Best of the City 2009

Photograph by Ryan Kurtz


Seven years ago, the Richter & Phillips Company jumped into the 21st century with The site sells many of the same 11 brands they offer in the store (including Omega, Citizen, Gucci, Seiko), but if you want a brand the company doesn’t sell, just shoot them an e-mail and they’ll get you a price you can live with. 

Souvenir Shop

The name says it all. Nestled in the heart of Tower Place Mall downtown, the I Love Cincinnati Shoppe is dedicated to—you guessed it—all things Cincinnati. This one-stop-tourist-shop is bursting with the usual suspects (Museum Center postcards, Flying Pig shot glasses, Fountain Square magnets), plus finer novelties for the seasoned Cincinnatian, such as Bengals jerseys and framed pictures of Great American Ball Park. Can’t pick a favorite? The “I Love Cincinnati” T-shirt is always a classic. (513) 381-4401

Etsy Vendor

Brick-and-mortar retail shops are sooo passé. The DIY method offered by has paved the way for homegrown vendors to ply their wares, including Leah Durig’s The Letter G. The Pleasant Ridge resident trolls gem shows around the country for items with which to make her fabulously flirty necklaces and earrings. “As a designer, I’d consider myself personal,” says Durig, who also runs Head Case by G (, a line of floral hair accessories. “The most important thing is to bring out your quirks or your dark side or your very feminine side. That’s my philosophy.” 


It doesn’t matter if you’re a local guitar newbie or a touring Joe Walsh—when you’re in town and want a guitar, you go to Mike’s Music. Since 1993, Mike Reeder has operated his candyland of guitars (mostly used) in a slightly musty three-story building a few doors down from Bogart’s. From a $50 Harmony to a $239,000 1959 Les Paul Standard, if you can’t find it here, Mike’s probably has it available through his Web site. Five years ago he opened another shop in Covington, but the Corryville location is one of a kind. (513) 281-4900

Board Games

If the playing surface is a board, Board Walk Hobby Shop has you covered, whether you prefer battling the demons of Middle Earth or classic games such as Clue or Monopoly. The biggest challenge could be choosing a game from the hundreds of options, many you’ve probably never heard of. There’s even a shelf devoted to vintage games. Anyone for a round of Blitzkrieg? (513) 871-2110

Smoke Shop

Pat Coldiron, owner of Cincinnati Tobacconist, remembers ferrying chewing tobacco out to baseball players when they’d pull up in front of her classic downtown smoke shop, which has been located in the old Enquirer building since the height of the Big Red Machine era. Today, Coldiron, along with her parents Bill and Merle Buck, cater to a diverse crowd of judges, lawyers, politicians, and downtown workers who come in for the selection of Opus X and Padron Anniversary cigars, pipes and pipe tobacco, smokes, and freshly roasted coffee beans. The antique, quarter-round dark oak cabinetry and the smell of coffee and tobacco make this place feel like your grandparent’s house, even if it isn’t. (513) 621-9932

Vintage Eyeglasses

It should come as no surprise that third generation optician Cliff York has a huge cache of never-worn vintage frames at York Vision in Kenwood. They’re not on display, but ask and ye shall receive. Bejeweled harlequins by Tura; pink round frames from Polo; and glasses from Ray Winston of Sir Winston Eyewear (Elton John and Stevie Wonder were clients), are just a few examples. Says York, “We have everything from the ’30s to yesterday.” (513) 891-2020

Exercise Shoes

Whether you’re novice or pro, get to Bob Roncker’s Running Spot for superior selection, expert fittings, and endless running resources. With shoes for runners, walkers, sprinters, trekkers, and hikers alike, Bob’s bounty includes familiar brands like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance, plus specialty brands like Keen and Merrell. Your feet will thank you. 

Art Supplies

Suder’s Art Store in OTR opened in 1924 as a frame shop and gallery for local artists, but in the decades since it has become a one-stop destination for artists and craftspeople of all sorts. For a visual jolt, check out the racks of colored pencils. Who knew blue had so many hues? (513) 241-0800

Native Plants

The Delightful nursery at Greenfield Plant Farm carries a great selection of native plants well adapted not only to our climate and clay soil, but to our wildlife. Spicebush, a native woodsy shrub, is the only host plant to the Spicebush Swallowtail—a gorgeous inky butterfly. Berry-loving birds will come for the bright red drupes in the fall. (513) 624-8876

Educational Toys

Debbie Bartlett started selling Thomas train tables online as a hobby in 2000. Nine years later, it’s become big business. She and her husband Tim carry more than 5,000 toys in their 15,000-square-foot Clermont County warehouse. In addition to being one of the top five Thomas Web retailers in the U.S., carries tons of educational and environmentally friendly toys from Melissa & Doug, Green Toys, Ever Earth, Plan Toys, Haba, and Imagiplay as well as mod kid furniture from Ecotots. 

Work Boots

When you’re looking for boots that can get dirty and stand up to the demands of a job site (steel toes, anyone?), head to Boot Country in Burlington or Sharonville and get yourself—and heck, the whole family—properly outfitted. They’ve got every brand from Tony Lama to Justin to Carhartt to Harley-Davidson. And yes, they have “dress boots,” too. 

