Shopping & Services

  • BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE

    It's a bit on the pricey side ($4.28 per video for two days, tax included, $50 deposit), but Sex World is open 24-7, a real value if you just must have "the only legal version" of Pam and Tommy Lee's home video at 2 a.m. on a Thursday. Respectful service and a huge selections of gay, S&M, and amateur videos… More >>
  • BEST ART SUPPLY STORE

    It's the claustrophobic atmosphere of this well-stocked supply shop that draws us back to the West Bank again and again. Towering shelves of handmade papers and the scent of acrylics and oils surround us as we wander in search of pastels, pencils, pressboard, and pushpins. Compared to other local supply shops, the Artery's pricing is moderate and the backroom frame… More >>
  • BEST BABY GOODS STORE

    Truth be told, you can't really knock the baby superstores. They were inevitable, for one thing--sooner or later warehouse shopping was bound to trickle down to the maternity-and-toddler set. But especially in this day and age, there's something to be said for the personal, homey touch. And you can't get much more personal and homey than Baby Grand, which makes… More >>
  • BEST BARBER SHOP

    Lately we've noticed a few copies of Details and Vibe showing up among the Playboys and National Geographics in the tiny waiting area of Lauren Coleman's barber shop, but otherwise very little has changed in the 35 years he's been a fixture at the bustling and continually evolving intersection of Lake and Lyndale. Keep in mind, though: Lauren's a barber… More >>
  • BEST BIKE SHOP

    We're not wild about all Schwinn cycles, but the high-end models--and the GT and Gary Fisher lines also stocked by this Macalester-neighborhood shop--make it worth the trip to the corner of Snelling and Selby. Serious cyclists and beginning pedalers alike pack the inventory-stuffed shop, scanning its small but thorough selection of helmets, accessories, kiddie carts, and repair tools. Even bargain… More >>
  • BEST BODY PIERCING

    This is a lot like recommending a gynecologist: While you may feel comfortable exposing yourself to a certain doctor, another person will swear that he gives her the heebie-jeebies. So let's toss subjective considerations aside in favor of the three C's--cleanliness, competence, and courteousness. The Ink Lab, already renowned for its exquisite tattoo artistry, warrants a heads up on all… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE FOR NEW BOOKS

    In recent years, this store has been nearly overshadowed by its reputation--as a book review, a dining spot, and an independent bastion against corporate encroachment. That this little empire was built on a plainly great bookstore can almost slip the mind. So let's acknowledge the obvious: Hungry Mind continues to bring an intimate and unparalleled knowledge of books to its… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE FOR USED BOOKS

    The quintessential used bookstore should look as slightly dog-eared and as gently used as its inventory. Every square foot of wall space should be filled with a bookshelf, and if the shelves become too full, the books themselves should begin to determine the store's layout. The mismatched carpet remnants should reveal well-worn wood floors and chipping multicolored 1940s tile. The… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE FOR NEW CDS

    Advice to Fetus shoppers: When you go in, don't think, just grab--everything that looks good. Don't even think about the expense until you get into your car. The selection is outstanding in every genre; the jazz and world-music shelves may very well be the best in the Midwest. Last time we dropped by to trod the Fetus's ancient hardwood floors… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE FOR USED CDS

    This fixture in the starving-music-nut scene has grown to six local outlets, but the Lake Street location has it running away for sheer selection. Sure, the walls are lined with posters of unmentionable Euro-acts and the floor is in drastic need of recarpeting, but they have more titles than the New York Islanders. Not only do they offer thousands of… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP 'DO

    Yes, some of the cosmetologists-in-training look like they just stepped out of a French film, but these waifs are supervised by some of the best in the business: This is, after all, the former training center for the notoriously persnickety Horst Salons, and it remains part of the Horst-founded Aveda empire. Nothing but pure flower and herbal essences here--even the… More >>
  • BEST CHILDREN'S BOOKSTORE

    There's a miniature door-within-a-door at the front entrance of Wild Rumpus, a portal for children that immediately establishes the priorities of this charming Linden Hills book nook. Inside, cats lounge on the overstuffed furniture while parakeets and doves coo in their cages. Papier-mâché bats and fake cobwebs hang from the ceiling of the child-sized house at the back of the… More >>
  • BEST CIGAR SHOP / TOBACCONIST

    A downtown fixture since 1949, Lewis Pipe & Tobacco (known for years simply as The Smoke Shop) is a habit-forming spot for puffers of every stripe. College kids on their way to a downtown dive will stop in for a pack of Luckies; hotshot lawyers will swing by for the fine cigars used to celebrate settlements; and part-time academics will… More >>
  • BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP

