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  • BEST BOOKSTORE (NEW)

    Micawber's Books

    Though both Minneapolis and St. Paul's "Most Literate Cities" standings slipped in '09, from first and third to third and seventh, respectively, it sure as hell wasn't for lack of commerce. The Twin Cities are filthy with bookstores, and we mostly give 'em the love they need. We even still patronize independently owned, neighborhood generalist shops. Granted, none has anywhere… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE (USED)

    The Electric Fetus

    There are used CD stores that have larger selections than the Fetus, but in an age when most heavily involved music fans get their music online (legally or not), selection isn't really the point. A CD store isn't a conduit for acquiring music anymore, so much as a mecca of local music culture. Shopping at Electric Fetus, you can bump… More >>
  • BEST THRIFT STORE

    Animal Ark Thrift and Pet Store

    At some stores, thrift shopping can feel like sorting through the debris of abandoned storage spaces and foreclosed homes. Sure, treasures can be found, but they're few and far between, hidden among so much junk it hardly seems worth the time needed to find them. At Animal Ark, the browsing experience is more like searching the attics of frugal but… More >>
  • BEST NATURAL FOODS GROCERY

    Seward Co-op Grocery & Deli

    Ever since Seward Co-op moved into its gleaming, fluorescent-green new digs last year, it has threatened to ruin the reputation of natural-food groceries. Until then, co-ops were known as cramped, dingy stores with nightmarish parking. But Seward's 13,000-square-foot facility feels almost like a supermarket, with wide aisles inside and a no-hassle parking lot that by itself is a reason to… More >>
  • BEST GAMING STORE

    Source Comics & Games - CLOSED

    Welcome to gaming nirvana—at least if your game is the paper-and-pencil, tabletop, card-flipping, or dice-chucking type. On any given day you can find folks pawing through thousands of Magic: The Gathering singles searching for the right piece to the winning combination, exploring the latest gaming imports from Germany and beyond, or gathered in the back to meet on the tabletop… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY USED VIDEO GAMES

    GameStop

    Oh sure, Gamestop is pretty corporate—the chain dominates the landscape from coast to coast—but for a video gamer looking for a deal, it's the best bet in town. With a location in seemingly every burg in the area, one is never far away. For folks who have upgraded to the 360/PS3/Wii stage, even new games—sometimes just a week or two… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY VINYL

    Treehouse Records

    As the brass at big-box stores trip over their tasseled loafers trying to parse a phenom they don't get—and far savvier staffers at the likes of Cheapo and the Fetus play furious games of catch-up—the petroleum-based, analog audio software advantage resides with retailers who never abandoned it. Roadrunner, Vital, Eclipse, Fifth Element—notice a pattern? Single-store entities, one and all, and… More >>
  • BEST YARN STORE

    The Yarnery

    The Yarnery on Grand Avenue is in an old house, which is fitting, since no other knitting store in the Twin Cities (of which there are a crap-ton) makes beginning and experienced knitters feel so at home. To enter the house is to immerse yourself in a world of yarn possibilities and innovative techniques—every nook and cranny in the store… More >>
  • BEST LIQUOR STORE

    South Lyndale Liquors

    For years Uptown and south Minneapolis liquor stores have been merely adequate. For every triumph (great beer selection, convenient location), there is a massive failure (no parking, doesn't accept credit cards, staff is too high). This is why we appreciate South Lyndale Liquors so much. While Lyndale Avenue was being renovated, the store gave itself a facelift as well, knocking… More >>
  • BEST MUSIC STORE

    Guitar Center

    Sure, the notion of whiling away an afternoon at your neighborhood consignment shop might harbor a certain nostalgic charm. But if you're actually looking to buy an instrument, price and/or selection almost surely dominate your agenda. Specialty stores aside, with music, bigger pretty much always equals better on both counts. Hence the appeal of local indie colossus Groth Music and… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE (USED)

    Magers & Quinn

    Twin Cities book lovers are blessed with an embarrassment of riches. Better still, lit junkies without, you know, actual riches have a slew of discount dealers at their disposal, so there's no need to sell plasma or skip a meal to stay flush with reading material. Among the options for bargain-minded bookworms, one stands tall above the rest: the mighty… More >>
  • BEST MALL

