Best Of 2015

2015 Shops & Services Staff Picks: Cincinnati's best shopping and service destinations as selected by CityBeat staff.

Where to Shop: Staff Picks


Cincinnati's best shopping and service destinations as selected by CityBeat staff.


BEST HAND-TIED BOUQUETS
It’s refreshing both literally and figuratively that floral arranging has transitioned from a tightly puckered ’80s roses-and-baby’s-breath-equal-high-class-fancy philosophy to something organic, ethereal and loose, utilizing herbs, wildflowers and natural branches (see Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Saipua). Locally, Una Floral is bringing a breath of fresh air to the world of arranging. Graphic-designer-turned-florist Patricia Duque Campos uses her training in color and composition to create beautifully wild bouquets, centerpieces and wreaths, combining textural elements like rose hips and eucalyptus with unique florals like pincushion protea, scabiosa pods and pale ranunculus. The result is both soft and expansive. Duque Campos frequently does pop-up flower markets with Fern, and is also available for weddings. Una Floral, unafloral.com.

BEST INSPIRATIONAL GRAFFITI
Roebling Point Books and Coffee is a bookstore, coffee shop and community gathering place, and its outdoor chalk wall is the place to read the most uplifting graffiti in town. Roebling Point is the best place to find local hiking and outdoor guides, along with a well-curated collection of fiction, history, kids books and more. It’s founded by Richard Hunt, publisher at local Keen Communications, who believes that by reading, reasoning and reflecting we lift one another up and become our own best selves. Plus caffeine, which can’t hurt, either. Roebling Point Books and Coffee, 306 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 513-607-1206, facebook.com/roeblingpointbooksandcoffee.

BEST PLACE TO GET INTERNATIONAL BLING THIS SPRING 
Thanks to trendsetters like Kim K., neutral colors and minimalistic looks have been duplicated by and injected into the commercial clothing market. If you are wearing all black or nude this season, dress it up! The Little Mahatma has extraordinary, high quality accessories with deep spiritual meaning. The shop sells local, recycled and fair trade jewelry and goods from across the street and around the globe. Add a statement to your look with a delicately crafted turquoise, coral and copal Tibetan silver-plated brass ring. They also carry handmade baskets from Centre for Sustainable Development, a nonprofit in Ghana. This women-empowering buy will keep a girl in school. The Little Mahatma, 1205 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-723-1287, thelittlemahatma.com.


BEST OLD-SCHOOL ART FORM AT WORK IN OTR
Brian Stuparyk operates a vintage letterpress by foot from his Over-the-Rhine shop Steam Whistle Letterpress. A far cry from Hallmark’s mass-produced greeting cards, Steam Whistle creates paper goods one card at a time, one color at a time. Just in time for the 2014 holidays, Stuparyk and artist Ashley Kroninger produced a Cincy-themed activity book, Cincinnati Book-O-Fun. The book is full of local jokes and tidbits — and crayons! — for kids and adults alike. Browse Steam Whistle’s one-of-a-kind cards and more at local shops like Rock Paper Scissors and MiCa 12/v. Steam Whistle Letterpress, 1342 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-621-6800, steamwhistlepress.com.

BEST PLACE TO BUY OCCULT ITEMS, GET YOUR FORTUNE READ AND LEARN ABOUT GANGSTERS 
Jill of all trades Wanda Kay was once a Country singer, but today she has a penchant for magic. Kay moved her Wilder, Ky., ghost shop, Wanda Kay’s, into Newport’s Gambling Museum, where you can buy mystical items such as dreamcatchers, incense and goblin figurines or “consult” with her and a staff of psychics and tarot card readers about your future. Kay also investigates hauntings and gives paranormal tours of the supposedly spirit-filled museum, showing guests where the Newport gangsters did their biddings. Basically, she’s a female Ghostbuster. Wanda Kay’s Ghost Shop, 602 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-1689, facebook.com/wandakaysghostshop.


BEST WAY TO BE OBSESSED WITH YOUR DOG FOR A CAUSE 
For dog owners, a pup is more than a pet — it’s a family member. For those who want to flaunt, brag and show off their adorable canine friend, Cards For Canines is the perfect avenue to boast for a good cause. Choose from an assortment of one-of-a-kind handmade prints or simply submit a photo of your own furry friend and they’ll create a custom set of illustrated cards. All proceeds go toward no-kill shelters in the Cincinnati area, so you can have a healthy obsession with your own dog while simultaneously supporting a rescue dog and the shelters that house them. Purchase an order through Etsy and email your photos to [email protected] etsy.com/shop/cardsforcanines.

BEST MUCH-NEEDED GROCERY ADDITION TO LUDLOW AVENUE 
It’s hard to believe a thriving neighborhood like Clifton has been without a full-scale grocery store since IGA closed a few years ago. Clifton’s denizens struggled to find sundries until Clifton Natural Foods moved from McMillan Street to the Gaslight District, giving Cliftonians a much-needed place to shop. It’s not just a typical store, as its bread and butter, so to speak, is health food. Bob and Aline Craig sell everything from vitamins and organic produce to local milk, snack foods and Sixteen Bricks breads. The new store is smaller than their former one, but it packs a mighty punch of good food and cheer. Clifton Natural Foods, 336 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-961-6111, cliftonnaturalfoods.com.

