Best Of 2022

1. Smith & Metz Painting

2. Hyde Park Painting & Carpentry

3. Steady Hand Painting

Shops & Services

Shops & Services
Here are the 2022 Best Of Cincinnati® Reader and Staff Pick winners for Shops & Services.

1. Fern (Walnut Hills)

2. Creative House of Art & Design

3. The Daily Vintage

Cincy Shirts
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Cincy Shirts

1. Cincy Shirts

2. BlaCk OWned Outerwear

3. The Native Brand

4. Kentucky Botanical Co.

5. Kismet

6. Rose & Remington

7. Homage

8. MiCA 12/v

9. Queen City Alchemy

10. Fleurish Home

Hierophany & Hedge
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Hierophany & Hedge

Do you believe in magic? There are so many ways to interpret what is and isn’t magical, so perhaps some thorough studying is needed before you can make that call. Hierophany & Hedge, Covington’s newest magic shop, is the place to learn about the mystical, the ethereal and the conjured. This isn’t the kind of shop where your common birthday-party street magician would buy their gags, but rather an apothecary and library, an entryway to fantastic realms. Whether you want to buy your own custom handmade wand, of which they have many, learn more about tarot cards or just get some incense, there are plenty of reasons to stop in and browse the magical wares. hierophanyandhedge.com.

Waking up early on a Monday — or, let’s be real, any day — can be a slog, but a tantalizing scent waiting in the bathroom means we’re less apt to pull the covers back over our head. That’s where &Sundries comes in. The East Walnut Hills shop founded by University of Cincinnati grad John Meyer is full of handmade, chemical-free body washes, lotions and potions that appeal to noses and skin types of every persuasion. Honey apple? Check. Lavender? Check. Cedar pepper? Check. But for our money, the star of the show is the peppermint body lotion, with a freshness that tingles the nose and a very subtle note of neroli oil (bitter orange tree blossom) that brings on a double-take. Apply it in the morning and sport &Sundries’ Turkish cotton robe while enjoying your morning coffee, and Mondays stop looking so bad. andsundries.com.

Come for the records, stay for everything else. Clifton’s Torn Light Records is a music store first and foremost, but its eclectic collection of pulp sci-fi novels, Japanese horror VHS tapes and bootleg Ghanaian movie posters is an invaluable resource for underground heads. That’s not to discount their music taste, though. From Hardcore Punk to Free Jazz to Grindcore, Torn Light’s shelves stock offerings from all extremes of under-the-radar music. You’re sure to leave with an album you never knew you needed — or even existed, for that matter. tornlightrecords.com.

Chuck Hellman of Hellman Clothiers in Carew Tower is known for his prowess when it comes to dressing local and national sports stars, including members of the Bengals for their Super Bowl appearance in Los Angeles. But his bigger audience is somewhere else. Currently, Hellman Retail Group’s TikTok, run by social media editor Christian Barker, has more than 4 million followers. At least once a week, the account posts a video of a suit inspired by various themes, and Hellman says he has a large international audience who waits with bated breath to see what he’ll come out with. Almost every video is in response to a comment requesting a specific theme. His audience loves video games and anime — with 24 million views of his Naruto suit and a shocking 38 million of his Rick and Morty design. Hellman says he wants the outfits to evoke what he imagines the characters would wear. For example, his Harry Potter suit is designed with a fitted navy jacket, Gryffindor-colored striped tie, Marauder’s Map pocket square and snitch pin. Other recent posts show a purple Willy Wonka-style suit, with a sparkly golden bow tie and top hat, and a Darth Vader suit complete with helmet, lightsaber pin and Star Wars-inspired tie. “We follow what the audience wants,” Hellman says. hellmanretailgroup.com.

Swing House
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Swing House

The Swing House is a whole-building art project — a freestanding 1880s three-story brick home in Camp Washington where owner and artist Mark DeJong has removed the interior walls and upper floors and built a swing right in the middle of the opened-up interior. Made from pine he salvaged from third-floor joists, the swing is attached by 30 feet of natural-fiber rope to a metal beam on the ceiling. There are several ways to visit the stunning space: DeJong hosts an open house for guests to experience the Swing House on the second Saturday of every month, and if you’re interested in spending the night at the home, there is a listing available on Airbnb. swing-house.com.