    Whether you are in search of a comic as a momentary escape or as a collector's item, DreamHaven has a title for every interest and sensibility. If your tastes run retro, they have racks of EC's weird and creepy tales and the altered reality of underground comics à la The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Mayhem can be had with Todd… More >>
  • BEST COMPUTER REPAIR SERVICE

    Under their skinny black ties, inside their cartoon cars, and behind their honest-to-God badges, these "special agents" hide some serious technological talent. These are the guys you call when anything from your 50-terminal office network to your lone pre-Pentium Gateway crashes. They'll come to you (probably in a vintage car bearing their red and black logo) or you can deliver… More >>
  • BEST COMPUTER STORE

    For most people, "best computer store" is probably an oxymoron. How else to explain the spectacular popularity of mail-order operations like Gateway 2000? If it's not the scattershot inventory of some superstore dabbling in "personal electronics" that drives you to the catalogs, it's the discomfort of a carpeted showroom policed by some tanning-booth habitué in a bad tie. Uptown's First… More >>
  • BEST ELECTRONICS (AUDIOPHILE)

    DTS, AC-3, DVD, DSS, D-VHS--in the age of digital A/V, this classy playroom's paid perfectionists will help you sort out the many acronyms. The store's elegant pair of listening rooms house the very latest technology--which, at the peak of the high end, is actually old technology (e.g., tubes and turntables) refined for the millennium. And while this back-to-the-golden-era hardware doesn't… More >>
  • BEST ELECTRONICS (PROLETARIAN)

    These days the prole's A/V outlet of choice might well be a 1-800 mail-order company found in the back pages of Stereo Review et al. But as a place to see and hear your affordable fetish object before bringing it home, Best Buy is tough to beat, and the cavernous flagship store off I-494 and Lyndale is well worth the… More >>
  • BEST FLORIST

    Not many people understand the power of a delphinium. A trailing spike of blue as deep as the Pacific with highlights the color of a July morning, the flower would be easy to drown in a mixed bouquet. But what if, instead, you were to display a single one of the nodding clusters amid pearly white statice, filigree baby's breath,… More >>
  • BEST GREETING CARD SHOP

    Done correctly, a greeting card can carry the punch of a David Letterman one-liner. Unfortunately, most cards are written for people who find "knock-knock" jokes hysterical, or, at a minimum, have difficulty discerning an honest emotion from a purchased one. But somehow, the buyer at dooDah has uncovered a cache of greeting-card writers capable of eliciting laughs from even the… More >>
  • BEST HARDWARE STORE

    Although it's a crying shame that this store replaced what was once the best out-of-the-way bowling alley in South Minneapolis, Nicollet Ace fills a need in its own way. Sure, you can't knock down the pins and slam down the brews, but you'll literally get more bang for your buck with a pound of nails. There's plenty of parking (amazing,… More >>
  • BEST HIV TESTING

    A local legend in the fight against sexually transmitted disease, the Red Door is discreet, professional, and caring. All they want from you, in addition to a bit of blood, is a $10 donation. Counseling is available as well, along with an early intervention program--which includes blood workups and doctor referrals--for those who test positive. The clinic, which is funded… More >>
  • BEST HOBBY SHOP

    Inner child need nurturing? Forget the therapist: Try National Hobby. Here are the radio-controlled cars you can design and drive yourself; the kits from which to build commercial airliners and Tomcat fighters that really fly; the three-stage model rockets that let you become a NASA astronaut like you always wanted. For those who require education with their recreation, the store… More >>
  • BEST JEWELER

    Get on Lyndale Avenue and go south. Now keep going until you're almost positive you're lost. Just before you resolve to turn around, a small black-and-white sign with a diamond-like emblem will direct you into the parking lot of a building that looks more like a well-designed house than a set of shops. The relative seclusion and security of its… More >>
  • BEST KITSCH PALACE

    Collectors, look no further. Within the walls of 15 Minutes sit toys and games and curios of all eras and all degrees of taste--from the occasional Nightmare Before Christmas figurine to something as banal as a Jolly Green Giant jigsaw puzzle. The obsessiveness of collecting has no fuller manifestation than 15 Minutes, a space in which wares are wedged and… More >>
  • BEST LINGERIE

    Lingerie stores in the Twin Cities seem to be divided into two groups: those that sell titillating threads of leather and latex and those that offer dreamy concoctions of satin and lace. Someone could make a lot of money combining those two styles--plus the cotton-bra rack at Target--into one operation, run by and for women who cherish both real life… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER

