Best Of 2019

Lynne & Lucille artist Kelli Fisher has been “making almost nothings into pretty somethings” since 2013. A transplant from Columbus, Ohio, Fisher specializes in jewelry crafted from the retired gear of local musicians. “I’ve always been a huge fan of music but have never been able to grasp the concept of actually playing it,” she says, “so making jewelry from recycled (and) unusable music materials and instruments is the way I have found to make my own version of music.” Check out her Etsy shop for necklaces and earrings made from shaped guitar strings and polished cymbal segments. She also utilizes hand-tooled leather and, occasionally, remains of the natural world: dig her popular rattlesnake vertebrae hoop earrings and African porcupine quill bar necklace. Lynne & Lucille, etsy.com/shop/lynneandlucille.

The fact that Continuum has held its own on Vine Street in OTR since 2015 is a prime example of the fact that Cincinnati is home to many humans who are interested in innovative, experimental and individual fashion. Shop owner Ericka Leighton is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning with a passion for embracing creativity and creating a space for others to explore their own, whether they’re makers or shoppers. Recently name-checked in Vogue, the shop’s entire vibe — from the neon pink logo to hanging plants and Vaporwave meets Art Nouveau eclecticism — meets the modern woman at the intersection of aspirational and attainable in style, silhouette and price point. Brands range from Paloma Wool and No 6 to Black Crane and Cold Picnic and run the gamut from boxy tops and 1980s jeans to cult mother apparel. Continuum also carries textiles, candles, jewelry, fragrances and artful publications to round out its lifestyle offerings. Continuum, 1407 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/continuumbazaar.

The unmistakable scent of musty old books hits you like a brick wall the moment you set foot in Duttenhofer’s Books, and aesthetically, it’s like the personal library of a Mensa member with a hoarding problem. Tens of thousands of tomes, spanning nearly half a millennium, eclectically fill the space’s snuggly-fit shelves and spill over into various crates strewn about the floor. An impressive catalog of canonized classics, rare first editions and kooky finds — like 1961’s Let’s Have a Party: Gayer Parties with Paperware Decorations and Games — have made this used bookstore a destination for lovers of worn-out paperbacks and hardcovers with missing dust jackets for over 40 years. Amazon may have nearly wiped indie bookstores from public consciousness, but there’s still nothing like spending a lazy afternoon getting lost in a maze of coffee-stained, yellow-paged publications. Duttenhofer’s Books, 214 W. McMillan St., Clifton, duttenhofers.com.

Cory and Krystle Gaiser have a passion for sustainability and, by extension, bees, and operate Gaiser Bee Co. with the primary goal of educating the masses on the importance of the honeybee. Their urban farm is a home not only for bees, but also chickens, peacocks and goats; beginner beekeeping classes on their property — as well as their Host a Hive program — encourage members of the community to join them in their fight to save the bees. If that gets you motivated, nucs (the boxes bees are kept in) and packages of bees, complete with a queen, can be sold to anyone who wishes to make their own colony of pollinators. More everyday purchases such as fresh eggs and beeswax lip balm are also available, and don’t leave without a bottle of their sweet raw honey. Gaiser Bee Co. 3402 Kleeman Road, Monfort Heights, gaiserbeeco.com.

Reser Bicycle Outfitters is a specialty bike shop in Newport that carries everything from road and mountain bikes to electric varieties and even BMX. And if you need something to get yourself amped up before you take to Cincinnati’s streets, Reser is also home to Trailhead Coffee, a craft purveyor serving Wood Burl Coffee and assorted pastries from the likes of Allez Bakery and Marty’s Waffles. Sip a pourover while scouting for bike gear or after dropping off your ride for a tune-up; Reser also does repairs, including major overhauls. It’s an underrated Northern Kentucky gem worth checking out — for both their coffee and their bikes. Reser Bicycle Outfitters, 648 Monmouth St., Newport, reserbicycle.com.

