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  • BEST MEN'S CLOTHING

    Intoto

    Intoto is so fancy you have to ring a doorbell just to get in. But if you can afford to splurge, or are comfortable with debt accumulation, Intoto is the best spot in town for elegant casual men's clothes. You'll find clothes for first dates and trips to New York, clothes for dancing in clubs or shopping for beachfront property… More >>
  • BEST WOMEN'S CLOTHING

    Picky Girl

    Grand Avenue couture traditionally consists of Birkenstocks and rough-weave hemp burka-skirts, but last spring, the dowdy street got a shot of youthful style when Picky Girl opened. The boutique isn't big, but then it doesn't fill every inch of its space with designer denims. Instead, you get a carefully chosen selection of dresses, skirts, tees, and sweaters from brands like… More >>
  • BEST USED CLOTHING

    Ragstock

    Sometimes the only difference between "vintage" and "used" is a fistful of Hamiltons. Anyone who wants to look retro-stylish on the cheap should check out Ragstock's wares. Aside from being the go-to store for kitschy Halloween costumes (mix and match for extra postmodernism!), they've got plenty of stuff for every stripe of hipster (and hipster-hater): T-shirts emblazoned with everything from… More >>
  • BEST USED CLOTHING (KIDS)

    Once Upon a Child

    The haul from a recent trip to Once Upon a Child: one pair indestructible Gap denim overalls, one April Cornell pleated dress with matching rosettes, one pair Timberland hiking boots (toddler size 7), and one flowery, warm Hanna Andersson snowsuit, apparently never worn, at one-third of retail. The tally at the cash register: $48.50—about the price of any one of… More >>
  • BEST BOUTIQUE

    Design Collective

    This boutique's mission is to support up-and-coming local designers, and it sells the lines of Katherine Gerdes (of Project Runway fame) and Marie Gardeski (who's behind Foliage). From silk-screened T-shirts to exquisite dresses, the boutique offers many ways to stand out in the crowd. Oddly enough, prices remain affordable. Most pieces are less than $100. Designers are given room to… More >>
  • Cliché

    BEST PLACE TO FIND LOCALLY DESIGNED CLOTHING

    Cliché

    Only three years old, Cliché is quickly becoming a front-runner in the local fashion scene. An entire wall in the small, uptown boutique displays the wares of local designers, with additional homemade purses, necklaces, and T-shirts sprinkled throughout the store. A green frayed jacket by Laura Fulk's Dire Delusion hangs on the wall in front of a rack of red… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE (NEW)

    The Electric Fetus

    Fetus offers the sort of knowledgeable and attentive service that one rarely finds at stores of its size. If you're trying to hunt down a CD, you won't get a sighing, "If it's not out there, we don't have it," but rather an escort to the proper section, an escort who, if that first measure strikes out, will research the… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE (USED)

    Cheapo Discs

    Now more than ever, CD ownership is a transitory venture: buy an album, find out you only like half of it, rip the half you like to your computer, and sell the CD for just enough money to turn a $15 mistake into a $10 lesson learned. But for those of us who like to physically possess our music—you never… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY VINYL

    Hymie's Vintage Records

    You don't need to be a hardcore wax fetishist to appreciate Hymie's vast collection of vintage platters and pleasingly musty scent of old vinyl and cardboard. From big band and swing to R&B, rock, jazz, and easy listening, every genre is voluminously represented. Vinyl goldmine? Unquestionably. But an equal case could be made for Hymie's as the best pop-culture museum… More >>
  • BEST MUSIC STORE (CHAIN)

    Guitar Center

    The sheer volume—pun intended—of gear here can be overwhelming, but each location has a quieter side. Roseville's gems are often vintage Gibson and Martin acoustic guitars, and the Edina location routinely houses very high-end, collectible Fender guitars. And unlike with some specialty shops, the Edina store hangs $5,000 Stratocasters within reach of the hand, if not the pocket book. Yes,… More >>
  • BEST MUSIC STORE (INDEPENDENT)

    Twin Town Guitars

    Spend too long perusing the formidable selection of guitar effects at this recently expanded local gem, and it would be easy to miss him: Andrew Bell, the easygoing proprietor. He and his employees, many of them gigging musicians, will remember your name and know the value of your trade-in, and can order just about anything you need to create the… More >>
  • BEST VIDEO RENTAL

    Nicollet Village Video

    One of the last local independent video stores that's still devoted to diversity, this messy, musty, but quite well stocked outlet continues to impress. On a recent visit, we lingered longest in "Documentaries"—any smart vid store's clearest path to distinction—and found an early-'60s doc by Exorcist director William Friedkin called The People vs. Paul Crump, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl's 1950… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RENT FOREIGN FILMS

