Best of the Twin Cities®

Best Of 2013

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Bookstore (Used)
Booksmart

If you're anything like us, you were probably alarmed last summer when you realized that the old space for Booksmart in Uptown was, well, no longer Booksmart. One more casualty in the ever-growing armada of bro bars and corporate storefronts, right? Well, fortunately, if you're anything like us, you were probably also relieved when you realized that Booksmart had simply changed locations — and what's more, they'd joined forces with Cheapo to form some sort of used goods mega-monster. Taking up the space that used to house those glorious rows and rows of old vinyl (the basement of Cheapo), this used-books holdout managed to reinvent itself without compromising its product. Booksmart still maintains a collection of fiction, history, mysteries, and Lord knows whatever oddities that could keep you distracted for hours. At a time when there's ever less room for the brick-and-mortar used bookstores, it felt like a minor miracle.

1300 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, 55408
MAP
612-823-5612
Best Clothing Store (Women)
Opitz Outlet

What used to be a well-kept secret among couture coveters in the Twin Cities has now become one of the metro's hottest spots to score designer goods: Opitz Outlet. Where else besides a consignment shop can you find a Marc Jacobs sweater for 90 percent off? Opitz has it all, from Prada and Gucci to Anna Sui and Jimmy Choo, for a fraction of the prices you'll find at department stores. While there are a few catches (some of the items are overstocked mall rejects, others have minor flaws, and both staff and clientele tend to be constantly frazzled), the amazing finds at this store are worth every discounted penny. Seriously, we've scored some incredible stuff for a dollar thanks to Opitz's mega sales. In the past year, the store has expanded from its two-building St. Louis Park space and added another in Minnetonka. Thankfully, the new location isn't nearly as cramped as the others and has a monthly flea market with tons of home goods at ridiculously discounted prices. So what if a few strings are out of place on that McQueen top? Take this opportunity to fine-tune your sewing skills and show off your handiwork to the world. Don't worry, we won't tell anyone what you paid.

4320 Excelsior Blvd., Minneapolis, 55416
MAP
952-929-8715
Best Acupuncture

Skeptics, wise up: If you've spent countless frustrating hours and who knows how much money trying to treat your anxiety or insomnia, your acne, indigestion, migraines, or that pain in your neck by visiting doctors of all stripes, perhaps it's time to put down your insurance directory or stop popping pills and instead think about channeling your qi. Acupuncture has been shown to treat a number of common ailments: skin problems, digestive complaints, pain, allergies, sleep problems — you name it — while also helping to encourage healing, support your immune system, and balance your mood. Attune Acupuncture is the go-to spot for a first-timer. Practitioner Sarah Larson's gentle, calming, and comforting demeanor can put even the most needle-phobic or Western-oriented patient at ease. Acupuncture devotees will no doubt appreciate her empathetic and helpful demeanor and her breadth of knowledge. She checks in on all aspects of her patients' health and carefully considers holistic approaches through acupuncture, plus herbal and dietary consultations. After 30 minutes relaxing in her office, you'll feel on top of the world. When's the last time you felt that way leaving your doctor's waiting room?

4749 Chicago Avenue S., Minneapolis, 55407
MAP
952-994-2828
Best Body Supplies

Parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate — these chemicals are linked to a host of health problems, from skin irritation to hormone imbalances, and they're all ingredients you might find hidden in many of your body and beauty products. To add insult to injury, most of these same products are tested on animals, a cruelty intended to discover just how many of these toxins our bodies can withstand. That's the bad news. The good news is that many retailers are now offering organic, nontoxic, environmentally and body-friendly products that you can trust. Plant-based personal care and aromatherapy pioneer and environmentalist Horst Rechelbacher founded Aveda Corporation in 1978, and after selling that company founded Intelligent Nutrients, a Minneapolis-based business that focuses on providing 100 percent food-based, safe, nontoxic, organic beauty products. While he's taken all that bad stuff out, he's put a lot of good stuff in. He develops the product line from his Wisconsin organic farm, and as a result, the natural ingredients claim benefits ranging from antioxidant, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties to oils that can elevate or calm your mood. After a time spent operating out of a space in northeast Minneapolis, Intelligent Nutrients opened its first flagship store at the Mall of America last fall, which in addition to the product line offers biofeedback stress testing, skin and hair analysis, an in-store salon, and an aroma oxygen bar.

60 E. Broadway, Bloomington, 55425
MAP
952-567-1324
Best Antiquing

From Anoka to Stillwater to Red Wing, our region is not wanting for antiques hubs. But for those looking to dig for treasure a little closer to home, the surprisingly charming downtown Hopkins has its own historic Mainstreet, which has also bred a collection of antiques shops. And with more than 200 dealers gathered in a handful of roomy storefronts, the Hopkins Antique Shops Association has organized events like the spring Hopkins Antique Days and an autumn Hopkins Antique Stroll, hoping to draw shoppers to the area. But no need to wait for a big event to visit. With collections that lean toward home and kitchen wares, toys, jewelry, kitsch, and just a bit of furniture, there's always plenty to browse, and the friendly shopkeepers are always ready with a hot pot of coffee, plate of cookies, and a smile ... and, of course, an eagerness to help pile your arms full of goodies, and a cheery wave as you haul it all out to your car.

Between 5th and 7th Avenues N., Hopkins, 55343
MAP
Best Art Supplies

Walk into Art Materials on Lyndale and you'll sense a creative energy that hangs in the air. Maybe it's the 12,000 square feet of supplies, or maybe it's the staff who will go out of their way to make sure you've got just the right tool for your project. Of course, the store boasts all the traditional mediums from clay and paint to tile and pencils, but it's also got specialized fountain pens and drawing utensils that will enamor even the most expert illustrators and calligraphers. Don't forget to peek at the enormous selection of beautiful handmade paper with dried flowers, curlicued natural fibers, and opalescent finishes fit for wedding invitations or friendly letters. With two locations in Minneapolis and a great online shop, they make it easy to find everything you need for your next big masterpiece. Once you visit Art Materials, you'll realize there's a reason this place has been around for more than 50 years.

2728 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 55408
MAP
612-872-8088
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Best Bookstore (Used): Booksmart

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