Best of the City 2011

New Men’s Boutique: 45/46 XY

Listen up, single men: If you can make your home smell as good as this Hyde Park menswear shop, your odds for a romantic encounter will go way up. 45/46 XY is the new source for an “updated traditional” take on gentlemen’s accoutrements: Customized and made-to-measure suits from Hart Schaffner Marx and Hickey Freeman, a shoe department to rival the big-name stores, plus accessories, jeans, and sportswear. And they have candles.  Manly candles. Hyde Park, (513) 257-0259

Baking Supplies: Cincinnati Cake & Candy Supplies

Whether you’re making cake pops for junior’s birthday, need a new fondant smoother, or just want to make Santa-shaped lollipops, Cincinnati Cake & Candy Supplies has everything you need to decorate, transport and make your treats the best they’ve ever tasted. Hard-to-find flavoring oils? Check. Cookie cutters for every season and celebration? Check. Sprinkles and chocolate drops in a rainbow of shades? Check. They’ve even got disco dust, an edible glitter that will make your cupcakes practically glow.  Reading,

High-End Lingerie Shop: La Silhouette

Plane-jane underthings have their place, but not at La Silhouette. Britt Cruikshank stocks her refined Madeira boutique with lacy top-shelf confections (bustiers, bras, panties, and more) from La Perla and Aubade guaranteed to make any girl feel like a princess. Drama queens, please turn your attention to the Dynasty-worthy embroidered nightgowns and chiffon robes from Jane Woolrich. All this high style does come with a higher price, but as the commercial says, we’re worth it. Madeira, (513) 272-8100

Vintage Hats: Talk of the Town

Talk of the Town has what you might call a hat room. Shoes, coats, and purses fill the racks and shelves, but hats line every available vertical surface and manage to steal the show. An entire wall of pillbox hats faces another lined with fedoras, and tree stands filled with cloches, turbans, and wide-brimmed beauties remind us that hats—from the most humble to the most splendid—were once a way of life. Reading, (513) 563-8844

Women’s Fitness Apparel: Bob Roncker’s Running Spot

Ladies, Bob Roncker’s Running Spot has all the gear you need to suit up, work out, and hit the coffee shop for your favorite post-exercise reward. They carry a great selection of sports bras including Moving Comfort’s popular “Fiona” and Zensah’s seamless bras in fun colors like neon pink, purple and royal blue. They also offer several styles of minimalist running shoes like Saucony’s Kinvara and Brooks’s Pure Project. Says store manager Matt Frondorf,“You can find a lot of our products elsewhere, but what you get in our store is service, information and first-hand experience.” We’re sold. O’Bryonville, (513) 321-3006

Homebrew Supplies: Listermann Manufacturing Co.

Two decades ago, Listermann Manufacturing Co. started producing Phil’s Philler, a nifty device that Dan Listermann invented to put beer into bottles. Over the years, the company has shifted from manufacturing to retail, selling hops, malts, and yeasts, plus kegging and bottling equipment—everything you need to make your own beer. Whether you’re just getting started, moving from extracts to whole grains, or simply tweaking a recipe, Dan is the man to show you how it’s done. Evanston,

Knitting Supplies: Knit On!

It’s a small world of textiles at Newport’s Knit On!, where two enormous vaults behind the register hint at the store’s former life as a bank. The walls are lined with rainbows of Mongolian cashmere, Peruvian baby alpaca wool, Danish wool, Turkish mohair, Greek and Japanese yarn, and hand-spun, kettle-dyed pure wool from Uruguay. You’ll also find racks of crocheting and knitting needles, books, and other supplies. Shop-run classes help you put it all together. Newport,

Local Graphic Tees: Atypical Sole

OTR (Original Thought Required) boutique owner James Marable’s Atypical Sole brand perfectly represents—yet is a cut above—the belching graphic T-shirt market overtaking stores like Marable’s with multiple brands. He had boxes of his shirts in a closet at home before he realized they needed to be seen. They are urban elegance, smart minus the alec. They co-mingle perfectly beside likewise DIY/ghetto fab brands like Instrument, Soapbox Tees, AyDee, Fancy Yancey, and Floyd From Ohio. And that’s saying something to a T. Over-the-Rhine,

