Shopping & Services

  • BEST ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE

    Art+Architecture

    A little-known but accurate axiom is that organization is the spice of architectural salvage. In this case, "organization" means that little kick that turns a casual browse into a purposeful, focused buying expedition. Art & Architecture knows organization. Dozens of vintage windows, stained glass and otherwise, are filed neatly and accessibly. Glass shades and globes occupy rows of shelves, with… More >>
  • BEST ART SUPPLIES

    Wet Paint

    Browsing a good art-supply store is like foreplay, or maybe more like cruising, but at any rate the experience can hold the anticipatory pleasure of presaging a greater pleasure. This jam-packed independent has an inspiring atmosphere that just might make your next masterwork all the more masterful, and the place has the goods to meet the needs of serious artists… More >>
  • BEST BIKE SHOP

    One on One

    Entering One on One from Washington Avenue will lead you to a coffee shop like so many others, with hardwood floors and local art on the walls. But customers taking their bikes in for repair will have to take the back way, the sort of creepy way—the way that involves venturing down the alley behind Sex World. It's really not… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE (CHAIN)

    Borders Books & Music

    We want to reject Borders and its jack-of-all-trades, master-of-nothing MO. For one thing, Borders, like all of the big-biz bookstores, has become less and less bookish, steadily deemphasizing its stock-in-trade to make room for more cute diaries, MOR CDs, and Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs. The store's less commercial sections—philosophy, for instance—have generally suffered as a result of diversification, but Borders… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE (INDIE)

    Magers and Quinn

    "Independently owned" is retail's rockiest road, particularly in the book racket. Squeezed by online giants, hounded by avaricious landlords, perused and abused by a fickle clientele often more interested in looking than buying—is it any wonder that so many booksellers have abandoned storefronts in favor of web-based operations—or, worse still, given up the ghost? Like fellow survivors Powell's (Portland) and… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE (USED)

    Majors and Quinn

    Uptown was never the "white, black, Puerto Rican, everybody just-a-freakin'" Shangri-La Prince describes in the neighborhood's semiofficial anthem, but back in the '80s and early '90s it was fairly cool, with its punks lingering and panhandling in front of McDonalds, Pavement playing a packed Uptown Bar, and not so many Gaps and American Eagle Outfitters around to harsh the mellow.… More >>
  • BEST BOUTIQUE

    Design Collective

    The spring-green facade of this shop is easy to miss. Hidden in the shadows just off of Uptown's main drag, Design Collective is an incubator for new designers. The suspended wire racks hold nothing but local creations, from completely original pieces to thick-knitted accessories to old apparel that's been chopped up and revamped. In addition to the tres chic, asymmetrically… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE (NEW)

    Electric Fetus

    Though it hosts its share of in-stores and attracts music geeks of various passions, the Fetus isn't a hangout; it's too big and busy for proper record-counter breeze shooting. (Or to trot out an old joke: No one goes there anymore—it's too crowded.) The store's non-hangout status is possibly a point against it, since superstores and the internet have delivered… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE (USED)

    Cheapo

    Our one gripe with Cheapo is their nutty taxonomic system, especially how the powers that be divide what could be a huge but user-friendly pop/rock section into "classic rock," "modern rock," "metal," "punk rock," "punkabilly with some modest jazz-fusion influences," etc. Okay, not that last one. All this categorization forces the consumer to do lots of flitting around and guesswork—especially… More >>
  • BEST CLOTHING (MEN)

    Top Shelf

    Let's get some technical matters out of the way first. At Top Shelf, you'll generally be getting made-to-measure rather than bespoke clothes. A bespoke garment is something made from a pattern specifically cut for the buyer and sewn in-house; a made-to-measure garment is sewn, usually at an outside location, from an existing pattern but tailored to meet the buyer's preferences… More >>
  • BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP

    Big Brain's Comics

    Dreamhaven has the most stuff (including a world-class selection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror books), while Nostalgia Zone offers vintage comics galore. But Big Brain's bright, cheery ambience and cultural relevance would have it in the catbird seat, even if the place's intelligent layout weren't so apparent. The temple of graphically enhanced narrative's resident proprietor, Michael Drivas, simply has… More >>
  • BEST COMPUTER REPAIR

    General NanoSystems

    Don't be daunted if General NanoSystems is packed when you bring your ailing PC in. (Sorry, Mac users, you'll have to go elsewhere.) Simply set your computer on one of the store's many tables and relax. A technician will be at your side within minutes, lending an understanding ear and offering possible solutions—starting with the least expensive. If your problem… More >>
  • BEST DOG TRAINING

    Obedience Training Club

    Ask any metro-area canine adoption agency or foster family how best to teach an ill-tempered pooch some manners, and you'll understand why the Twin Cities Obedience Training Club has earned the distinction of "Best Dog Training" two years running. "Go to the TCOTC," they'll say reflexively (some will even make you promise in writing that you will). The reason: Dog… More >>
  • BEST DVD RENTAL

