Best of the City: Shopping


→ Home Design Help

Kelly Bros. Home and Design Center

Construction projects are scary. You want to work with people you trust, from your contractor to the guy who’s selling you paint. But where do you start? At Kelly Bros. Home and Design Center in Latonia. They carry some typical hardware store stuff, like hardware and locksets, but the true stars of the show are their people: Trina Giles, on the kitchen design and bath team, can take a so-so kitchen layout, listen to what you like, and come up with a configuration that fits your lifestyle. Bob Halderman will help you choose your windows and doors, explaining warrantees and options along the way. He might even help your budget when he points out that a standard door will work just as well as the pricey eight-foot oak and wrought iron beauty you’re eying. This is the kind of help you really need. Latonia,

Illustration by Matthew Billington

Native Plant Knowledge

Mary’s Plant Farm

Mary is 96 years old and still works every day at the nursery. That should tell you everything you need to know, but just in case: The six-acre farm has been in operation for 41 years, hosts events and workshops, and, beyond supplying local gardeners, mails plant orders across the country. Mary is a pro with native species and what grows well where (attention new gardeners: this will make your life and yard so much better) and has also developed an impressive collection of rare, endangered plants, which she propagates, distributes to collectors, and educates visitors about. Hamilton,

→ Upcycled Jewelry

Lynne & Lucille

The band geek in us fell madly in love with Kelli Fisher’s idea of recycling: She takes worn out instruments, broken cymbals, and old guitar strings and turns them into sculptural pendants, earrings, and rings that make a statement but are still casual enough to wear every day. Also on her workbench: antlers, bones, and porcupine quills. As it says on Fisher’s Etsy, she’s “making almost nothings into pretty somethings.” And we want it all in our jewelry box.

→ Off-the-Beaten Path Beer Selections

Craft Pointe

This strip-mall storefront is king of the craft beer realm that lies north of the I-275 loop. Regularly stocked with an eclectic mix from local (Moerlein’s SpaceTime), regional (Jackie O’s Black Mask), and national (3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust) favorites. Mason, (513) 907-2177

Pleasant Ridge BP

This inconspicuous gas station is not the type of place you’d expect to snag 3 Floyd’s Robert the Bruce or MadTree’s Gin Barrel Aged Joon or Clown Shoes’ Vic Secret Space Cake Double IPA or Southern Tier’s Cold Press Coffee Pumking…which is why regulars swear by the place. Plus, Tacos Locos is almost always parked in the lot. Pleasant Ridge, (513) 882-3461

Jeff’s Marathon

Ignore the west side at your own peril—Jeff’s Marathon has been one of the city’s best hophead haunts for years. New and unique brew selections come in weekly, with a treasure trove of rare bombers such as Stone’s Enjoy By IPA series, Chester cherry saison and Saber Tooth Tiger imperial ale from Rhinegeist, Braxton’s Kentucky Home mint julep-style ale, and Listermann/Warped Wing collaboration Cuvée de 75. Bridgetown, (513) 598-3350

Bargain Shopping for Risk Takers

Fast Track It

Online auction site Fast Track It isn’t for the faint of heart. Their sales feature returns, closeouts, or overstocks from a variety of retailers (“Fasttrackazon” is code for Amazon; “Members Only Club” is Sam’s Club). But you roll the dice with your bid. Items are labeled by condition (“appears new,” “open box,” “damaged”). Winners head to a warehouse, track down their prize, and inspect it. Happy with your purchase? If you got a $400 Weber grill for $86.01 (plus the 17 percent buyers’ premium), you’d be happy, too. Multiple locations,

Music Geek Hangout

Herzog Music

Whaddya want? Vinyl? They got it, from local groups like the Hiders to legends like Carole King. Gear? Sure: receivers, turntables, guitar strings. Instruments? A selection courtesy of Mike’s Music, including drums, keys, and guitars that range from a cheap Spectrum strat copy to a Gibson Firebird north of $7,000. Herzog also offers repairs, a range of classes courtesy Queen City Music Academy, and events with the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (which shares the space) where you can learn all about when Hank Williams recorded “Lovesick Blues” under the very same roof in 1948. Downtown,