    A high-tech company you can call on an old-fashioned voice line and actually get help--need we say more? Vector's tech people are more than happy to give advice on avoiding e-mail spam, putting your own Web page on the Internet, and fixing your browser's nasty habit of chewing up files. For the full-time geek, Vector offers one of the largest… More >>
  • BEST NEWSSTAND

    The Holy Grail of ink-stained wretches throughout the city, the Hennepin Shinder's in downtown Minneapolis continues to fight the good fight against the online info revolution. With some 2,800 titles in stock (not counting comics and soft-core adult fare), you can find magazines devoted to most any quirk, perversion, and political viewpoint known to humanity, with publications devoted to subjects… More >>
  • BEST NOVELTY STORE

    This is the kind of store you wish had been around when you were a kid. It carries everything from miniature plastic trolls to rubber-chicken key chains to Speed Racer stickers and Elvis lamps (a ceramic bust of the King is crowned by a two-toned lampshade)--not to mention all the stuff you remember, but haven't seen since grade school. Those… More >>
  • BEST NURSERY (TAME)

    Sure, you'll get your tomato seedlings here, and your petunias, even your mixed gladiolus bulbs. But Bachman's real forte is steering gardeners to the higher reaches of horticulture simply by showing us what's possible. Need to spice up that drab hosta patch by the walk? Chartreuse-and-gold "Frances Williams" practically winks at you from the shelf. Fell in love with the… More >>
  • BEST NURSERY (WILD)

    Let's not exaggerate: It's not as if planting wildflowers is some kind of botanical redemption that would cause prairies to spring from parking lots and entice buffalo herds to the strip malls. But there's something irresistible about a bit of prairie (or, if you have some of those great big elms, woodland shade flora) in the backyard--especially once the birds… More >>
  • BEST PAWNSHOP

    Think of pawnshops as America's collective garage sale--with one important difference: Here, most of the merchandise is actually useful. While Metro Pawn is smaller than many of the now-ubiquitous franchises, it's packed floor to ceiling with brand-name goodies. In addition to a selection of TVs, VCRs, and bookshelf audio systems, this shop has a good assortment of acoustic and electric… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RENT FOREIGN VIDEOS

    Or should we say "Best Place to Rent Foreign Films"? Literally defined, "foreign videos" would refer to tapes imported from abroad and then converted to the U.S. video standard, the business of which is both risky for the merchant and essential to the connoisseur. But since last year's winner, the literally named Intercontinental Video, had its wrist slapped recently by… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SATISFY YOUR JAPANESE CULTURE JONES

    Inside the squat temple of banality that is the Mall of America lies one guilty pleasure, made possible not by resisting consumerism, but by perfecting it: the Sanrio Gift Gate. Asian teenage girls and white twentysomething fashion victims wander among familiar icons, from the rosy-cheeked frog Keroppi to the perennially scowling penguin Bad Batzs-Maru to the company's flagship character, Hello… More >>
  • BEST SALVAGE YARD

    This isn't the kind of place where your finds are cleaned up, sorted, and given price tags. This is the kind of salvage yard where, upon finding 20 feet of the exact plate rail that's half-gone from your 1909 dining room, you schlep it downstairs to a guy in greasy coveralls who eyeballs it--and you--and barks out, "$10." There's a… More >>
  • BEST SCHOOL FOR DOGS

    For the past 176 dog years (since 1958), Ruth Foster has trained dogs in one capacity or another. She's the associate director of the University of Minnesota's Center to Study Human Animal Relationships and Environments, a teacher, and a judge for the American Kennel Club, and until recently she served as director of training at the Twin Cities Obedience Training… More >>
  • BEST SKATE SHOP

    Cal Surf has been a staple of the Uptown/Lakes scene for better than a decade now, providing the extreme-sports cult with toys that roll, float, and slide. In addition to skateboards from the likes of Zooyork and World Industry, Cal Surf has soft-boot and traditional inline skates in both recreational and aggressive styles. They carry snowboards to take the loll… More >>
  • BEST SPORTING GOODS STORE

    True story: A man bought his wife a $100 gift certificate from Play It Again Sports last Christmas in the hope that she would get herself either cross-country skis or a pair of ice skates. After two hours in the Southtown store, she walked out with exactly the size and style of used skis ($34.99) and skates ($24.99) she'd been… More >>
  • BEST TATTOO PARLOR

    This place was the talk of the King's Court Tattoo Convention last November, and the local buzz still hasn't died down. Located well off the beaten path in pastoral Hopkins, Electric Dragonland isn't the shady concern you imagine when you think of a tattoo parlor. Gone are the long rows of standardized designs lining the walls, the dilapidated furnishings and… More >>
  • BEST THRIFT STORE