    Mall of America

    We're well aware that for most urban Minnesotans, it's cool to hate on the Mall of America. It's a four-million-square-foot behemoth of rampant consumerism, our country's ultimate shrine to the evils of capitalism, a 500-store temple where the unwashed masses pay homage to the almighty dollar. But MoA haters conveniently ignore one crucial truth: This is exactly what a mall… More >>
  • BEST SHOE REPAIR

    George's Shoes & Skate Repair

    The store on Grand Avenue has been there for more than 30 years, but the George family has been in the shoe business for over a century. The family of Lebanese immigrants opened their first American shop in North Dakota in 1916, expanding to Minnesota in 1943. The family pride in its history shows in the service: Owner Jerry George… More >>
  • BEST PET STORE

    Chuck and Don's Pet Outlet

    Gone are the days of shopping at sketchy pet departments in the back of Sears or Montgomery Wards. Pet lovers want to make sure their animals are getting the best in nutrition and products. Locally owned and operated for the past two decades, Chuck and Don's shows its love through continual efforts to raise money for pet-related charities and rescue… More >>
  • BEST GARDEN CENTER

    Mother Earth Gardens

    A Minnesota growing season is akin to a sprint. There's so little time to work with that the virtue of patience is forgotten in the spring rush to get seeds and seedlings into the ground. Sometimes we jump the gun and lose much of our investment to late-season (but, we must admit, predictable) frosts and freezes. Mother Earth Gardens helps… More >>
  • BEST CHILDREN'S BOOKSTORE

    Wild Rumpus Books

    If you take your bookstores the same way you take your lunch break—predictable and safe—then the cats and chickens wandering about at Wild Rumpus may not be your Shakespeare-in-waiting kid's cup of tea. On the other hand, if you're up for a surprise or two, give the youngsters a gentle shove through the little purple door to Wild Rumpus Books… More >>
  • BEST CLOTHING STORE (WOMEN)

    Opitz Outlet

    Here's a true-life example of how you can spend $100 on an entire bag of clothing at Opitz that would have otherwise cost $1,500 retail: an unbelievably supple $600 MARC NY leather jacket for $50, a $115 sequined hoodie (don't judge) for $11.50, a pair of olive leather boots for $10, and a little black Versace dress complete with serial… More >>
  • BEST SALON/SPA

    Ivy Spa Club

    A lot of local establishments somehow manage to take the "ah" out of "spa." Book a traditional Swedish massage and the usual routine is this: Take clothes off and place awkwardly on chair. Sneak between sheets and make sure nothing embarrassing is hanging out. Wait for your masseuse's tentative knock, and then brace for the cold massage oil. By the… More >>
  • BEST CAMERA STORE

    National Camera Exchange

    When facing the choice of where to buy a camera, customers have no shortage of options. Big-box stores like Target and Walmart sell lots of point-and-shoot models, Best Buy has a wide selection, and even discount clubs are shilling them now. But because buying a camera will have ramifications for photo albums, Facebook pages, and home videos for years to… More >>
  • BEST TOBACCONIST

    Golden Leaf Tobacco

    Too often tobacco shops are geared toward folks just looking to pick up a pack of Marlboros or a crappy glass pipe—not a place true fans of America's carcinogen would be seen frequenting. The Golden Leaf, on the other hand, offers a champagne smoke-shop experience. Purchases are made on a solid bar-style wooden counter lined with big glass jars containing… More >>
  • BEST SCIENCE-FICTION BOOKSTORE

    Dreamhaven Books & Comics

    After decades of operation, multiple locations, and changes in emphasis, Dreamhaven soldiers on. The key to the bookstore's continued survival—no, evolution—is owner Greg Ketter's ability to follow his own passions and let the audience for those passions find him. As it always has, Dreamhaven caters to the genre fan, from racks of recent science-fiction and fantasy paperbacks to limited-edition hardcovers… More >>
  • BEST CLOTHING STORE (MEN)