    Cinema Revolution

    Not content to remain merely the Cities' most discerning collector of film art on DVD, the video store at the edge of the Wedge has actually endeavored to make culture at a time when all of cinephilia seems under siege. One indication of that immodest effort can be found in the shop's reference library of film books (where else can… More >>
  • BEST ELECTRONICS (AUDIOPHILE)

    Maybe your accountant showed you the money this year, but ours sure didn't. So while no recession will likely put the bottom line above the high-end when it comes to our audiophilic addictions, the faint hint of affordability does make it easier to...well, succumb. Among the upscale variety of A/V showrooms, this longtime local indie (whose sister store is in… More >>
  • BEST ELECTRONICS (PROLETARIAN)

    radio shack

    Your gramps probably got his UHF antenna here—maybe even your great-gramps. Now, in the mid-'00s, this classic ode to connectivity has regained its signal by embracing wireless tech while keeping all its cables, couplers, splitters, adapters, and extension cords online, too. Seriously: If the affordable hookup you need for your phone, satellite radio, PA, or plain ol' TV isn't here,… More >>
  • BEST GARDEN CENTER

    Lyndale Garden Center

    Come early April, Minnesota gardeners are suffering from serious flower envy. Our friends to the south of us are happily cutting tulips and daffodils from their perennial gardens while we're forced to fake it for another seven weeks by filling out vases with supermarket bouquets. Toward the end of April, it's more than envy; it's downright resentment. In short, gardening… More >>
  • BEST GIFT STORE

    Patina

    St. Paul's Ax-Man is our go-to for gag gifts. And if you're going to give us a gift, visit Uptown's Robot Love. Unfortunately, a pound of marbles or a Gamma-Glo deathbot T-shirt isn't everyone's cup of tea, so thank goodness there's Patina. With an inventory of the silly but functional (kitschy vintage dish towels), luxuriously nonessential (the decadent Thymes lotion… More >>
  • BEST GOLF SHOP

    Golf Club Hospital

    One glance at the Golf Club Hospital tells you they've been plying their noble trade for decades. (Since 1967, in fact.) If the hand-painted window display doesn't tip you off, the wares inside surely will. Hell, even their website has a retro feel. But step inside the tiny storefront to watch the past and the future collide. Stately relics from… More >>
  • BEST HAIRCUT

    Aveda Institute

    Beautifciation at the Aveda Institute doesn't come fast. But to indulge in Aveda pampering—tea, scalp massage, earthy and luxurious products—at rock-bottom prices, you can set your schedule aside for an hour. Twelve bucks gets you a cut and style, while color costs between $25 and $55 dollars; compare that to salon prices of $40 and up for a cut and… More >>
  • BEST HARDWARE STORE

    Gardner Hardware

    It wasn't only the big-box home-improvement giants that threatened to squash this 45-year-old hardware store last year. In July, condos were slated to move in and promptly boot the hardware store out. Proposed as "Gardner Lofts," the brainchild of a real-estate group called Shamrock Development would've forced the 122-year-old hardware company to find a new spot to sell its assortment… More >>
  • BEST LAUNDROMAT

    Rainbow Laundromat

    If you're anything like us, and Lord help you if you are, you suffer from a little problem known as listobia—a fear of having to devote chunks of your weekend to such mundane and time-consuming tasks as washing clothes. Thankfully, the Rainbow Laundromat offers proven-to-work immersion and diversion therapies that can help even those suffering from the most severe cases… More >>
  • BEST MUSIC STORE (CHAIN)

    Guitar Center

    Guitar Center should have changed its name long ago. Granted, the leviathan offers a plethora of Fenders, Gibsons, and numerous other brand-name axes, all festooning a room half the size of Rhode Island and often heavily discounted. But delve deeper into the maze and you'll find equally imposing selections of drums, live sound gear, recording equipment, electronic instruments, and effects.… More >>
  • BEST MUSIC STORE (LOCAL YOKEL)

    Groth Music's

    It's almost impossible not to be shocked by Groth Music's interior at first glance. The place is spacious enough to park a 747, with room left over for a fleet of golf carts and a course to drive them around on. Give yourself a minute to adjust to the store's scale, and you'll encounter a selection of music-related wares that… More >>
  • BEST PET ADOPTION

    Midwestern Avian Adoption and Rescue Services

    Owning a parrot or other exotic bird isn't for everyone, and the folks at the Midwestern Avian Adoption and Rescue Services (MAARS), the largest avian-only adoption, shelter, and sanctuary organization in the United States, will be the first to tell you that. The birds are destructive and messy and high-maintenance—and they're also not meant to live in captivity. MAARS staff… More >>
  • BEST PIANO TUNERS