BEST PLACE TO FIND YOUR INNER PEACE AND YOUR INNER ABS
Work out and Zen out at The Breathing Room, a Pilates and yoga studio that gives the (literal) full-body experience. Its unique classes strengthen both the body and the mind, with core aligning Pilates equipment and restorative yoga and meditation practices. “Be at one” with a hot bod and a peaceful disposition while practicing in a beautiful space. Get toned, tight, sculpted and centered with help from knowledgeable and personable instructors. The Breathing Room, 2128 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-321-4433, thebreathingroom.com.

BEST PLACE TO PROCURE WALL ART
Is MiCA 12/v a gift shop or an art gallery? Does it really matter? You’ll find thoughtfully curated goods in the shop at the corner of 12th and Vine, right in the midst of Over-the-Rhine’s restaurant mecca — a location it settled into even before the neighborhood took off. Many of the items for sale are created by Cincinnati artists — like Ephemera temporary tattoos by Aurore Fournier — but Mike and Carolyn Deininger also explore pottery, dishes, home décor, toys, cards and more by artists and independent designers from far beyond the Tristate. It’s a great place to browse, and you can set up wedding and baby gift registries if that’s your thing. MiCA 12/v, 1201 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-533-1974, shopmica.com.

BEST GUYS TO BE YOUR FRIENDS AND KEEP YOUR CAR RUNNING
Greg, Mark and Jason are the personable guys at Whities Car Care in Walnut Hills, a shop specializing in servicing and preventative maintenance. The business has been at it for more than 70 years; today they focus on vehicles from Asian manufacturers, emphasizing the quality of their work and doing exactly what you need — no more. It’s like having your car-savvy brother or dad work on your car. They care about customers and even maintain a few beaters you can borrow for free on the day they’re getting your wheels back in shape. Whities Car Care, 1701 Madison Road, Walnut Hills, 513-221-1666, whitiescarcare.com.


BEST JAPANESE SHOPPING RIGHT HERE IN THE TRISTATE
Putting the finishing touches on a room in your home? Nothing ties a room together like incorporating a sophisticated touch of culture. Hanamiya Shop provides a variety of fine quality porcelain and accessories originating in Japan, though it often highlights local artists and craftsmen — earlier this year, the shop featured ceramics by Cincinnati artist Ayako Lightning. Hanamiya also offers origami classes and a Furoshiki (wrapping cloth) workshop to take your experience even further. Follow the shop on Facebook for the latest on Japanese cultural events around town. Hanamiya Shop, 7795 Cooper Road, Montgomery, 513-891-8738, hanamiyashop.com.

BEST ANSWER TO “WHERE’D YOU FIND THAT COOL T-SHIRT?” 
Looking for clothing that tells a story? You’ll find it at Homage. The shop got its start in Columbus with Ohio State University imagery on T-shirts, but fear not: At its Over-the-Rhine shop, Cincinnati is the focus, with vintage tees representing sports teams from UC and XU plus many more ways to show your allegiance and pride in a hip, low-key way. Ohio University, Miami University, UK and IU fans can find ways to show off, as there are miscellaneous items from “Surf Ohio” skateboarding gear to vintage sports posters. Be cool. Homage, 1232 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-834-7205, homage.com.

BEST FRIENDLY AND AFFORDABLE WAY TO STAY CLEAN
Since 1937, the friendly folks at Atlas Dry Cleaners have been making Northern Kentuckians and Cincinnatians look good. They provide full-service dry cleaning and laundry services at competitive prices, plus free pick-up and delivery services if you can’t make it to their landmark location with the cool marquee within a stone’s throw of Newport on the Levee. They’ll recycle your hangers and even offer reusable garment bags. And you can pick up a Tootsie Roll while they chase down your duds. Atlas Dry Cleaners, 328 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-9745, atlasdrycleaners.com.

BEST PLACE FOR A QUIET CUPPA AND BROWSING VINTAGE BOOKS
Stroll up Main Street in Over-the-Rhine and wander into Iris BookCafé, a modest eatery with all-natural ingredients and locally roasted coffee. Check out vintage books — shelves and shelves of them — there for the browsing and purchase: architecture, art, philosophy, literature, drama, film, cooking, Americana, children’s books and titles in numerous foreign languages (including Polish!). Pull a volume off a shelf and get lost in it, lingering at a quiet table with a cup of tea or coffee or sitting outside in the magical urban garden when the weather is right. And don’t forget to check out the current photography exhibit on display. Iris BookCafé, 1331 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-2665, irisbookcafe.com.

BEST NEW (YET VINTAGE) ORIGINAL WEDDING SERVICE 
Want to put a fresh yet old-fashioned spin on your wedding photo setup — or even your reception? Farmhouse chic or Midcentury quirky? Queen City Vignette offers for rent a dizzying array of vintage furnishings, floral china, props and more, from the eclectic to the extravagant. Think velvet Victorian loveseats or thrones, ’70s butterfly chairs, unique banquet tables and seating, plus rather surprising items such as globes and trophy deer heads. Not only can founders Amber Zaragoza and Emma Durham create whatever look you might desire, their environmental styling services and “library of curiosities” are also available for photo shoots and events of all kinds. Queen City Vignette, 2530 Spring Grove Ave. Unit 3G, Camp Washington, 513-813-VTG1, queencityvignette.com.