Our beloved Union Terminal is back in action after having been partially closed for more than two years to conduct a $228-million historic restoration. To commemorate the National Historic Landmark’s monumental makeover, Cincinnati Watch Company designed a limited-edition Union Terminal Watch modeled after the building’s iconic exterior 18-foot clock. A portion of every $499 watch — or $524 for the version with a chic mesh-steel wristband — sold will be donated to Union Terminal’s current occupant, the Cincinnati Museum Center. The hand-wound timepiece brilliantly recreates the timeless Art Deco design of its outsized inspiration and features a sapphire crystal face with an appropriately understated color palette of silver and gray. The near-exclusive use of metallic hues across the watch make the vibrant scarlet outlines adorning its hands pop, allowing the wearer to easily tell the time — if that’s what you look for in a watch. Cincinnati Watch Company, cincinnatiwatch.com.

It takes discipline, endurance and patience to thrive in the world of martial arts — the same skills you need to run a small business. So when convenience store owner Reginald Stroud was priced out of his home, business and martial arts studio in Over-the-Rhine in 2015, he was equipped for the mountainous challenge of starting over. Now, Stroud is back. He spends nearly every day behind the counter of Anybody’s Dream, a convenience store in Northside featuring a façade painted by local artist Abby Mae Friend. Not that it was easy. It took Stroud two years to secure his new location. He also had to use his house to teach Jinen-Do — his own mix of martial arts traditions he has perfected over the last four decades. And an annual tournament he holds in Evanston skipped a year after the move as Stroud dealt with his new circumstances. But he’s still standing, still teaching, still selling penny candy, knit caps and essentials like toothpaste in a new neighborhood that needs them.

Sure, Micro Center is a chain with about 25 stores nationwide, but the electronics mega-superstore got its start in Columbus, Ohio in 1979. The “large format” layout, for which the store is known, began in 1982. Located on Mosteller Road in Sharonville, our local Center features free in-store clinics (upcoming events detail smartphones and tablets and wireless networking) and walk-in tech support. If it’s tech related, you can bet they’ll have it — an estimated inventory of over 30,000 items includes everything from the budget-minded student laptop to gizmos, doo-hickeys and interfaces that haven’t been seen since your neighborhood RadioShack liquidated its backroom inventory to sell phones. They are also an authorized Apple dealer and have plenty of refurbished iPhones, iPads and MacBooks on discount. Micro Center, 11755 Mosteller Road, Sharonville, microcenter.com.

Covington’s Handzy Shop + Studio storefront is cuter than a button with its bright yellow door and panoply of adorable papergoods and accessories, so there’s no reason not to visit. But the ladies behind the brand — owners Brittney Braemer and Suzy King — have made it easier than ever to shop local by taking their boutique online. Last year they expanded Handzy to include both new and “second handzy” clothing. The options are playful, bright and patterned and fall right in the brand’s wheelhouse: polka dots tops, colorful overalls and floral prints. They also hand-select vintage and secondhand items to complement the new, which you can buy at the shop or via their Instagram stories. The duo is planning on expanding Handzy and taking over the space next door in late spring, with gifts, stationery and lifestyle accessories on the first floor and a clothing boutique on the second with a mix of new and vintage items. Handzy Shop + Studio, 15 W. Pike St., Covington, handzyshopstudio.com.

Ripping hair out of your body by the root via hot wax is never going to be a comfortable or fun procedure, but the team at Heavenly Bodies makes it as painless as possible. Owner Alesia Buttrey has decades of waxing experience and it shows: Waxes here are fast — like in and out in 15 minutes — complete and compassionate; she and her staff are very aware of sensitive areas and will explain any parts of a wax service you’re worried about. For example, if you’ve never had a full Brazilian and want to try one, Alesia will walk you through the entire process. Or you can watch an educational video on the website. They offer full body waxing, from face to toe, and even options catered to men (chest, back, shoulders, etc.). It’s their 28th year at their cozy East Hyde Park location — more like a house than a strip mall wax place — and online booking services make it easier than ever to be as hair free as you want to be. Heavenly Bodies, 3608 Marburg Ave., Hyde Park, cincyspa.com.