    At DAV, the piles of junk and whatsits stay in the back room; here, merchandise that is for sale is neatly organized and in solid condition. You may be a bit less likely to find a hidden treasure, but most of what you buy will be worth hauling up the stairs to your apartment: On a recent visit, we were… More >>
  • BEST TOY STORE

    There are two Explore Stores at the Science Museum. One caters to adults and features games, books, executive toys, etc., and is remarkably easy to lose yourself in. The other is for kids. If you happen upon the latter at the same time as a busload of 9-year-olds, you'll witness first-hand the strengths of this store. Armed with the field-trip… More >>
  • BEST UNPAINTED FURNITURE

    Bang your shins on the wide selection at this two-story temple to freedom from finish. Naked woods--alder, aspen, basswood, beech, birch, cedar, maple, oak, pine--provide a sawmill aroma for the manifold styles on display, from semi-Provincial to Stickleyesque Mission to semi-Danish. Budget range also varies, from the bargain bedside table to the quarter-sawed oak dresser with brass pulls. It's a… More >>
  • BEST UPSCALE THRIFT STORE

    What with the Beemers and urban muscle-utes parked outside, we might be forgiven for thinking that the maniacally attentive staff at this Wayzata boardwalk storefront tailed us suspecting we were shoplifters. At least until the gushiest of the salesladies--and they are ladies, as in ladies who lunch--snuck up on one of CP's undercover shoppers with an aquamarine cloche, popped the… More >>
  • BEST USED FURNITURE (CHEAPER THAN DIRT)

    There are people who buy brand new furniture. There are others who buy antiques. If you can't afford either, you're stuck with veneered particle board or good, used furniture. But how to assure the latter? Principle number one: screening. "We keep about a quarter of the stuff that's coming to us," says Steeple People salesperson Nancy Faillettaz. Number two: price. Last… More >>
  • BEST USED FURNITURE (VINTAGE)

    If you can make it past the first two floors of vintage decorations at this antique mega-center without blowing all your cash, the third floor will empty your wallet. The hangar-sized room houses just about every kind of table, chair, cabinet, desk, dresser, bed, or shelving unit you can imagine. Lit only with period lamps, the Furniture Gallery takes you… More >>
  • BEST USED MACHINE GRAVEYARD

    Sig Harris, the 76-year-old, second-generation proprietor defines the massive stock Harris Machinery has accumulated on its five-acre spread since 1903 by degrees of obsolescence. "Blowers aren't very good business anymore."--"The motor business isn't what it used to be."--"Dunnage bags: I don't know if they even use them anymore."--"We used to sell pulleys--we had fields of them."--"Some of these blocks are… More >>
  • BEST VETERINARIAN

    While any house pet can check in for treatment, most often Fluffy and Fido end up here after their friendly neighborhood vet--a UM alum, chances are--throws up her hands. That's because the University of Minnesota Veterinary Teaching Hospital specializes in caring for the truly infirm, the weirdly afflicted, and the so-stinky-no-one-but-you-loves-them. A bulletin board in the human-hospital-sized lobby bears testimony… More >>
  • BEST VIDEO RENTAL

    Every year, the sign above Discount's flashing marquee--Your Neighborhood Video Store Since 1981--represents a more impressive claim. Betamax has come and gone; Wayne Huizenga and his Blockbuster chain have boomed and busted; Title Wave has gone Hollywood; and Discount is still here in Minneapolis. This modest showroom is home to some 12,500 titles (search the catalog at www.videovendors.com)--enough so you… More >>
  • BEST VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE

    There is, of course, plenty of fodder for sociocultural rumination in the retro-costuming trend--but sometimes a dress is just a dress, and anybody who tells you different probably isn't having much fun anyway. Lula has a fab selection of just-a-dresses, along with gabardine suits and Holly Golightly hats, all at reasonable prices. Most important, the staff never hassles you with… More >>
  • BEST VINYL (LISTENABLE)

    The upstairs at Let It Be has rare James Brown 45s, Can LPs, and a constantly growing selection of gorgeous jazz albums. But it's the dance-music shop in the basement that draws us back again and again. Not only is it stocked with hundreds of very hard to find techno, drum 'n' bass, hip-hop, trip-hop, and house records, you can… More >>
  • BEST VINYL (WEARABLE)

    Lava Lounge's newly opened, roomier Lyn-Lake digs are decorated in blue and silver instead of red and black, giving the raver shop a new mood that's light, sleek, and airy instead of dense and sinful. Of course, we'd shop at Lava Lounge even if it were in a Ridgedale kiosk: For trashy clothes and assorted lifestyle accessories, there's hardly another… More >>
Loading...