BEST DOGGIE REHAB
As in physical therapy, not help with substance abuse (dogs don’t even know how to use money to buy drugs). MedVet, typically classified by public perception as a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital, also houses a team of highly specialized doctors with focuses in oncology, neurology, ophthalmology, cardiology, surgery and rehabilitation. Their physical rehab program, for post-surgery, after an accident or to manage a chronic condition (from arthritis to paralysis), is unparalleled in Cincinnati. Their fantastic team, led by certified canine rehabilitation practitioner Shawn Zimmermann, creates an individualized therapy plan for your pet, which blends passive and active range of motion exercises you can do at home with in-office cold laser therapy, massage therapy and one of the only aquatic treadmills in town. Exercising on the treadmill helps pets build strength and endurance in a warm, low-impact aquatic setting. MedVet also has a strong focus on holistics, with options for herbal painkillers to complement your pet’s pain management plan. MedVet, 3964 Red Bank Road, Fairfax, 513-561-0069, medvetforpets.com.

BEST SUPPORT ORGANIZATION FOR CANCER PATIENTS
If you, a family member or a friend faces a cancer diagnosis, the next stop should be Cancer Support Community of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky (CSC). Now in its 25th year, CSC offers more than 200 free programs per month in locations throughout the Greater Cincinnati area, everything from tai chi to life planning, healthy eating and traditional support groups for adults, couples and children. CSC staff and its counselors understand that cancer is more than a shock; it’s a plethora of emotions along with information overload. They’re compassionate, concerned and helpful. And all of CSC’s programs are free. Cancer Support Community of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, 4918 Cooper Road, Blue Ash, 513-791-4060, cancersupportcincinnati.org.

BEST HAND-CRAFTED JEWELRY TO WEAR EVERY DAY
Searching for the perfect piece of jewelry that is both unique and wearable on an everyday basis? Libby Andress designs and crafts her own line of minimalist silver jewelry — and occasionally gold or other mixed metal — and sells it in her namesake Libby boutique, alongside a huge selection of fun and ridiculously affordable costume baubles, plus a few other hand-crafted jewelry lines. The Cincinnati native, who attended New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and studied metal-smithing at Rhode Island School of Design, is inspired by classic modernist artists — Alexander Calder, for one. Tip: Ask Libby which designs are hers. She also does repairs and custom orders. Libby, 1420 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-409-4256, facebook.com/shoplibby.

BEST SHOE REPAIR WITH A SMILE
Clarence Howell has been repairing shoes for more than 35 years and he’s a life master. After relocating from Walnut Hills to St. Bernard, his shop now calls Pleasant Ridge home. Howell is meticulous in his work and lavishes the same care on others’ shoes as he does on his own. Howell does the standard stuff beautifully, but he stands out as the go-to guy for shoes or a purse that needs extra TLC. The only thing that outshines the repaired leather is Howell’s delightfully warm smile. Stop by during Pleasant Ridge’s monthly Shop Hop weekend for a discount on orders. Clarence Howell Shoe Repair, 6089 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-531-7463, clarencehowellshoerepair.com.

BEST AQUARIUM TO BUY COLLECTABLE ITEMS
Visiting an aquarium might call to mind childhood fieldtrips or awkward first dates, but what about shopping? The Underwater Trading Co. inside the Newport Aquarium has numerous neat souvenirs, special gifts and collector’s items. Expect standard aquarium memorabilia in addition to hats, jewelry and one of the largest collections of plush critters. Want to shop without visiting the aquarium? Cheat. We won’t tell. All Newport on the Levee guests are welcome to stop in and shop without purchasing a ticket for the aquarium. The Underwater Trading Co., One Aquarium Way, Newport, Ky., 859-815-1444, newportaquarium.com

BEST SALON TO GET A HAIRCUT AND A FREE FACIAL 
Who says you need to visit an expensive salon to get your hair did? Covington’s Greenline Salon feels fancy while offering reasonable prices (about $35-$50 for women’s cuts; less for men) and nice pampering perks. The prices include a wash, a mini-facial or hand and arm massage, a style and a drink. Refer a friend and you’ll both get $10 off. The facial or arm massage occurs at every single visit and adds a relaxing touch. And the people who work there are hip, friendly, knowledgeable and do hair right. Greenline Salon, 201 W. Sixth St., Covington, Ky., 859-292-8111, greenlinesalon.com.