    Cinema Revolution

    Newly relocated, Cinema Revolution is a movie buff's library—literally, what with the bookshelf holding dozens of books about various filmmakers. If anything, the new digs lend an even more international flavor to a shop that has always prized its imports above all. Foreign titles are arranged by both country and auteur, with three shelves apiece devoted to Francois Truffaut and… More >>
  • BEST CAR WASH

    Mermaid Car Wash

    Climbing into a freshly scrubbed and vacuumed car feels like sliding into clean sheets after a bubble bath. For just $12.99, Mermaid Car Wash will put your little automotive pal through the wash, vacuum out its insides, and wipe down the cloudy windows and crumb-dotted consoles. If you want to upgrade to the Car Care Package for $16.99, they'll add… More >>
  • One on One Bicycle Studio

    BEST BIKE SHOP

    One on One Bicycle Studio

    It's the little things that elevate these stylish North Loop grease monkeys above their peers. The coffee shop in the front of the store certainly helps, giving chilly bike messengers a place to warm up and talk shop. And the bike-themed art that decks the exposed-brick walls is also a pleasure, proving One on One's interest in bike culture goes… More >>
  • BEST TOY STORE

    Kiddywampus

    Imagine this play date: The kids are throwing paint at the walls and careening around, indoors, on little scooters. Horror? But wait...it's not at your house. Go right ahead, little Jackson Pollock and Danica Patrick! This is playtime at Kiddywampus, a new toy store tucked away in what looks like a converted garage behind the Convention Grill. Serious thought has… More >>
  • BEST BABY GOODS STORE

    Baby Grand

    There's half a dozen high-class boutiques where you can buy a $140 Fleurville diaper bag, but what about a $20 pack of six cloth diapers, an assortment of Avent nipples, and that tiny hose attachment that came loose from your breast pump? At Baby on Grand, you can get your fancy I-didn't-cancel-Vogue-when-I-gave-birth diaper bag, outfit an entire nursery, and pick… More >>
  • BEST ART SUPPLIES

    Art Materials

    Thanks to the Twin Cities' numerous art school programs and graphic design firms, we're blessed with many well-stocked art supply stores. But the one that best combines pleasant quarters with a well-chosen inventory is Uptown's Art Materials. This store has all the oils, charcoals, canvases, pencils, and portfolios you need, as well as the framing expertise to immortalize your creations… More >>
  • BEST YARN STORE

    Clickity Sticks & Yarns, LLC - CLOSED

    Clickity Sticks & Yarns may not be the biggest shop in town, but it feels most like home. The charming co-owners, Tamara Del Sonno and Camille Meyer, welcome both novices and experts into their cozy quarters, which include a big table where crafty types gather to share tips while creating a beautifully intricate sweater or a sweet pair of baby… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE (NEW)

    Micawber's Books

    David Copperfield's Wilkins Micawber was an eternal optimist who, like Charles Dickens's father, wound up in debtor's prison. He is thus the perfect namesake for an independent bookstore. At this point, to say that these are hard times for indie bookstores is like suggesting that something seems to be amiss with the ozone layer. Our latest local casualty was Query… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE (USED)

    Magers & Quinn

    It's nice when a bookstore is large and serpentine enough to offer hidey-holes and escape routes, should one catch a glimpse of an irritating co-worker or regrettable ex-boyfriend. M&Q's buyers are discerning, so the treasure-to-trash ratio is above average, but they're also democratic, so they have pulp paperbacks as well as the letters of Robert Lowell, a shelf devoted to… More >>
  • BEST CHILDREN'S BOOKSTORE

    Wild Rumpus Books for Young Readers

    Inset into the front door of the Wild Rumpus is a miniature purple door—a special kid-sized portal that creates a sense of play and fantasy and lets little people know that the shop inside is specially designed for them. And what a magical place it is! Little girls dressed in sparkly Snow White costumes attend Monday-morning story time while their… More >>
  • BEST GIFT STORE

    Re Gifts

    Besides standards like sweet-smelling beeswax candles and all-natural bath and body products, Re Gifts also offers more unusual fare: Minnesota license plates made into eye-catching purses, guitars crafted from old cigar boxes, bracelets that began life as bicycle chains, and lamps made entirely from circuit boards. And if you need more reason to feel good, the "10 dollars and under"… More >>
  • BEST MALL

    The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes

    The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes are a retail chimera, blending strip mall stores and small town charm. There's no roof here, no interior—just New Urbanist streets with cute lampposts and piped-in music. The Shoppes hosts Anthropologie, and teens come here for Abercrombie and Hot Topic. Throw in the Twin Cities' newest Trader Joe's, mega-beauty emporium Ulta, and a next-door 16-screen… More >>
  • BEST PET ADOPTION