Way to Spend a Lunch Hour  

Main Auction Galleries

Every Tuesday starting at 10:30 a.m., Main Auction Galleries holds a live auction at its Fourth Street storefront downtown. All the characters are there: the wise-cracking auctioneer, the salty owner overseeing it all (J. Louis Karp, who’s been in the biz since he was 15), the son/co-owner (Jonas Meyer Karp; he’ll be the one handling the goods), and the crowd, a blend of auction pros, shrewd grannies, and lookie-loos. The die-hards start right on time, but feel free to wait until closer to noon, when they bring out the big stuff from the front of the shop. The people-watching alone is worth the price of admission, which is $0. Plus there’s free pizza, so you won’t have to go back to work and eat at your desk. Downtown,

→ Bookstore Migration

Blue Manatee

While manatees follow warm water, bookstores—even those named after marine mammals—are generally stationary. But this year, Blue Manatee up and moved into new Madison Road digs. The smaller space is bright and open, and the familiar “activatees,” including storytimes, are still in place. The autograph wall has also been retained—it now forms part of the storytime hearth and the checkout counter, and many signatures and illustrations are preserved in glass tiles that frame the entry. Oakley,

→ New OTR Shop

The Most Beautiful Thing In The World Is

This boutiques inventory spans most of the globe. The store’s hand-carved birds from a Danish designer peek out from various perches, seemingly keeping watch over an eclectic collection of worldly wares curated by owner Carrington Broeman on her travels. There is the hand-blown glass she procured in the Pacific Northwest and water-gilded Jacaranda wooden bowls in Africa. High-end French-Spanish fashion hanging comfortably next to cozy, cashmere knitwear from San Francisco-based Margaret O’leary makes this shop a must-stop. Over-the-Rhine,

→ Light Fixture Mecca

Lighting EFX

Any building or remodeling project requires selecting. You choose colors, finishes, materials, and on and on. Lighting EFX in Florence makes the process easy. Create an account at their website, set up your wish list, then make an appointment. Angel Rucker can help you weed through your options, make suggestions, and guide you to the best fixtures for your project and budget, whether you’re lighting a whole house or just your bathroom. Florence,

→ Upcycled Watch Upgrade

Cincy Strap Works

So your watch works fine but the band is looking ratty. Change it up with a new one from Cincy Strap Works, a husband/wife design duo. Their specialty is upcycled seat belt material, classed up with stainless steel hardware. You can also choose from the “supple” line of woven polyester, or just go for broke with the handmade leather (just kidding, the premium strap will only set you back $75).

Sneakerhead Nirvana


Photograph by Wes Battoclette


UNheardof blends graffiti artist Chris Gliebe’s decaled selections alongside Bengals and Reds apparel in one of the only storefronts in Cincinnati with an interior mural. Offering an exclusive selection of Nike, Adidas, and Vans, expect to find the Air Foamposite and Pharrell Williams Series alongside the latest Anaheim Factory designs. UNheardof also supplies high-end baby shoes and 3D print-decaled underwear because, why not? Downtown,


Running with the slogan “Corporate Got ’em,” the Corporate OTR branch is deceptively minimal: white walls sprinkled with Donnie Quillen photography, small runs of white piping, and a store space small enough to barely fit Fiona. Don’t be fooled. Corporate OTR offers rare finds like Saucony’s Grid series, Freeman Plat’s Quarter Joggers, and Mr. Completely jeans and hoodies alongside Corporate’s own selection of hats and T-shirts. From Puma suede to Nike’s Air Max series, there’s a good chance Corporate does indeed got ’em. Over-the-Rhine,

→ Racquet Supply Shop

Midwest Sports

Tennis players pretty much always need something: new strings, new shoes, new duds. Midwest Sports has local players covered. Located just north of Sharon Woods on Reading Road, this all-things-tennis (and pickleball) store has been around for 20-plus years. They also offer racquet demos to try out before buying. Advantage shoppers! Springdale,

West Side Bartering Spot

Bargains and Buyouts

This locally-owned and -operated place is aptly named. Think of it as Home-Goods-meets-Ballard-Designs-outlet, with way better selection on big ticket items. From faux cow skin dining chairs to sectional sofas galore—at bargain basement prices—everything is new (overstock or discontinued items). It’s well worth a trip. Covedale and Greenhills,

Surprise Rug Hook-Up

Hansa Guild

Did you know that there’s a fun little rug room in the back of this 32-year-old Ludlow Avenue shop? It holds dozens of rugs, all from collectives in countries like Afghanistan, Mexico, India, and Australia. And Greta (a.k.a. the sweetest shop owner) let us know that no child labor was involved in their production. We’ll take one for every room. Clifton,

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