BEST PLACE TO TRICK YOUR KIDS INTO HAVING FUN LEARNING
With snow days seemingly increasing by the year, it’s more crucial than ever for parents to have a backup plan to keep their kids engaged for a few hours. Totter’s Otterville, an educational entertainment center geared toward children through second grade, provides classes that incorporate teaching, developing social skills and fun. It’s all in one place and for the whole family to enjoy. Relax before or after programs at the café and enjoy the many menu options. Totter’s also offers birthday parties and group discounts for daycares, scout troops, camps and more. Totter’s Otterville, 4314 Boron Drive, Covington, Ky., 859-491-1441, tottersotterville.com


BEST GUILT-FREE CLOTHING SHOPPING
Simply put, founder Moe Rouse takes the term “charity shop” to a whole new level. Far from an ordinary secondhand store, Mannequin Boutique stocks an amazingly eclectic array of gently used and vintage high-quality and designer clothing, shoes and accessories for women (alongside a smaller menswear selection). The best part of all? The store’s proceeds benefit area charities, such as Caracole, Freestore Foodbank and Tender Mercies, among others. We almost don’t want to let others in on this semi-secret treasure trove of unique items, but then again it is all for a good cause. Mannequin Boutique, 1311 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-813-3982, mannequinboutique.org

BEST VETERINARIAN WHO LOVES PETS AS MUCH AS YOU DO
Dr. Robert Biederman, founder of the Plum Street Pet Clinic, is an excellent downtown vet who treats dogs, cats and “pocket pets” in the Tristate area. “Dr. Bob” is noted for his compassion and the special personal connection he forms with his patients and their pets to make sure he meets the needs of his clients. He shares his encyclopedic knowledge of all things pets on his weekly radio program on WMKV, Our Best Friends. Plum Street offers surgery, endocrinology, dental care and even acupuncture for pets. Plum Street Pet Clinic, 427 Plum St., Downtown, 513-961-1110, plumstreetpet.com.

BEST LOCALLY MADE WHEEL-THROWN DESSERT PLATE
Artist and potter Christie Goodfellow is the mastermind behind CGCERAMICS. She wheel-throws beautiful, earthy and super on-trend plates, bowls and mugs with a clean aesthetic that references Midcentury Modern, Japanese and Scandinavian design. Her stoneware (which culinary pop-up Please used as plateware for its dinner series) is finished with warm and natural colors and glazes, like her everyday bowl in a waxy, translucent white, or her sepia-toned dessert plates with a one-sided sheen. Imbibing from a CG cup and saucer will elevate your morning coffee to a Zen experience. Available at MiCA 12/v, Park + Vine, Fern and cgceramics.etsy.com. CGCERAMICS, cgceramics.net.

BEST ANTIQUING WEEKEND — OR WEEKDAY — DESTINATION 
Riverside Centre Antique Mall features more than enough for any antique explorer’s dreams. On any given day one might find Coca-Cola memorabilia, movie posters, vintage hats and repurposed items ranging from jewelry chests to lamps amongst a whole plethora of other items, but that’s only scratching the surface of what this place has to offer. This 30,000-square-foot space stocks up on new items regularly, and it’s not just for the weekend crowd. Serious pickers and casual browsers alike can enjoy this jaunt down memory lane seven days a week. Riverside Centre Antique Mall, 3742 Kellogg Ave., East End, 513-321-1430, riversidecentreantiques.com.

BEST MEAT PARADISE FIT FOR RON SWANSON
According to Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson, the three most important people in a man’s life are his barber, his butcher and his lover. With more than 120 years of experience, the folks at Avril-Bleh & Sons Meat Market should be able to fill one of those voids (we can’t speak to their hair-cutting abilities or romantic status). The shop offers a vast selection of cheeses and deli meats (the finest cuts of beef, pork and chicken, plus a wide variety of sausages and cold cuts), but they also deliver on the meals they prepare themselves. Order burgers, wraps, soups or salads for lunch; they even have breakfast foods, which would definitely please Mr. Swanson. Avril-Bleh & Sons Meat Market, 33 E. Court St., Downtown, 513-241-2433, avril-blehmeats.com.

BEST JUDGMENT-FREE GYM
There are probably a lot of people out there still trying to convince themselves to keep their New Year’s resolution by working out. It’s difficult to find a local gym that has a fair membership fee and also offers support and doesn’t judge its members. That’s where Hero Gym comes in. Entering its fifth year of fitness services, this gym promises to help get you started on your road to better health at decent prices and offers social support through thoughtful direction and by keeping it “meathead” free. Hero Gym, 4025 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-307-9666, facebook.com/herogym.

BEST PLACE TO FIND YOUR CRAZY CAT LADY DOWN THE STREET
If you’re a fan of all things feline or are shopping for someone who is, Confetti Cats boutique carries all sorts of cat-related goodness in a space where you can surely expect to find a few neighborhood cat enthusiasts. Peruse everything from cat toys, collars, food, gifts and more, all encompassed within one cat paradise. There are even human items like T-shirts, socks and jewelry for the proudest cat lovers who aren’t afraid to show it. Also, what’s a cat store without a true cat? Be greeted by the two cats that run rampant around the store’s parameter. Go visit right meow! Confetti Cats, 3184 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-533-9996, confetticats.com

BEST PLACE TO PAY IT FORWARD
Good quality, gently used merchandise sold for a good cause awaits your arrival at Treasures 4 Charity Shop. When stepping into the shop, you’ll find some of the best deals tied to life’s finer reward of helping others. The upscale shop sells donated and consigned items, and 70 percent of its proceeds go to six charities in the Cincinnati area. Look for everything from furniture to accessories, including artwork, china, collectibles, non-upholstered furniture, home decor, jewelry and other delightful treasures. Treasures 4 Charity Shop, 2723 Woodburn Ave., Walnut Hills, 513-221-0555, treasures4charity.net


