Best of the City 2007

Discount Shoes: Zappos Outlet Store

The Zappos Outlet Store has such a hold on shoe junkies even one of its managers can’t keep her (ahem) footing. “I’ve probably bought 40 pairs of shoes,” says assistant manager Suzanne Hodges. An offspring of the site, known for its “free delivery both ways” and impeccable customer service, the 14,000-square-foot store is packed with 22,000 pairs of shoes from thousands of name brands (Kenneth Cole, Ben Sherman, Kate Spade, Lacoste), deeply discounted between 30 and 70 percent. It’s a bit of a hike—five miles south of Louisville—so pack snacks and fire up the GPS! We’d tell you to wear comfortable shoes but forget that: You’ll try on so many it might be easier just to wear one shoe. 376 Blvd., Shepherdsville, Ky., (502) 921-4949

Handmade Jewelry: Sarah Squeri

Jewelry as art? Sarah Squeri’s got you covered. The downtown native started creating pieces back in high school, taking classes at the College of Mount St. Joseph before heading off to Rochester Institute of Technology to study sculpture and metals. Stints in Venice and Tuscany are reflected in the warm (and cool) colored stones she chooses. Blue topaz, Afghanistan lapis, Australian opals, aquamarines, fancy sapphires—all recreate the mood of these bright, vibrant regions. “I want [customers] to feel absolutely beautiful,” she says. In a 22-inch 18-carat yellow gold chain laced with textured gold nuggets or a mutli-strand natural coral necklace, you’re bound to feel gorgeous. 424 Findlay St., West End, (513) 607-1440,

Christmas Wreath: Big Tree Plantation

Don’t get that plastic wreath from Wal-Mart this year. Go for the good stuff at Big Tree Plantation, where Frank and Ann Antenucci create custom-made wreaths from the tree farm’s pines, cedars, boxwoods, and Douglas firs. You’ll feel like Martha Stewart when you take one of their $29 30-inchers home to decorate. Are you more like Martha’s lazy younger sister? No worries. For an extra 10 bucks the Antenuccis will decorate it for you. 2544 S. Waynesville Rd., Morrow, (513) 899-4624

Vinyl Records: Shake It

Yes, we’re giving Shake It more props. But they’ve surprised us yet again. Last summer, Darren and Jim Blase remodeled their basement to accommodate nearly 10,000 vinyl records, giving their collection the room it deserves. Downstairs you’ll find a haven for record collectors, DJs, and the musically savvy looking for new indie rock presses, break beats, and jazz reissues. They even carry a few vinyl copies of releases from their own label. How’s that for waxing poetic? 4156 Hamilton Ave., Northside, (513) 591-0123

Modern Furniture: Voltage

Need to furnish a downtown loft? Voltage has you covered with its large collection of furniture (think modular sofas from B&B Italia), lighting (such as hanging globe fixtures from Terzani), and accessories. Owner Jeff Hinkel fell in love with European design while studying architecture abroad in the 1980s. “It wasn’t possible to buy high-end modern here back then,” he says. Spend an hour in the spacious, two-floor Voltage showroom and you’ll feel as if you’ve wandered onto the pages of Architectural Digest. 3209 Madison Rd., Oakley, (513) 871-5483

Artsy Wake-Up: Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop

While we understand that Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop prefers to be known as a gallery first and a coffee shop second, we can’t help but praise the eclectic spot as a great java house. Owner Wendy Smith renovated the space, the former home of the T-Shirt Company, upping its artsy appeal by removing the sheetrock in places to expose the brick beneath and by keeping some of the splatter-painted floor intact. Acrylic paintings and black-and-white photographs hang on wooden partitions that surround an area of seated tables. In addition to art by local artists, Redtree also carries cards and handmade gifts, including buttons and wallets. On the extensive menu you’ll find Seven Hills coffee, Chai tea lattes, hot chocolate, teas, cappuccinos, pastries, cookies, and even deli sandwiches. Redtree’s atmosphere will make your usual cup of joe seem much more unusual. 4409 Brazee St., Oakley, (513) 321-8733

Designer Clothes: Arté Nouvelle

If they have any fashion sense at all, this is the clothing your daughters will beg to borrow. Arté Nouvelle carries garments from European designers that are both timeless and up-to-the-minute. Whether you’re drawn to easy-to-wear styles by Oska (Germany), elegant items from the up-and-coming Italian label 6267, or dramatic, make-a-statement pieces by Ivan Grundahl (Denmark) and Isabel de Pedro (Spain), shop owner Cathy Caldemeyer has the fashions that will get you noticed. 3445 Edwards Rd., Hyde Park (513) 841-2783