    Gagnon Piano Service

    Acoustic pianos aren't the household fixtures they once were, but they're still fairly prevalent, and most of them have more character and music in them than a fleet of state-of-the-art digitals. If, that is, you don't neglect the poor wooden behemoths. Now, some nimble keyboardists can conjure some mighty fine ragtime or honky-tonk or barrelhouse piano out of a poorly… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY STRIPPER CLOTHES

    Sex World

    For the first time since Sonny Lester's 1963 LP How to Strip for Your Husband, exotic dancing has come into vogue as an at-home activity, with Borders selling instructional DVDs in the exercise section and online stores hawking brass poles designed to fit in an unused corner of the house. Stripper clothes have evolved since the French lingerie and pasties… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY VINYL

    Fifth Element

    Grandmaster Flash had adventures on the wheels of steel, not skylarkings on the laser semiconductor of polycarbonate (or whatever). In other words, hip hop and vinyl go together like bluegrass and mandolins. At the recently expanded Fifth Element, the digital/analog battle logically goes to the underdog: The CD section feels like an afterthought next to the shop's expansive selection of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DROP OFF YOUR KID FOR A WHILE

    Ikea

    Anyone with children knows the grind of childcare. It's not easy getting people to look after your ankle-biters, after all. Childcare is expensive, it adds to your commute time, and sometimes childcare professionals can seem a little sketchy. Thankfully, our Scandinavian friends have come up with a solution. Ikea, turns out, offers free childcare for shoppers in their enormous Bloomington… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET LOST WHILE RUNNING ERRANDS

    Bauer Brothers Salvage

    Somewhere in those four unheated warehouse floors full of every imaginable house part from the last century is just what you need for your weekend home improvement project. You'll most likely find it, but that's not why you should come to this place. Bauer Brothers is a dusty, rambling tribute to disassembled American homes and businesses. There's a general organization… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RENT FOREIGN FILMS

    Intercontinental

    Amazingly, the much-touted alt-film industry crisis doesn't seem to have impeded the ongoing growth of this border-crossing multiculti kingpin, whose Bollywood section alone now takes up more than a dozen shelves. Import DVDs abound here, of course, but, contrary to popular opinion, out-of-print VHS has never been more essential to a video store's distinction, and Intercontinental still displays its last… More >>
  • BEST SHOE STORE

    Bay Street Shoes

    This shop in Calhoun Square may be small, but it looms large in the imagination of Twin Cities shoe fanciers. Why? Because Bay Street stocks fun shoes in every category. Urban women can flirt with paisley pumps with leopard ties while the Sex and the City set head for turquoise suede cork wedges, and students can ogle the high-tech sneakers… More >>
  • BEST THRIFT STORE

    Unique Thrift store

    This St. Paul thrift store is paradise for OCD sufferers. Despite its function as a giant receptacle for random used goods, everything at Unique Thrift store—from travel-size shampoos to teeny bottles of gold glitter paint—can come in handy for any random ocassion. Recently broke a leg and are in search of a pair of used crutches for under five bucks?… More >>
  • BEST TOBACCONIST

    Lewis Pipe & Tobacco

    This isn't the smoke shop you pop into for a pack of P-Funks before you hit the (nonsmoking) bars. If that's what you're looking for, hit up any generic corner store with "Tobacco" in big, bright-red block letters. If what you seek are some of the finest cigars and pipe and rolling tobacco, the tops is Lewis Pipe & Tobacco,… More >>
  • BEST TOY STORE

    Robot Love

    The Japanese have this word, otaku. It's used to describe foreigners who get a little too excited about anime, manga, and action figures from video games that don't exist in the U.S. There's a good chance the Twin Cities otaku already know about Robot Love. After all, this is the store that introduced Uptown to characters like Gloomy, the adorable… More >>
  • BEST USED FURNITURE

    Succotash

    With the sudden demise of Theatre Antiques a few weeks ago, there are few places for the thrifty hipster to furniture-shop for those mid-century Eames-style home decorating masterpieces that the Walker Art Center keeps reminding us that we love. Sure, there's Design Within Reach near Uptown, but the store should probably be renamed "Design Within Reach of Those with Six-Figure… More >>
  • BEST VIDEO RENTAL

    Nicollet Village Video

    Faced with the DVD juggernaut a few years ago, Nicollet Village Video chose to switch rather than fight, introducing the new format alongside the old not a moment too soon—at least judging by the recent demise of VHS-devoted Discount Video. April 2006 marks the first month in which not a single title sought by Nicollet was available on VHS. So… More >>
  • BEST YARN STORE

    The Yarnery

    The Yarnery feels more like a home than a shop—the home of some kind yarn-lovers who have filled every nook and hall with bright wools, alpacas, and mohairs, all neatly arranged on wooden shelves. Even non-knitters are advised to visit the Yarnery for color therapy in the winter, but knitters need only wander in here for a few minutes to… More >>
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