Has a lack of barnyard animals ever prevented you from taking up yoga? If so, say baaahmaste to Yogoat, a local startup that provides at least four baby goats for assorted yoga events. These adorable, well-behaved little livestock may arrive in aww-inducing costumes and will almost certainly climb on top of you in the middle of your cat pose. Yogoat’s trained handlers ensure that everyone present gets ample time with a four-legged yoga partner. There’s never been a better way to get a taste of farm life while practicing a centuries-old stretching routine. Look for Yogoat popping up at breweries like Rivertown and Rhinegeist. You can also book them for birthday parties. Yogoat, facebook.com/yogoatcincinnati.

Chriskindlmarkt is just one of many annual community-minded events organized by the Germania Society of Cincinnati, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting — surprise — German heritage in our region. A recreation of an authentic Bavarian-style Christmas market, local vendors set up shop under heated tents at Germania Park, but it feels more like a festival than a shopping experience. There’s a petting zoo, lantern-lit parade, roaming carolers, booths serving up traditional German food and drink (including glühwein and the society’s famous dill pickle soup), and Santa Claus himself, along with European counterparts like the German Sankt Nikolaus, Krampus (a seasonal half-goat, half-demon of European folklore) and Christkind (a traditional giver of gifts in Germany, who is not a goat or a demon). Germania Society of Cincinnati, 3529 West Kemper Road, Colerain, germaniasociety.com.

It’s important to save money, especially if you can catch a buzz at an altitude of 40,000 feet in the process. As an unprepared consumer, you are at the mercy of the less than benevolent airlines when it comes to onboard refreshments, which means massive inflation. Alcohol is not always a healthy coping mechanism in times of stress, but, say, if you’re on a transcontinental flight, a little nip or two of smuggled bourbon might put you in the right state of mind. If you’re traveling smart, you’ll have stopped at The Party Source on your way to CVG to pick up your favorite liquor, which can be had for a fraction of the price your name-brand airline is charging. The Party Source has an incredible array of 50ml bottles (the same size offered on flights) of any spirits you desire. Larceny can be had for only $2.19, Wild Turkey 101 proof for $3 and, if you really want to save, Jim Beam at $1.39, which would cost $9 on a flight. It’s an airplane, your pilot is the DD. The Party Source, 95 Riviera Drive, Bellevue, thepartysource.com.

If you fail to stock up on booze before you fly, Cork N’ Bottle has set up a nice little 200-square-foot kiosk inside Terminal A at CVG offering various sizes of alcohol bottles to taste and buy. This satellite store sells between 200 and 300 different spirits, 85 percent of which are bourbon and whiskey, with a smattering of vodka for good measure. Serving as a start of sorts for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the bourbon-barrel-lined outpost offers fliers a chance to sip both new and antique bourbon brands — everything from Maker’s Mark to Blanton’s, Weller and Elmer T. Lee — at their tasting station before buying something to bring home or slip inside their carry-on. They even have some old dusties for sale, like a $12,000 bottle of Old Hermitage from 1889 or a $1,500 bottle of Seagram’s “83” from 1929. It’s a quick sip of Kentucky hospitality for visitors and a taste of home before takeoff for locals. CVG, 3087 Terminal Drive, Hebron, cvgairport.com.

Located on Newport’s Monmouth Street and nestled among other independent businesses like Urban Chick Boutique, Jet Age Records, Reser Bicycle, Pepper Pod and La Mexicana, Arcadian Comics & Games has been a vibrant presence in this community for nearly nine years. More than just a comic book shop, it’s a veritable community hub and gathering spot for the artistically inclined that offers a robust selection of graphic novels, collectible figurines, subversive literature and nostalgic curiosities. You’ll find the readily available titles everyone’s buzzing about alongside local and indie titles that are sometimes hard to find elsewhere. The storefront itself was built in the 1860s and received an Art Deco remodel in the 1920s. If these walls could talk, they’d welcome you to join the storyboard. Arcadian Comics & Games, 627 Monmouth St., Newport, arcadiancomics.com.