Holiday Lights: King’s Mills General Store and Christmas Shop

Deck the halls with flickering candles. Or old-fashioned bubble lights. Or even glowing M&Ms. If you’re looking for something new to illuminate the tree this year, King’s Mills General Store and Christmas Shop has it—from 1950s-style reflector lights to glowing holly berries. The store is a fantasyland of ornaments, garlands, candles, and decorations, and enough strings of lights to keep your electric meter spinning from here to Epiphany. 5687 Columbia Rd., Kings Millls, (513) 398-1677

Sneaker Art: Studio Endure

Like the best Pop artist, LeBraun Colvin took a modern phenomenon—the sneaker fetish—and elevated it to wearable art. Using as his canvas inexpensive Starbury sneakers or Air Jordans (and sometimes Chuck Taylor All-Stars or Vans) brought in by customers, Colvin and Tony Carter, his 18-year-old cousin, hand-paint custom designs with acrylic paint. Some customers come with an inkling of a design—a stripe from a polo shirt they saw in a magazine, say, or a full-blown concept of rappers, cartoon characters, or their own names. Prices range from $50 to $75. Since Colvin opened in June, he’s customized more than 100 pairs of sneakers. Word-of-mouth is now so rampant, Colvin has instituted a three- to five-day waiting period. “I see the potential,” says Colvin, a former ArtWorks apprentice and teaching artist. “We gotta keep constantly pounding the pavement.” Wearing pimped-out sneakers, no doubt. 1408 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 579-1120

Tie Selection: Saks Fifth Avenue

In some workplaces, there are few ways a man can show his style, except perhaps through his choice of tie. And the most stylish men get their ties at Saks. No surprise, considering the selection includes sleek monotone ties from Giorgio Armani, classic Repp stripes from Hart Schaffner Marx, and hip takes on preppy patterns from Hickey Freeman. Our favorite: a sounds-ugly-but-isn’t Canali tie with fuchsia paisleys on a brown ground. It’s a subtle way to let your freak flag fly. 101 W. Fifth St., downtown (513) 421-6800

Handmade Paper: Poeme

In this age of PDAs, text messages, and e-mails, it’s actually nice to feel paper and remember what it was like before “Can you hear me now?” entered the lexicon. However, paper isn’t solely for writing on anymore. Shopkeepers at Poeme know this better than anyone and if the assortment of high-end journals, spindles of wrapping paper, and stacks of invitation paper stock aren’t enough, then ask to see the stash of natural papers. The most unusual is the chocolate-brown tree bark paper which, when soaked in cool water, is malleable and can be manipulated to make lamp shades or twisted around the post of a table lamp. Bonus: You won’t have to worry about using up your minutes. 3446 Michigan Ave., Hyde Park, (513) 321-4999

Wood Shop: Frank Paxton Lumber Company

When quality matters—say you’re crafting a handmade walnut armoire or a cherry wine cabinet—woodworking aficionados trust Frank Paxton Lumber Company. Inside the shop you’ll find veneer, plywood, and moldings, as well as 50 hardwoods (including five exotics), neatly organized in lumber racks with helpful signs listing the woods’ properties. For example: the purple-hued Purpleheart wood hails from Brazil and has a straight to wavy grain. “You can probably find a lot of the exotics online, but I personally like to see my lumber before I buy it,” says Paxton’s contractor Cooper Rutledge. We couldn’t agree more. 7455 Dawson Rd., Madeira, (513) 984-3480

Rock Posters: Powerhouse Factories

Our finest music venues are bedecked with the most creative rock posters this side of The Fillmore, for which we can thank the designers at Powerhouse Factories. With their silkscreen posters for The Heartless Bastards, Lyle Lovett, and others, Powerhouse has reenergized the graphic side of rock. 30 W. Pike St., Covington, (859) 491-4229

Big Sale: Three-Day Boutique Sale

We are lucky to have fabulous boutiques in our city. We’re even luckier that a few times a year a dozen or so of them, including Fetish, Alligator Purse, Sara Benjamin’s, Plum Diore, Suki, Coco’s on Madison, Miss Martha Dress Shop, and SoHo, come together under one roof for the Three-Day Boutique Sale. Earlier this year, Fetish owner Genine Fallon organized the first event, which was hosted at Entertainment Solutions in Rookwood Commons. Though there’s no admission charge, a $5 donation at the door supports a different charity each day. You’ll find designer items like Betsey Johnson dresses and Citizens of Humanity denim marked 40–70 percent off. It’s the closest thing we’ve got to a sample sale, ladies, so sharpen those nails—it could get ugly.

