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Auel’s Fine Chocolate
After 35 years in the construction business, Randy Auel turned to his family’s avocation: candy making. “My parents made candy when I was growing up,” he says. “Not to sell—they just gave it away to friends.” His case is filled with chocolate turtles as large as coasters, all covered in nuts or sea salt; huge caramel squares enveloped in chocolate; hefty chunks of almond toffee; and an ingenious concoction called potato chip bark. 204 Main St., (513) 607-6013
A freshly baked peach pie cooling on the counter is just one of the sirens pulling you to the shores of this small café. After a hard day of cardio browsing, enjoy a cup of Madisono’s gelato or Seven Hills coffee—or really settle in and order one of the café’s freshly made Italian sandwiches, like the May special (prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, and marinated artichokes) and take a seat on the cozy back terrace. 5 Main St., (513) 831-2233
Clothing designer Amy Kirchen has injected high style into Milford’s Main street. Her boutique, opened in May 2011, offers ready-to-wear dresses in bold patterns and simple silhouettes from 5th Culture, accessories like on-trend druzy stone pendants, and her own exclusive designs. “People are always looking for unique things they can’t find at the mall,” says buyer Amy Chacksfield. 125 Main St., (513) 238-1391
Roads Rivers and Trails
This hiking, kayaking, and backpacking outfitter sells camping gear (pick up a clear, waterproof case for your phone or tablet), footwear (including Vibram’s funky Fivefingers running shoes) as well as hip apparel from Endurance Conspiracy, HaloMiner, and Lole. “We wanted to bring some casual comfort wear to Milford,” says Bryan Wolf, one of RRT’s four owners. RRT also carries paddleboards by Native Watercraft that give you the option of standing or sitting for a not-so-lazy cruise downriver. 118 Main St., (513) 248-7787
Fountain Specialist, Inc.
There may be half a dozen new shops on the strip, but Fountain Specialist, Inc. has occupied its corner of Main Street since 1960. The concrete planters, fountains, and statuary you see outside represent just a small portion of what Fountain Specialist can do. (Head to International Street at King’s Island or the newly revamped Washington Park to see two of their large-scale installations). Says employee Ken Berning, “If you can dream it, we can build it.” 226 Main St., (513) 831-5717
Patty Glass sees the hidden potential in anything, from porch posts and library tables to antique gurneys. After selling her decorating business, Glass set up a furniture rebuilding and refinishing shop in a garage at the south end of Main Street, and transforms her space into The Paris Flea Market (6.)to sell her unique creations along with rugs and vintage décor accessories. Check facebook/PattyGlassDesign for dates. Further down the avenue is That Shop in Milford. This antique mall owned by Nancy Roe hosts a collection of vendors selling everything from terrariums and Pendleton blankets to antique wall clocks and vintage books and cards. You can also find Patty Glass’s repurposed furniture here, like the converted twin headboard that now sports hooks and a chalkboard. “Perfect for a mudroom,” says Roe. Finally, at Gayle’s Vintage, you’ll find every era represented in jewelry, hats, clothing, and accessories. Don’t see what you need? Gayle Stadtmiller has worked for owner Gayle Wilson for eight years and can lay her hands on the perfect touch for your look, be it seamed stockings or white gloves. Paris Flea Market, 1 Main St.; That Shop in Milford, 223 Main St., (513) 831-0065; Gayle’s Vintage, 106 Main St., (513) 831-5404
Few things crown a day of retail therapy as well as a glass of wine. Head to 20 Brix with its inviting outdoor umbrellas and overflowing window boxes and let them pour you a globe from their extensive list. Order one of their popular appetizers, like the lamb meatballs, or indulge in chef Paul Barraco’s decadent fried chicken and waffles—go ahead, you’ve earned it. If you’re hankering for pizza or pasta, head down the street to Padrino. 20 Brix’s sister joint features classic, casual Italian fare along with a well-curated wine list. Locals head in for the meatballs—available with spaghetti, atop pizzas, or as sliders, tucked into Padrino’s popular garlic knots. 101 Main St., (513) 831-2749; 111 Main St., (513) 965-0100
Originally published in the September 2012 issue.