BEST THING TO PUT YOUR STUFF IN
Stuff. You’ve got it and you’ve got to stick it somewhere. Baskets are pretty played out, so if you’re looking for something a bit cleaner and more modular, look no further than Simple Wood Goods. Owned and operated by local carpenter and Harvard-educated designer Matthew Swaidan, the homegoods company creates a small series of aptly named simple wood “goods,” from plant stands made of ash and white acrylic to locally harvested steam-bent walnut coat hooks and Swaidan’s incredibly clever storage cube. These “Liftable. Stackable. Openable. Closeable. Moveable. And not so breakable” cubes are made of Baltic birch with round little maple feet and sturdy acrylic lids, which slide into place to keep things in order and add a colorful splash of white, green, black, red, yellow or blue to your décor. Perfectly sized for vinyl collections, books or as burrow box hiding places for small dogs. Simple Wood Goods, simplewoodgoods.com.

BEST ADDITION TO THE URBAN FLEA MARKET SCENE
For many locals, going to a flea market used to entail a trip up to Monroe, Ohio, lots of dusty rummaging and what can only be described as a Beanie Baby graveyard. While Traders World is still kickin’ it up I-75, the urban flea market scene is thriving in the city. The City Flea started the trend in 2011 and the Oakley Fancy Flea (O.F.F. Market) joined in 2013. You won’t find bins of unopened McDonald’s toys here; expect handmade, vintage and otherwise unique furniture, home décor, clothing and accessories. Stop by on the final Saturday of each month, May through September, to browse the collections of numerous local vendors. Oakley Fancy Flea, 2980 Madison Road, Oakley, theoffmarket.org


BEST PLACE TO MAKE YOUR PINTEREST DESIGN BOARD COME TO LIFE
Nestled in an old gas station in College Hill, Fern floral studio has blossomed in its craft in more ways than one. In addition to specializing in custom plant design installations and home accents, Fern offers a variety of trendy classes for greenthumbs and crafters alike. Learn traditional plant-based crafts like floral arranging and wreath-making or try your hand at weaving, calligraphy and macramé to make those Pinterest dreams a reality. The classes even come with free charcuterie and cocktails. Fern, 6040 Hamilton Ave., North College Hill, fern-shop.com.  

BEST HERB EXPERIENCE THAT WON’T GET YOU ARRESTED
Olive oil has become such a popular ingredient to cook with and consume, shops devoted to the fresh stuff are popping up across the city. Step into The Spicy Olive and the scent of herb-infused olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars will whisk you abroad. Where to? Italy, Greece, Spain, South Africa, Brazil and other countries from which fresh olive oils are sourced, depending on the season. As for recent concern about oil labeling regulations — “Is your ‘extra virgin’ olive oil a rip-off?” headlines inquire — The Spicy Olive’s oils are ultra-premium grade, which is a better quality than even extra virgin. They also offer oil and vinegar tastings, pairings and cooking classes. The Spicy Olive, 2736 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-376-9061; 7671 Cox Lane, West Chester, 513-847-4397, thespicyolive.com.

BEST QUICK-STOP, NON-DOCTOR’S OFFICE DOCTOR
For many people, spending time in a doctor’s office waiting room is akin to turning your body into a petri dish for all the other sick people’s germs to join forces and make you feel even worse. The Little Clinic has an answer: Pop into one of its locations inside local Kroger stores and subject other people to your germs instead of the other way around. Founded in Louisville, Ky., in 2003, and purchased by Kroger in 2010, the chain of health care providers sets up certified nurse practitioners in nice small offices inside retail stores, offering patients a convenient way to see a nurse practitioner without requiring an appointment. Kroger stores typically offer a pharmacy as well, so you can get your meds and all the juices and vitamins you need to feel physically and mentally prepared to start healing (do vitamins really do anything?). Find Little Clinics inside 20 or so Greater Cincinnati Kroger locations, including those in Norwood, Delhi, Newport and Fort Mitchell. The Little Clinic, thelittleclinic.com.

BEST WAY TO LOSE YOUR MARBLES OVER BEADS 
Gems, charms and crystals of all sizes, styles and colors fill World of Beads’ every nook and cranny. Overwhelmed by the options? The helpful staff can guide you in the right direction or teach you the basics at one of their many jewelry-making classes. Check a current schedule for offerings like Silversmithing for Beginners, Introduction to Beaded Jewelry or Metal Stamping. World of Beads also hosts private groups, kids’ birthday parties and even a “Brunch and Beading” event at Unwind wine bar next door. World of Beads, 2725 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-5600, aworldofbeads.com


BEST MODERN SEWING STUDIO FOR YOUNGER GENERATIONS
Sewing classes support modern day taste at Sewn Studio, where you can expect to find a vast range of fresh fabrics. Sewing doesn’t have to be for folks over 60. These classes suit all levels, including young adults and teens, with a beginner sewing series and fun fabric patterns. Each month, a selection of workshops are put together to enhance the experience for beginner levels to savvy advanced sewers, and no one will be judged for being stuck on the whole threading the needle thing. Sewn Studio, 3212 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-0600, sewnstudio.com