Fabric Store: St. Theresa Textile Trove

When you first enter St. Theresa Textile Trove, be prepared for visual overload. Windows next to the front door are lined with strands of sparkly glass beads. A “Treasure Trunk” spills over with a hodgepodge of fat quarters, quarter-yard sections of fabric that quilters and crafters love. Half a wall near the back of the store is covered with buttons—large and small, plain and fancy, wood and plastic. Shelves are lined with bolts and piles of cloth: Ghanaian tie-dyes, Japanese cottons, African prints, FreeSpirit quilt cottons, and more. Rolls of slick oilcloth in candy-bright colors stand up in cardboard bins in front of whispery rolls of plain and embroidered silks. This trove is truly a treasure. 5846 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, (513) 333-0399

Urban Garden Center: City Roots

City Roots, which Lisa Yunker runs with the help of her sister, Kristen, is an urban oasis, a softening of Vine Street’s hard edges. The shop is also home base for Yunker’s urban landscaping business, but it’s the gardening supplies and the variety of trees and plants that make it a welcome addition to the neighborhood. 1133 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 381-ROOT (7668)

Architectural Antiques: Wooden Nickel Antiques

Where can you find a nine-foot, two-inch cast stone soldier? Or a pine fireplace mantel from the 1820s? Or enough newel posts and spindles to re-staircase an entire neighborhood? Answer: Inside the Wooden Nickel. What started in 1976 with architectural salvage has evolved over the years to specialize in high-ticket items: massive carved bars and bar backs; enormous breakfronts, armoires, and other pieces, some by Cincinnati woodworkers, including Henry Fry. But amid the looming giants in the wood-fragrant showrooms, there are smaller pieces—light fixtures both church fancy and schoolhouse plain, doorknobs and other hardware, tiles, and andirons. Whether you want just a touch of historic charm or a completely period-appropriate interior, this is where you’ll find it. 1400–1414 Central Pkwy. Over-the-Rhine, (513) 241-2985

Crafty Gifts: Indigenous, A Handcrafted Gallery

The list of gift-giving occasions on your calendar gets longer every year, and while gift cards are nice, the urge to pick a particular present remains. A trip through Indigenous, A Handcrafted Gallery should satisfy that urge nicely. The shop stocks works by more than 100 local and not-so-local artists; if it reminds you of A Show of Hands, it’s because owner Diane Christian Budd used to run that Kenwood Towne Centre shop. Pick up one of Joyce Kaufman’s wild mosaic clocks, a bright Susan Mahan block print (we like the one with 16 dogs), beaded memory-wire
bracelets from Anne Straus, and cross some holiday shopping off your list. 2010 Madison Rd., O’Bryonville, (513) 321-3750

Best Logo Apparel

Support your team with the right gear.

UK and U of L: Catbird Seat

The four-month-old Catbird Seat has Commonwealth rooting interests covered with its large selection of UK and Louisville gear. But there’s a twist: The juniors’ and young men’s sections serve up school colors in very nontraditional styles. Pink polka-dots, anyone? 1737 Monmouth St., Newport, (859) 431-5053

Pros: Koch Sporting Goods

Need to find an orange Houshmandzadeh jersey for your boyfirend? Or a pink one? Koch Sporting Goods can hook you up. They sell NFL replica jerseys at three price points ($69.99, $94.99, and $279.99), and you can find any player you want. Come baseball season, they’ll have Reds jerseys, too. 131 W. Fourth St., downtown, (513) 621-2352

XU and UC: CS Crable Factory Outlet

These embroidered oxfords, polos, sweaters, and turtlenecks make spirit gear work appropriate. The CS Crable Factory Outlet is open every weekend from October through the end of December, and this year they’ve opened a second location in the Del Fair Shopping Center. 5573 Spellmire Dr., West Chester, (513) 942-5328

High School: Kroger

Attention all you high school sports junkies: Supporters of Comets and Camels, among others, can deck themselves out with T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, and sweatpants from Kroger. A portion of the proceeds goes back to the schools—in this case, Mason and Campbell County.

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