Need an old door? Or a used washer and dryer? Are you dying for an OG all-metal kitchen suite? You’re likely to find this and more at Building Value. With show-stopping salvages like a wooden bird cage big enough to house a toddler and a collection of vintage fireplace mantles, Building Value offers so much to look at. And, for the love of Gaud(iness), go out the back door to the bathroom fixture graveyard. If you buy the periwinkle sink, tub and toilet please @ us. buildingvalue.org.

Flohemian Floral Design, located in Dayton, Kentucky, is a relatively new florist to the Greater Cincinnati area. The business opened only a couple years ago, and since then has proven to be an obvious choice for those looking for unique and trendy bouquets. Flohemian’s social media is filled with magnificent arrangements that offer a carefree aesthetic — which the shop dubs “free spirit floral creations” — for everything from weddings to beautiful vases. Non-event ordering options start at $30 for single-bloom bouquets, with seasonal options between $50 and $75. With advance notice, the florist can also create custom “bloom wraps” with specific colors. flohemianfloral.com.

Roebling Point Books & Coffee's Newport location
Photo: Katie Griffith
Roebling Point Books & Coffee's Newport location

Several years ago, Covington’s only bookstore and coffee shop almost closed for good. The decade-old store — cherished by locals and visitors alike — was threatened by a significant rent increase, constant construction and closure of its main thoroughfare, the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge. Luckily for Roebling Point Books & Coffee, high market rates and constant development surrounding the area were no match for the shop’s popularity and beloved neighborhood status. Owner Richard Hunt struck a deal with the landlord, who saw the value in keeping the establishment open, and they came to an agreement on rent. So Hunt’s original search for a new location ended up becoming the search for a second location. After options rolled in, he made a final decision to open the second Roebling Point Books & Coffee in Newport. Much from the flagship shop was duplicated in Newport, including offering space for community meetings as well as coffee and Lil’s Bagels. This new shop features a grand fiction section and rare and antiquated books. Hunt and customers are happy with the expansion. “A city needs a bookstore like a body needs a soul,” Hunt tells CityBeat. roeblingpointbooksandcoffee.com.

District 78 specializes in housemade soy wax candles, scented with a blend of fragrance oils, that are phthalate free, paraben free and 100% vegan. Owner Erikka Gray crafts unique, luxurious scents for shoppers (and also companies in search of some fragrant branding), like Velvet, a smoky blend of vanilla and cedarwood, or The Baldwin, named after poet and writer James Baldwin and featuring notes of leather, saffron and sandalwood. Don’t know which candle to pick? District 78 offers three-candle sets, including a customer-favorite package with best sellers and a trio curated by Gray herself. To complement your candle, snag a new houseplant. The shop carries different sized pothos, snake plants, cacti, philodendron and more, plus cute gardening-themed T-shirts and bags. bydistrict78.com.

Grab your favorite tote bag (or two) and head to the Covington Farmers Market to stock up on seasonal produce, baked goods, bread, wine, honey, meats, eggs, jams, pickles and more from local vendors. The year-round market is open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The location changes depending on the season, so check the website for updates. And, yes, you definitely should buy yourself a bouquet of freshly cut flowers on your way out. rcov.org/covfarmersmarket.

We get it. You run on coffee. Same. And College Hill Coffee Co. certainly offers up some delicious coffee (if only they had a drive-thru!). However, the coffee (and scrumptious food) isn’t even the best part of CHCC. The cafe is packed to the brim with local yumminess (Sixteen Bricks bread, for instance) and a giant selection of unique gifts you won’t find in many other places. The shop carries all the best Charley Harper merchandise, and has a solid collection of glass sun-catcher orbs that just make everything a little more whimsical. collegehillcoffeeco.com.