BEST EXCUSE FOR FELLAS TO GET PAMPERED LONGER THAN THEIR WIVES
When Nick Salzano arrived in Cincinnati in 1956 straight out of Italy, he brought enthusiasm, perseverance and skill with him to open Salzano’s Hair Stylist Barbering Salon. Salzano passed the business down to his three sons, who have undoubtedly worked to put integrity into every straight razor shave and cut, instilled with their father’s quality work. Expect to walk into a specialty line of products, sit back in the barber’s chair and let years of experience do the talking with perfected shaves and quality cuts at this family-owned space. Salzano’s is filled with character and old-school tradition. Salzano’s Hair Stylist Barbering Salon, 201 E. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-241-9669, gsalzanos.com


Burlington Antique Show
Photo: Provided
BEST NEW FINDS FROM A FORMER TIME 
Featuring more than 200 antique dealers, the Burlington Antique Show takes over the Boone County Fairgrounds every third Sunday, April through October. Shoppers from around the region are drawn to hunt for collector’s items and hidden treasures, and camera crews from PBS and the History Channel have been known to stop by and scope out the action. The antique show has a 6 a.m. early bird opening, so rise and shine and get to “picking” while the getting’s good. Burlington Antique Show, Boone County Fairgrounds, 5919 Idlewild Road, Burlington, Ky., 513-922-6847, burlingtonantiqueshow.com

BEST BEARD OIL
Northside Chop Shop owner Scott Ponder already has a solid reputation when it comes to his ability to cut, color and style hair. Now he’s moving on to the face. His Ohio Valley Beard Supply company offers elixirs, finishing balms, washes and conditioners for all types of beards: long beards, short beards, course beards, billy goat beards, etc. If you can grow it, Ohio Valley Beard Supply will help you groom it. You can buy the products all over town, including at Park + Vine, Joseph-Beth, Article and the Chop Shop (obviously). Elixirs, like the Hemingway, are scented with juniper, cedar and grapefruit, leaving your beard with a subtle scent and shine. Balms, like the Lincoln (vetiver, pine, sage and sandalwood), tame fly-aways. And the washes and conditioners, well, wash and condition. Find a full list of retailers online. Ohio Valley Beard Supply, ohiovalleybeard.com.

BEST GROWING BUSINESS FOR THE GROWING GARDEN
After a career in a landscape design for 20 years, Gabe Rice decided to pursue his passion for garden décor. Ten years later, Rice’s Renaissance Garden Ornament offers everything necessary to add the finishing touches on breathtaking outdoor scenery. The 3,000-square-foot warehouse showroom carries a wide selection of distinct decorative items ranging from classic to contemporary, including pottery, fountains, birdbaths, furniture and more to add any accent to any garden. Renaissance Garden Ornament, 3209 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-2430, rengarden.com

DAS BEST DESTINATION FOR OKTOBERFEST APPAREL YEAR-ROUND
Between Cincinnati’s bevy of breweries, love of pork sausages and the biggest Oktoberfest outside of Germany, it’s clear that our Deutschland heritage runs deep. If you’re looking to incorporate more lederhosen in your wardrobe, Wiesnkoenig USA has them — along with dirndls, boots and even a tracht for your phone. Inspired by traditional German fashions and trendsetters across Europe, Wiesnkoenig will help unleash your inner German year-round. The company opened its flagship U.S. store in Over-the-Rhine last August. Wiesnkoenig USA, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, wiesnkoenig-usa.com

BEST VINYL IN THE VILLAGE
If you think vinyl went away with Woodstock, drop your 8-tracks and head to Sugarcube Records. New releases — yes, they still come out on vinyl — as well as vintage, Indie and Punk, Alt, Garage Rock, Funk and Soul — a little bit of everything, even vintage band T-shirts. And if you gave away your turntable, they have those, too. Owner Craig Baker is a hunter — he’s gonna find that treasure you want. Record Store Day is coming on April 18. Celebrate with some Sugarcube. Sugarcube Records, 609 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-291-2823, sugarcuberecords.com.

BEST GAP OUTLET OF FURNITURE
A deal is only as good as the quality of the product, and at Bargains and Buyouts, there are serious deals to be found. The outlet carries a dizzying array of furniture for all rooms, rugs and décor at close-out costs. If you enjoy the hunt of tearing through a Gap Outlet rack to find a steal, you’ll love this place. But remember the classic outlet saying: If you see something you like, but it now — items don’t stick around for long at Bargains and Buyouts, especially as more folks divulge details about this hidden gem. Bargains and Buyouts, 5150 Glencrossing Way, Western Hills, 888-729-6074, bargainsandbuyouts.com.

BEST JEANS THAT COULD GET YOU DRUNK
Local jean company Noble Denim joined forces with Bulleit Bourbon last fall to hatch an experiment: What happens when you age and over-dye jeans in freshly dumped bourbon barrels? The result was 50 pairs of deep blue denim jeans with hints of a caramel color. The boozy jeans aren’t available for purchase, but you can order other small batch jeans, canvas pants, T-shirts, sweatshirts and more. Noble Denim won the first-place $15,000 grand prize in ArtWorks’ Big Pitch competition last August. Noble Denim, 1212 Sycamore St. #25, Over-the-Rhine, 513-512-4998, nobledenim.com.
 