Cymbal Shop: Cymbal House

This spring, Erce Gokhan opened the Cymbal House, one of the few stores anywhere exclusively selling cymbals—with about 1,000 handmade varieties in stock. Why so many? You can’t tune a cymbal, so finding one that matches your sound often requires a lot of crashing around. Gokhan has already found a following: A number of noted local percussionists (and Mike Malinin of the Goo Goo Dolls) punctuate their drum solos with sonic splashes from his cymbals. Covington,

Greenest Rain Barrels: Greener Stock

If run-of the mill rain barrels won’t cut it in your garden, Greener Stock has just the thing to one-up your eco-friendly quotient: reclaimed whiskey barrels. They’ve also got repurposed food-grade plastic barrels ready to contain all those April showers and pretty urn-style rain barrels that come with a planter on top for your petunias. With decent prices, friendly service, and all the necessary accessories, all you’ll need is the rain. Columbia-Tusculum,

Leather Goods: Appointments

If you’re not a cowboy or a biker, it can be difficult to find stylish leather around these parts. For leather that you wear—shoes, belts, jackets—department stores are fine. But for a businessman’s other leather needs—wallets, briefcases, organizers—we prefer Appointments in Carew Tower. They have top-notch offerings from Bosca and Johnston & Murphy, and the expertise to help you choose. One helpful tip: Bring the things that will go in the bag to make sure they fit. Downtown,

Thrift Store: Valley Thrift, Evendale

If Valley Thrift in Evendale isn’t thrift store heaven, it’s as close as you’ll get on this earthly plane. Bright, clean, and well-organized, there are aisles and aisles of widely varied, bargain-priced merchandise to peruse. Our spins through the racks have netted great finds, including Frette pillow shams and a vintage Coach folio. And we didn’t even get a chance to explore the book rack, the housewares section, and the small furniture items available. Guess we’ll have to make a return trip. Evendale, (513) 563-2949

Ethnic Grocery: Cincinnati CAM Asia Supermarket

You long to make your grandmother’s uterus sausage recipe, but your neighborhood Kroger doesn’t carry pig uterus? No worries. Cincinnati CAM Asia Supermarket has it covered. From whole cow tongue to pig liver and intestines to a bag of blood (in the freezer section, naturally), your offal dreams are at your fingertips. But there’s much more: fresh dates, quail eggs, magnolia ice cream, kitchenware, cosmetics…as it says on the package of our favorite rice crackers: Want Want! Evendale, (513) 733-1828

Magic Shop: Haines House of Cards

Housed in a nondescript white building across from the Norwood UDF’s iconic giant cow, Haines House of Cards looks more black market than black magic. But inside, sizable glass cases full of everything from instructional videos to fake puke and trick playing cards (they make these on site) will convince any skeptic that Haines is indeed legit. Professionals frequent the place, often performing spontaneous mini-magic shows and lessons. Even the checkout guy does card tricks! Norwood, (513) 531-6548


Build-a-Best: Gift List

Dad: Orange Fuzz Shaving Gear

Orange Fuzz—the “artisan cosmetics” crafters in Northside—packages luscious products such as their Guinness & Cedarwood soap and spiced citrus aftershave, along with a boar bristle shaving brush, inside a vintage wooden cigar box.

Cat: Recyclabowls

Fur in your sweater drawer? Give Fluff her own ready-made nest. College Hill homemaker Beth Kindle’s cat beds are called Recyclabowls—simple, high-sided coiled baskets made from old sweaters and other secondhand garments. Purrfect for a long winter’s nap. Available at Pet Wants,  Over-the-Rhine,

Kid Brother: Hip Huts

No need to strip sheets from the bed or swipe sofa cushions. Preschool teacher Nancy Stelzer makes colorful teepees for indoor fun. Hip Huts are lightweight (the supports are PVC tubing), easy to stow (they fold like an umbrella), and sized right for kids’ make-believe.

Mom: Julz Jewelry

No woman can have too many pieces of “Where’d you get that?” jewelry. And that’s what Oakley artist Judy Scheurer Evans and her brother, Michael Scheurer, create. Their earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made from vintage rhinestones, trade beads, Austrian crystal, and antique baubles are guaranteed to get noticed.

Housewarming Gift: Sarah Horn Ceramics

Ceramicist Sarah Horn decorates tiles with delicate architectural images of Cincinnati. Arches, chimney pots, rooftops—the landscapes of a lovely place to welcome someone home.

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