    A Rotta Love

    If ever there was a dog breed that needed a good publicist, it's the Rottweiler. Thankfully, there's the poetically named A Rotta Love, which has a three-pronged mission: rescue, adoption, and, perhaps most important, education. Tiffany Huebner founded A Rotta Love after falling in love with a Rottweiler—and with the rescue process by which she became an owner. In addition… More >>
  • BEST HAIRCUT

    Salon Stella

    If Salon Stella were any more chilled out, it would have a nap room. As is, this corner shop in northeast Minneapolis has a funky old couch and a fridge stocked with complimentary Stella Artois. (Get it: They serve Stella at Stella.) Small talk here seems to be strictly optional, so there's no chatter to distract you from your head… More >>
  • BEST HAIR COLORIST

    Seong Heui

    Coloring hair is not as easy as the commercials make it look, so cultivating a relationship with a good hair colorist is a must, even if you're just looking for some well-placed tints. Seong Heui at the Uptown Jon English Hairspa has mastered an extensive color palette. Sometimes she has ideas for you, but she'll also try out your suggestions… More >>
  • BEST EYEBROW WAXER

    Anne Marie Roe

    Anne Marie Roe has immaculate eyebrows. They stretch across her forehead like slender apostrophes, shapely and neat, not a hair out of place. With almost seven years under her belt as an esthetician at Estetica, it's no wonder Roe has mastered the art of the eyebrow. Appointments cost $25 and are 30 minutes long because, as she explains, "I take… More >>
  • BEST GARDEN CENTER

    Highland Nursery, Inc.

    Shopping at Highland Nursery is like poking around in the back shed of some formal English estate. It's jumbled, crowded, and lush, full of metal and bamboo structures twisted into designs simple and ornate, stone cherubs, monks, and dozens of doves—and we're not even to the front door yet. And then there are the gardens—a maze of just under two… More >>
  • BEST SCOOTER SHOP

    Scooterville

    So you want to reenact a scene from Quadrophenia but aren't sure what scooter shop is cool with Mods but also respected by Rockers? If you don't want to risk another Brighton Beach incident, go to Scooterville. Tucked away near the U of M, this funky shop sells and services scooters in a way that's so square it's hip. Owner… More >>
  • BEST THRIFT STORE

    Unique Thrift Store

    This Savers-sized warehouse (and its sister store on Rice Street in St. Paul) has tons more character than that national chain, and far better digging potential than your creepy neighborhood secondhand store. Its for-profit status makes it a little less appealing than, say, the Salvation Army (there's a great one in the North Loop), but there's no arguing with the… More >>
  • BEST JUNKYARD

    U-Pull-R-Parts

    There's a reason customers at U-Pull-R-Parts grin while they sweat behind wheelbarrows full of engine parts. They're getting the best deals on used auto parts in the state. And the economic principle behind those exhaust manifolds ($12), alternators ($19), and car doors ($39) is older than the rusted-out Honda Civic dying in your garage: Cut out the middle man. Whereas… More >>
  • BEST PAWNSHOP

    Hy's Pawn & Jewelry

    Hy's doesn't look like a pawnshop. It's clean, well-organized, and staffed with employees who don't treat customers like criminals. Heck, you don't even have to be buzzed into the store! Hy's doesn't offer the best bargains in town, but its selection and service can't be beat. The store always has an impressive array of the standard pawnshop merchandise: televisions, jewelry,… More >>
  • BEST HARDWARE STORE

    Seven Corners Hardware

    As long as Seven Corners Hardware continues to stock 400 different kinds of screwdriver, the minions of the all-seeing Big Box are, in a word, screwed. A small-"s" staple in downtown St. Paul for more than 70 years, Seven Corners is the original warehouse superstore, with shelves and racks towering to the ceiling, proudly displaying every gizmo, doodad, and thingamabob… More >>
  • BEST TOBACCO STORE

    Lewis Pipe and Tobacco

    Although he's settling into a new shop in the Rand Tower, tobacconist Rich Lewis upholds an age-old tradition. For 35 years he has been making his name both locally and nationally in the art of custom pipe making and repair. Old-school smokers may recall the tiny storefront on Nicollet Mall, where there was scarcely room to strike a match. In… More >>
  • BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP

    Big Brain Comics

    Support your neighborhood comic book shop, including the ones with the best selection (Dreamhaven) and the most experience (Nostalgia Zone). But go out of your way for the smaller, brighter, more compact Big Brain, that rare comics store in which obsession mingles with a flair for retail. Shelves are lovingly stocked with new product and organized like a good wine… More >>

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