Men’s Shirts

Why are we so impressed by the men’s shirt selection at Nordstrom? Is it because swank labels (Canali, Hugo Boss) are only a stone’s throw from hipper haberdashery (Ben Sherman, 7 Diamonds)? That you can find clothes for the club (Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren) or to go clubbing in (Zanerobe, Scotch & Soda)? That their own line of dress shirts (Nordstrom and John W. Nordstrom) are sharp, not fusty? That you can even get a faux vintage Chewbacca T-shirt? All of the above. (513) 699-4190

Scooter Accessories

Five years ago Metro Scooter owner Dave Rueve knew that distant buzzing sound could mean only one thing: an invasion of scooter enthusiasts was afoot. In 2006 he created a full-blown showroom and filled it with scooters and their requisite mod-ish accessories. Trick out your scooter and yourself—Rueve is fully stocked with Bell helmets, riding gloves, shades, luggage racks, wind screens, protective covers, and Stebel horns so the rest of the world knows you’re coming, too. Beep-beep! (513) 631-6637

Women’s Belts

Calling all accessory aficionados: Anthropologie’s belt collection is a must-see. From boho-braided to bronze-studded leather, super-sleek skinnys to multi-colored cinchers, this hearty selection satisfies a myriad of outfit needs. Feeling funky? Try the wood-fastened Mosaic Beaded Belt on for size. Best of all, these chic styles come at affordable prices. With many options hovering in the $30 range, this is one belt that doesn’t need tightening in hard economic times. (513) 731-6424


When it comes to luxury homegoods, the crystal selection at Closson’s is divine. Fine European glass from Moser, William Yeoward, Orrefors, and Vietri are all represented. Modern lovers will like Nambe and Alessi (their martini glass may just be perfection). But for everyday water, juice, milk, and Morelein vessels, head to The Glass Barn. There are lots of familiar silhouettes here (think diners, steak joints, and pancake houses) but with prices on Gibraltar glasses starting at $0.89 and Looney Tunes jelly jar glasses at $0.39 each, who cares if they break? Closson’s, (513) 762-5500; The Glass Barn, (513) 733-4121

Art Pottery

The late 19th and early 20th century Arts and Crafts movement produced some of the most beautiful and coveted pottery in existence, including wares from our own Rookwood Pottery. Although much is now in the hands of museums or private collectors, Cincinnati Art Galleries is one of the country’s leading dealers in works from this period. In addition to their gallery inventory, CAG conducts major auctions of art pottery and art glass each June and November. (513) 381-2128

Women’s Size Selection

If you’ve got a non-standard physique, you know there’s nothing more frustrating than hearing a clerk sniff, “Yes, we carry that size…online.” What part of “hard to fit” don’t you understand, honey? If I could buy a pair of pants without trying them on, I. Wouldn’t. Be. Here. Well, praise be to Macy’s at Kenwood Towne Centre for consistently carrying a deep selection of petites, women’s, and plus-sizes by the likes of Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Jones New York, et al. Now—which way to the dressing room? (513) 745-5380

Fake Christmas Trees

Frontgate’s artificial Christmas trees look so real you’ll catch friends and family sniffing the boughs and squeezing the needles. The local home and garden catalog retailer offers a forest of choices, but such convenient realism sports a hefty price tag: Seven- to 10-foot faux Fraser Firs and Colorado Blue Spruces go for $595–$1,095; a 14-foot Scotch Pine tops out at $4,500. Priceless perks: No chopping, hauling, or brown needles impaling your big toe come January. 


Though some might relegate earrings to a supporting role in their wardrobe, we believe the bejeweled orbs and dainty silver hoops found at The Pink Box have the potential to be the shining stars. With dozens and dozens of pairs to choose from—like Gorjana’s ornate, lace-like golden beauties, faceted emerald-cut crystal posts in a spectrum of colors, or a dangly grape cluster of lustrous topaz and pearl facets strung onto chain—we trust you will happily let your accessories steal the show. Hyde Park, (513) 531-0032; Madeira, (513) 271-7900



You can search your sofa for the change it costs to fill your belly with a plate-full of scrambled eggs, bacon, and Swedish potatoes at IKEA. Just $.99, served 9:30–11 am daily. (513) 779-7100

Theater Tickets

Doing their part for economic stimulus, Know Theatre of Cincinnati is slashing their $22 ticket price to $12 if you purchase in advance. (513) 300-5669

Happy Hour

Treat yourself to $5 pizzas, half-price apps, and $4 cocktails at Palomino. “Happy hour” prices are all day, every day in the posh, Fountain Square-facing lounge—which means it’s always 5 o’clock here. (513) 381-1300


A couple bucks for Brontë. Spare change for Chaucer. The over-stuffed aisles at Half Price Books are packed with second-hand treasures at—yes, really—half price. 

Home Goods

Don’t mind the beeping forklifts at Home Emporium—that’s the sound of a working warehouse with liquidation prices. Find materials for remodeling or decorative needs for kitchens, baths, and yards. Virtually anything—including the kitchen sink. (513) 841-9150

* Please note that the information listed in this section was accurate at the time the issue went to print in 2009 and that addresses, menu items, company status, etc., may have changed. Please contact the companies to confirm details.

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