STORE
Rock Paper Scissors took over the former Smartfish Studio & Sustainable Supply storefront on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine last year. The new shop is an expansion of the previous tenant, offering similar sustainably produced, locally crafted art supplies, but RPS now offers local records and music merchandise, creative workshops and art exhibitions. Rock = music. Paper = art supplies. Scissors = workshops. Rock Paper Scissors, 1301 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, rpscincinnati.com.
BEST LOCAL MENSWEAR ALTERNATIVE TO FAST FASHION
Article menswear takes the stance that men shouldn’t have to shop the back of the store at a corporate retail chain; men are more than that. And Article offers a highly curated, highly designed, high-quality shop, crafted with men in mind. Their merchandise is genuine and made to last in both style and durability. Their brands run the gamut from local hand-sewn denim purveyor Noble Denim to historically tested Wolverine footwear and Beverly Hills, Calif.’s Baxter grooming products to Penfield outwear. You’ll also find high quality leather goods, rugged blankets and an assortment of accessories including salvaged pocket squares and ties — both regular and bow — from the locals at Artfully Disheveled. Plus, when you walk in the door, they offer you a Chemex-brewed coffee. Article, 1150 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-1150, articlemenswear.com.
BEST PROOF PHYSICAL BOOKS WILL NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE
In the past few years, large chain bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble have proven they’re not too big to fail, and smaller independent bookstores have demonstrated they’re able to take on the Goliath chains and win. No other local bookstore exemplifies this more than The Booksellers on Fountain Square — from the people that brought you Joseph-Beth — which opened last year across the street from Fountain Square. They sell these things called books — we’re talking about books made out of pulp, not downloadable, Kindle-loving e-books. Inside, the bookstore looks like a relic of Borders but on a smaller scale. You can purchase cookbooks, magazines, attend author signings and even buy a cup of coffee. Booksellers gives faith that the death of publishing and books made out of paper isn’t nigh. The Booksellers on Fountain Square, 505 Vine St., Downtown, 513-258-2038, booksellersonfountainsquare.com.
BEST BOOKSTORE TO LOSE A DAY IN
The Ohio Book Store offers five floors crammed with more than 300,000 books and magazines. With that much product, you never know what you’re going to find; it’s like a literary treasure hunt. Situated in a historic downtown building (a 1916 Gothic Revival), the bookstore has been open since 1940. On top of their huge selection of reads, they also offer rare book appraisals, book repair, custom binding, archival boxes, personalization and book restoration, specializing in preserving the period look and feel of books. Ohio Book Store, 726 Main St., Downtown, 513-621-5142, ohiobookstore.net. B
BEST COMPANY TO HELP YOUR CRAPPY BAND MEMBER SOUND BETTER
Boutique guitar pedal company El Rey Effects sells affordable, hand-wired analog effects pedals for musicians, by musicians. Jimmy Nielsen (former member of De Los Muertos, Switchblade Syndicate and Dr. Bombay) and his custom pedals have been featured in Guitar Player magazine and at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) conference in California. Find the pedals in-store locally at Tone House Music in Northside (4040 Hamilton Ave., tone-house-music.com), which carries used and consignment instruments of all types from violins to guitars and drums along with specialty items. elreyfx.com.
BEST CONTEMPORARY KIDS GIFTSHOP
When imagining what’s inside the Contemporary Art Center’s gift shop, you’d think the items might skew a little abstract. And you’d be right … kind of. While the CAC is ultra-modern, it’s also quite kid-friendly. Their upstairs UnMuseum is an interactive gallery designed to offer kids and parents an innovative, enjoyable museum experience, where they commission first-rate artists to create special exhibits for young audiences — and they take the same approach to their gift shop. Find artful, intelligent and interactive items for kids such as color-while-you-eat placemats, landscape dinner sets, plush toys and more. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-345-8400, contemporaryartscenter.org.
BEST URBAN FAMILY BOUTIQUE
If you’re looking for organic, inspiring and entertaining clothes, learning tools and toys for tots, head to Tantrum in Northside. The store offers products that turn cardboard boxes into monsters, backpacks into sharks and Punk rock onsies that turn your baby into Mommy’s little Misfit. They also have all the Danishy wood toys and European brain-training items that are hard to find in the Tristate. And while you’re there, find stuff for your home (candles, incense, spiritual wall hangings, quirky paper products) and yourself (jewelry, adult-sized kilts, mustache wax, scarves). A one-stop shop for the eclectic, green-leaning, Punkish modern home. Tantrum, 4183 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-4183, tantrumnorthside.com.