Descend to the basement of Northside’s Shake It Records, and you just might stumble upon one of Cincinnati’s coolest assortments of independently published comics. There’s not much in the way of Marvel and DC, but if introspective graphic novels, photocopied zines or X-rated underground comix pique your interest, there’s a treasure trove of pulpy oddities to peruse. If you prefer your books with fewer pictures, Shake It has plenty of novels, too, alongside a massive array of band T-shirts and collectible toys, to boot. shakeitrecords.com.

Sometimes you need a night away. And sometimes you just don’t feel like making the effort to go “out of town.” Maybe try AC Hotel in Liberty Center? This posh but attainably priced stay sits atop the back end of Liberty’s outdoor shopping mall. The mall’s DORA district offers a wide range of delicious restaurants, one of those fancy-AF theaters with reclining seats and tons of shopping. Most importantly, though, AC has a very nice second-floor pool and indoor-outdoor hot tub. Ever sat in a steaming hot tub while the snow falls around you? It’s baller, y’all. And you don’t have to drive all the way to the Pigeon Forge to find it. marriott.com.

Garden Grove Organics
Photo: Provided by Garden Grove Organics
Garden Grove Organics

“Feed me, Seymour!” Joshua Stout’s colorful Little Shop of Horrors-inspired mural is hard to miss on the side of Covington’s Garden Grove Organics. The spray-painted piece features everyone’s favorite bloodthirsty plant-alien, Audrey II, grinning — presumably post-suppertime. Take in the mural, but don’t take it as a sign to adopt any demanding, vampiric plants. Garden Grove Organics is housed in a renovated former Mexican restaurant in Roebling Point and boasts everything you need to grow your plants at home, from lights and reflective film to soil amenders and hydroponic systems. If you aren’t ready to dive that far in, Garden Grove has a selection of what owner Alex Fraser calls “hard-to-find house plants.” The shop also hosts free classes. gardengroveorganics.com.

Hey, boomer, remember late fees? “Be kind, rewind?” Does any of that ring a bell? Thanks largely to streaming services like Netflix, the once-mighty video rental shop went belly up. Now that we’ve had enough time to process and appropriately mourn its loss, we can try to recapture the joy we used to feel when we’d select actual physical media to consume from Blockbuster. This is thanks to Free Blockbuster, a social experiment that provides totally free movies and video games in old newspaper boxes — the same kind from which you likely picked up this issue of CityBeat — repainted to match the iconic blue-and-yellow Blockbuster branding. Our area’s three Free Blockbuster locations are occasionally restocked but rely on the common folk to continually bring the good stuff to share — who doesn’t still have all their old tapes from yesteryear? Instead of donating to thrift shops, why not bring those movies to your local Free Blockbuster? instagram.com/freeblockbustercincinnati.

After Susannah Tisue graduated from Walnut Hills High School, she learned about ceramic arts at New York University. For years she and her husband Michael Miritello, a woodworker, had a studio in Brooklyn where she fulfilled orders from stores across the country for her beautiful glazed ceramic bowls, plates, pitchers, vases, mugs and more, decorated with delicate wild animal illustrations. But an opportunity for an affordable workplace in Cincinnati brought her back to town. While her now-open space, the 1910 Century Theater building on Gilbert Avenue near Peebles Corner in Walnut Hills, was being developed, she launched a kiosk for SKT Ceramics at Findlay Market in 2017; it continues to be a popular stop. Now her “illustrated pottery” is produced by her creative team in the renovated gallery-studio while Miritello builds furniture and cabinetry upstairs. It’s a boomerang with a happy ending. sktceramics.com.

If you were to create a shop that is basically catnip to millennials and Gen-Z-ers, it would be Newport’s headquarters for Fleurish Grounds and Flow coffee. Fleurish Grounds started out as a pop-up in co-owner Christine Funke’s garage before it turned into a popular brick-and-mortar storefront in Madisonville. Funke closed that shop last year and moved over to Newport where Fleurish is offering its same patented blend of plants, pots and curated vintage clothing — with a bonus. Shoppers browsing for their next favorite snake plant can now also grab a pour-over or draft kombucha from Flow. Fleurish even has its own specialty blend of coffee from local roasters Urbana Cafe. fleurishgrounds.com; facebook.com/flowfuturecoffee.