We see fewer and fewer bookstores — independent and chain — every year and, when a new one does open, it’s likely going to offer a limited selection that occupies little space. Ohio Book Store is like a mecca for bibliophiles, spanning five floors of retail space. It’s easy to get lost among the racks of classic literature and secondhand non-fiction, but if you’re looking for something in particular, you can expect thoughtful and informed guidance from the staff. Walking in, it’d be easy to mistake the first floor as the entire shop since books are on display from floor to ceiling, but the stairs to the basement are your first hint that there’s more than meets the eye. After a little navigation, you’ll find the way leading up three flights of stairs, where it becomes apparent that this bookstore has a massive inventory. Also, keep Ohio Book Store in mind if you ever need to repair a favored book’s binding, a task they’re famous for. This is an essential destination for tourists and deserves all the business our city can offer. Ohio Book Store, 726 Main St., Downtown, ohiobookstore.net.

Market Bleu, held quarterly at the Contemporary Arts Center, is a different approach to the maker pop-up that showcases elevated handmade products and fine arts from local vendors in a museum setting. The more streamlined approach to a modern market focuses on high-quality works from working artists — think an upscale flea with vetted vendors. And the evening hours — the market runs 6-10 p.m. — means it’s a perfect place to pop by before or after dinner or cocktails. The juried show includes some of the city’s top makers and is helmed by the founder of Eliza Dot Design and partners. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, marketbleu.com.

When starting an art project, one never knows what kinds of random materials they’ll need to complete their vision — or how pricey it may become. Indigo Hippo’s staff know this better than anyone, which is why no place caters to Cincinnati’s offbeat artists quite like them. Founded in 2016 by University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning graduate Alisha Budkie, this community-driven art supply store’s inventory consists solely of materials donated by fellow artists and lets the customer decide how much to pay. Ideally, this grants anyone pursuing an artistic passion the means of production to fulfill it, regardless of budget. The store’s charmingly haphazard layout is ever-changing and feels like you’re wandering through a prolific starving artist’s studio apartment; you may find some scraps of wood next to a box of crayons, next to a crate of Snowville Creamery pins, and a random polaroid camera to boot. Indigo Hippo also supports the local art community by participating in Final Friday events with drinks, snacks and artist showcases. Indigo Hippo, 1334 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, indigohippo.org.

Local performance apparel company Jumper jumped on the super-soft undies bandwagon last year by launching a line of cozy modal underwear for men and women… with a twist: Their comfy undergarments were made with bonus Peppermint Tech, featuring fabric infused with all-natural peppermint fiber. According to the Jumper website, “Everybody knows the peppermint leaf is cool and fresh, but this abundant and organic fiber adds strength and natural anti-odor properties to textiles as well.” Boxer briefs and bikinis that stay cool, fresh and “action ready?” Sign us up. Jumper spent 18 months designing, sourcing and custom milling the anti-microbial undies and pre-orders went live on Kickstarter in July 2018. The company, founded by former Army Ranger and paratrooper Daniel Redlinger and outdoor apparel designer Andrew Mallett, specializes in functional and fashionable outer apparel. And now functional and fashionable under apparel. Jumper Threads, jumperthreads.com.

Parlour salon in East Walnut Hills specializes in creative cuts and color, bringing aspirational runway looks to the sidewalks of Cincinnati. Award-winning colorists can achieve everything from natural balayage blondes to neon-yellow art-Punk pixies — and anything in between — with the finesse of highly trained painter. Whether you want to step out of your comfort zone or hold onto your Type A personality for “just a trim,” you’re in the best hands in the city with this team of hip, professional stylists. If you do hand over creative control, the results are worth it. The team at Parlour can create a cutting-edge look that fits your style, whether that means a sculptural blunt bob, Mia Farrow-mini or modern shag. Using eco-friendly (and delicious-smelling) Davines products — including color — your hair will feel as good as it looks. And each service comes with a complimentary artisan cocktail, if you need that push to try something new. Parlour, 2600 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, salonparlour.com.