BEST ADDITION TO THE NORTHSIDE SKATE SCENE
Newport, Ky.’s Galaxie Skateshop expanded with a Northside location in March 2014. Owner Gary Collins (also founder of Instrument Skateboards) is a major player in the local skating scene, hosting various events, representing the needs of local skaters in meetings with city officials and serving as a positive role model for many young kids in the community. To him, the shop is more of a community hub than just a board and show store. Galaxie hosted Northern Kentucky native Alex Davis’ professional debut release party last December. Galaxie Skateshop, 625 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-7292; 4202 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-3400, galaxieskateshop.blogspot.com.
 
BEST WAY TO RECLAIM YOUR MAILBOX
The idea of mail has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Between email and texting, tweeted engagement announcements and Facebook e-vites, physical paper mail has been relegated to random bills and credit card offers. Madeira’s custom and personalized paper and gift boutique Designs By Dawson has the tools to take back your mailbox. Dawson’s does everything from custom wedding invites, save-the-dates and programs to personal stationary for more everyday correspondence. Designs by Dawson, 6929 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-827-9100, designsbydawson.com.

BEST WAY TO KEEP A PIECE OF THE GORGE WITH YOU ALWAYS
Located about 150 miles southeast of the city, Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest is a favorite weekend camping destination for locals. Cincinnati maker Kristin Guastaferro of Cannonball Handmade uses wood sustainably forested in the Red River Gorge for cabin construction to create beautifully crafted geometric jewelry and other accessories. Carry a piece of the Gorge wherever you go or rep your hometown pride with cute Ohio-shaped earrings. She has also started to experiment with leather goods like belts and wallets. Cannonball Handmade, etsy.com/shop/cannonballhandmade.

BEST SPOT TO GET STARSTRUCK OVER FURNITURE
Midcentury antique furniture gallery Leftcoast Modern is located in the heart of downtown where movies like Carol, Miles Ahead and The Blunderer used the city’s period architecture as a backdrop in the past year. The vintage shop — along with other area suppliers — offered furniture and props to all three films. Stop by the shop and you won’t find any bargain basement prices — authentic vintage pieces from designers like Herman Miller don’t come cheap — but rather statement pieces worth the investment. Leftcoast Modern, 323 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-288-2364, facebook.com/leftcoastmoderncincinnati.  


Doschers
Jesse Fox
BEST CHILDHOOD FAVORITE CANDIES WITH LOCAL TIES
Believe it or not, two beloved, taffy-esque candies have roots within the Tristate: AirHeads and Doscher’s French Chew. Airheads got their humble beginnings in Erlanger, Ky., in 1986 in the U.S. branch of the candy company Perfetti Van Melle. Doscher’s French Chew started when Claus Doscher, the founder of the confectionary company, got the recipe from France along with several copper kettles to prep the chewy stuff in, and then experimented for years before resulting in the timeless treat. To this day both of the delectable delicacies are still being made locally for everyone to consume. Doscher’s Candies, 24 W. Court St., Downtown, 513-381-8656, frenchchewtaffy.com; AirHeads, 3645 Turfway Road, Erlanger, Ky., 513-283-1234, airheads.com

BEST FLORAL SURPRISE FOR YOUR LIFE PARTNER
Humans are an emotional lot, prone to feeling good on some days and sad on others, the weight of existential despair hovering over us even during the good times. One way to snap out of the more annoying moods we go through is to literally stop and smell the roses and other pretty flowers. Osterbrock Greenhouse & Florist in Winton Place is a super convenient way to grab a fresh bouquet on your way home from work — or during lunch to surprise your life partner when he or she gets home — and the prices are extremely reasonable. You can just tell them you’d like to spend $10 on some purple and yellow stuff, and they’ll take it from there. (Calling ahead is a considerate thing to do, FYI.) Osterbrock also grows its own bedding plants and perrenials, making it a fine place to hit up for spring lawn and garden upgrades. They deliver daily locally for orders placed before noon and they’re open seven days a week. Osterbrock Greenhouse & Florist, 4848 Gray Road, Winton Place, 513-541-4304, osterbrockflorist.com.

BEST WAY TO GET YOUR DOG TO STOP HOWLING AT THE MOON
Maybe howling at the moon isn’t at the top of your list of bad things your best non-human friend does on a regular basis, but you might be surprised how far a little training will go for dogs of all ages and with all sorts of behavioral issues. Mike Dixon at Tri-State Canine Obedience became a certified dog trainer 15 years ago and today offers his own therapy dog training programs ranging from basic puppy training and obedience to off-leash training and behavioral modification. Dixon’s in-home programs also help humans understand that they need to follow the rules too in order to create and maintain a healthy and happy “pack.” Though Tri-State Canine offers various obedience classes like Puppy Kindergarten and Adult Obedience, Dixon’s interest in animal psychology goes well beyond the simplistic notions expounded by the Cesar Millans of the world. Dixon is currently pursuing a degree as an applied animal behaviorist specializing in aggression. Tri-State Canine Obedience, 859-816-5500, tristatecanineobedience.com.


