Best Of 2020

So you want to update your bathroom tile or add a new kitchen backsplash, but you’re looking for something that feels more unique than the ceramics you can find at the big box stores. Head to Mees Distributors at the edge of Northside. This tile shop has been around since the 1930s and the 10,000-foot public showroom has an almost overwhelming selection of tile to peruse at every price point and style, from subway tiles and colored marble to quarry tiles and brightly patterned cement. There are shiny tiles, Tuscan-look tiles, muted pink tiles, tiles with little fruit designs on them; honestly, any kind of tile you can imagine, they have it. And they also have humans who can help you. If you have your project specs, Mees can provide guidance regarding specific products as well as grout color, layout and more. They also have a list of professional tile installers they work with or can recommend if you’re completely lost. You can also sometimes find a cat sleeping at the check-out counter (behind which there is an impressive collection of mounted fish and sports trophies). Mees Distributors, 1541 West Fork Road, Northside,

Shops & Services
Illustration: Taylor Speed

2. Tiny Needle Community Acupuncture

3. Hamilton Health Associates          

2. Dusty Flynt Sexy Gifts                    

3. High on the Hill

So, you qualified for medical marijuana in Ohio: Great, and sorry for what ails ya’. Ohio law currently allows those with certain medical conditions (cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, PTSD, chronic pain and many more) to sign up as a patient, after being approved by a licensed physician, with the Ohio Medical Marijuana Registry and Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Your physician will approve you to use a 90-day supply of certain forms of marijuana for your specific condition — oils, tinctures, edibles, vapes. And once you’re approved, you have to go to a licensed dispensary to purchase your medication. There are only a few in the Cincinnati area: Verilife, kind of by Pleasant Ridge; Have a Heart Cincy, co-founded by Rev. Damon Lynch III and located in Hartwell, which is the only dispensary to open so far technically within city limits; and Verdant Creations in Columbia Township, kind of by Target and across from the original little MadTree taproom. (There’s also About Wellness Ohio in Lebanon.) But Verdant Creations seems to be a card-carrying favorite because it has affordable price points and offers frequent discounts. After checking in with your medical marijuana card and ID, you’ll head to the Verdant Creations waiting room to peruse a menu of the current offerings. The menu is divided by form (edible, flower, tincture, etc.) as well as brand and strain (indica, sativa). And if you have no idea what any of that means, the helpful “budtenders” will teach you about the different applications as they relate to your specific ailment, especially if you weren’t or haven’t been a big pot smoker/vaper/eater/tincture-er up until his point. Note: These budtenders aren’t pharmacists, they just know a lot about pot. (They’re also very helpful if you’re confused about what constitutes a “90-day supply” limit.) After you make your selection, it’s filled in a back room and delivered through a window with a prescription label and sealed in a bag with a staple. You have to pay in cash (they have an ATM) or some weird digital payment. But it doesn’t really matter, because prices here are reasonable. And they usually have sales, special deals and promotions. Like they offered 29 percent off their entire inventory on Leap Day (there was a line out the door and an hours-long wait). Sign up for text alerts for discount notifications. Verdant Creations, 5149 Kennedy Ave., Columbia Township,

2. Florence Antique Mall                  

3. Wooden Nickel Antiques   

2. Clifton Cultural Arts Center

3. Brazee Street Studios        

2. Michaels                

3. Cappel’s     

2. Beechmont Subaru            

3. Walt Sweeney Ford

2. Courtesy Automotive                     

3. Joseph Toyota of Cincinnati

2. CarZmedics            

3. Carriage House Car Wash  

2. Tire Discounters                

3. AAA | Bob Sumerel Tire and Service

2. Sharonville Car Wash & Detailing

3. AAA Auto Wash     

2. Chase                     

3. Fifth Third Bank

2. Gil’s Barber Shop               

3. Clifton Barbers

2. The Clifton House Bed and Breakfast

3. Gaslight Bed & Breakfast (TIE)     

3. Murphin Ridge Inn (TIE)    

2. Reser Bicycle Outfitters                

3. BioWheels             

2. The Christ Hospital           

3. St. Elizabeth Healthcare    

2. Half Price Books                

3. Barnes & Noble

2. The Friends’ Used Book Store at the Warehouse

3. Blue Marble Books            

4. Shake It Records                

5. Ohio Book Store                 

6. Roebling Point Books & Coffee      

7. Up Up & Away                   

8. DuBois Book Store             

9. Homestead Used Books (TIE)        

9. Iris Bookcafe (TIE)

10. Cincy Book Bus    

After 25 years of teaching in various schools across the country, Melanie Moore rerouted her career to focus on inspiring a passion for reading by delivering the joy of books to cafés, flea markets and nonprofit events all from the bed of a vintage blue Volkswagen pickup truck. The Cincy Book Bus offers a unique, beautifully bound selection of reads along with a personable book-buying experience in a time where the internet offers instant gratification and two-day delivery. Moore and her husband, Tony, originally bought the truck from a cherry farm in Colorado and picked it up with cherry pits and juice stains still in the bed. It’s a manual and a little rickety, so Moore leaves the driving to Tony, who has an affinity for vintage vehicles. He’s happy to show off the book-mobile by welcoming customers into the driver’s seat or snapping photos of them with their newly purchased books in front of the bus. On days she’s not popping up at cafés and markets, she’s pulling into yard sales and shuffling through cardboard boxes or meticulously scanning each shelf in any store that sells books. She won’t pick up just anything — they’ve got to be unique and in good shape to make the cut. Though she stepped out of the education system several years ago, she still stays involved, helping schools in the area stock their libraries and participating in community literacy programs. Cincy Book Bus,