BEST BINGE EATING EXPERIENCE THAT SUPPORTS LOCALS SO YOU DON’T FEEL AS BAD
Numerous reports came out last year revealing that cocoa might be extinct by 2020. Wait, what? Chocolate is a lifestyle. Candy is a food group. Jenco Brothers’ Candy store in Clifton is a wonderland. This modern candy store features more than 400 candies and has original, innovative combinations. A crowd favorite at UC are the chocolate covered pretzels and bacon. Located near campus, Jenco Brothers’ understands the sudden Netflix-induced candy craving a college student experiences. The accessibility is as easy as going in, grabbing a bag, filling it up with your favorite treats and going back to your favorite show. Check out their sweet Instagram @jencobroscandy! Jenco Brothers’ Candy, 224 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-417-8956, jencobrotherscandy.com.

BEST PLACE TO SCORE A LAST-MINUTE BOTTLE OF WINE DOWNTOWN
Those familiar with 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab in Over-the-Rhine know it to be a lovely place to stop in to enjoy a wine flight, tapas-style dining or a legit pourover or specialty coffee drink. But if you’re one of the busybodies who cruises right past the quaint shop on Vine Street, you might not realize that 1215 also offers a retail wine shelf with prices at state minimum. For as little as $8-$10 you can score something about 100 times better than the $6 generic stuff you’ll find at the Vine Street Kroger. Warning: Once you start trying better wines you’re also more likely to start wondering what the $20 and $30 bottles taste like. But that’s what the wine flights are for. 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab, 1215 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-429-5745, 1215vine.com.

BEST LOCAL ALTERNATIVE TO WARBY PARKER
Glasses: two corrective lenses held firmly in place by a frame that sits on your face in front of your eyeballs. They haven’t really changed much since they were invented — that is until Frameri stepped in. Frameri is a local eyewear start-up that is changing the way the world looks at glasses. They’re “glasses for glasses-wearers,” with prescription lenses you can pop in and out of trendy and cost-effective frames. For $100 you can grab a pair of traditional thick black plastic frames, translucent blush frames, some inconspicuous clear frames or all of the above, and then stick your prescription lenses inside for another $100. The lenses and frames are all interchangeable so you can swap them out based on your outfit, occasion or state of mind. Also available in sunglasses. Frameri, 1-844-FRAMERI, frameri.com.


Rock Salt Vintage
Photo: Facebook.com
BEST GEOMETRIC BODY ART
Self-taught jewelry designer Katelin Reeser’s delicately structural Rock Salt Vintage brand has a local cult following. Women love her metal and gemstone pieces that mimic both the natural world and manmade objects. From large hanging crystals on delicate chains, evoking the grounding power of healing stones, to a new collection of metallic rings, bracelets and necklaces bound by bars, balls and lines that imply the stackable decoration of ancient body art with the aesthetic leanings of a sci-fi alien queen, her pieces make a statement without being overpowering — an extension of self. Rock Salt Vintage’s handmade jewelry is carried in boutiques across America and internationally in Amsterdam. Find her locally at Sloane Boutique, Parlour salon and Fern. Rock Salt Vintage, rocksaltvintage.com.


BEST PLACE TO GET MERMAID HAIR
Seapunk is an awesomely weird ’90s-inspired Internet subculture that embraces ocean-related imagery and colors (plus some Hip Hop/House music stuff and a Windows ’95 fetish that is irrelevant for these purposes). IRL seapunks don hair colors dyed chlorine green, seafoam blue, silver grey, lavender and other flavors of an aquatic pastel palette. If you want mermaid hair — real mermaid, not Ariel “what is a fork?” red — head to Parlour in East Walnut Hills. The expert team at the salon applies ammonia-free permanent color from sustainable Italian brand Davines in all shades of Neptunian cotton candy. Parlour, 2600 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, 513-961-4247, salonparlour.com.

BEST BAR YOU WON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT SPENDING TIME INSIDE
Finally, a bar you don’t have to feel bad about stumbling out of. The CycleBar in Rookwood Commons is a premium indoor cyclery spot with all the ingredients of your favorite high-energy bar, minus the alcohol and calories associated with drinking. This upscale fitness venue has state-of-the-art bike equipment and enhanced lighting and sound systems for an intoxicating, multisensory workout experience. Whether you’re a first-time rider or extreme cycling enthusiast, they offer classes for every fitness level. CycleBar, 2713 Edmondson Road, Hyde Park, 513-631-7433, hydepark.cyclebar.com.

BEST PART-TIME HOURS WITH FULL-TIME PASSION 
Owner Edie handpicks all of the assorted vintage knick-knacks and clothing at Edie’s Vintage Rose Room. She frequently greets every single customer who steps in, while providing hugs to some of her regulars. Just tell her what you’re interested in purchasing and she’ll be more than willing to pull pieces out of storage for review, including vintage costume jewelry, clothes, childhood books and perfumes. If the store hours don’t work for you, give Edie a call to arrange a time to come in and she’ll try her best to accommodate. Edie’s Vintage Rose Room, 3241 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, 513-662-3700.