    Heimie's Haberdashery

    Keeping up with the newest trends in men's fashion is less difficult than in women's, but even for the image-conscious it ain't easy. Heimie's Haberdashery makes sure even the fashiontards among us look great when we're putting on the Ritz. The small space is stacked floor to ceiling with suits, hats, shoes, shirts, and all kinds of gentlemen's accoutrements like… More >>
  • BEST HAIRCUT

    Moxie

    Inside either Moxie location it is not unusual to see a client getting a mohawk shaped into shark-fin perfection sitting next to a businesswoman getting her neatly cut layers blown out straight and glossy as silk, while in the next chair over a slick boy with jeans, cowboy shirt, and wallet chain gets a not-too-long, not-too-short man-style. Whichever way you… More >>
  • BEST ART SUPPLIES

    MCAD Art Cellar

    Life is expensive; making art is really expensive. MCAD's Art Cellar cuts the pain of being a starving artist by just a little—and you don't have to be a student to shop there. The store is smaller than other local favorites like Wet Paint in St. Paul, but it's got a decent selection of pastels, pencils, and paints, and the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A PIECE

    Clown Glass

    Minnesota's marijuana enthusiasts are likely familiar with headshops of a somewhat unprofessional variety—those soaked in patchouli incense and staffed by filthy-dredded hippies hocking tie-dye hemp shirts and psychedelic posters. However, those lucky enough to be customers of Clown Glass are treated to a different experience. Clown's interior sports classy hardwood floors and large glass display cases illuminated by well-placed overhead… More >>
  • BEST MYSTERY BOOKSTORE

    Uncle Edgar's Mystery Bookstore

    Named for the first grandmaster of mystery, Uncle Edgar's, like its adjacent sister store, Uncle Hugo's, looks like it's been recently hit by a tornado. Used paperbacks and hardcovers are crammed into bookcases and spread in piles on the floor. It doesn't take long to see the order in this chaos. In fact, here is a veritable clearinghouse of the… More >>
  • BEST CLOTHING STORE (KIDS)

    Savers

    Expeditions to Savers in 2009 yielded such treasures as a Carmelo Anthony Nuggets jersey in a boys' size, dELiAs T-shirts in girl tween proportions, and some ass-kicking cowboy boots for the adult in attendance. None of the kids' items topped five bucks, which means you can clothe the moppets in style while avoiding empty-wallet syndrome (and the related homicidal impulses… More >>
  • BEST TATTOO PARLOR

    Acme Tattoo

    When getting inked, it's always reassuring to have an experienced person doing the drawing. And although the Twin Cities has many respected tattoo artists and a handful of parlors with sterling reputations, Don Nolan stands out as the face of the tattoo scene. Nolan and his shop, Acme Tattoo in St. Paul, have been in the tat biz for decades,… More >>
  • BEST OUTDOORS STORE

    Midwest Mountaineering

    You've got to love the can-do spirit of a business that puts "mountaineering" in its name in a state with no real mountains. But hey, if Lindsey Vonn can get her start in Minnesota, we can too. Midwest Mountaineering is friendly and down-to-earth—none of that annoying attitude some gearhead shops emit—and totally serious about the outdoor life. The store has… More >>
  • BEST STORE FOR SEX TOYS

    Smitten Kitten

    When some people hear the words "sex shop" they automatically think of novelty, over-the-top sex toys like four-foot dildos and blow-up dolls with strange plastic holes. While those might be good for a laugh, the folks at Smitten Kitten aren't joking when it comes to sexual arousal. The small boutique of erotica in Uptown has become an institution for people… More >>
  • BEST COMIC BOOK STORE

    Big Brain Comics

    Forget the comic-book store clichés, so perfectly captured on The Simpsons—shoddy storefronts, cluttered aisles, clientele of sweaty, nervous dudes afraid to speak to one another, the whole enterprise overseen by corpulent hucksters rooking 12-year-old boys out of their allowance money. The industry crash in the 1990s, coupled with the economic catastrophes of today, have thinned the herd. The survivors are… More >>
  • BEST BOUTIQUE

    Picky Girl

    The name says it all. Picky Girl is the perfect boutique for the fashion-conscious woman in her 20s or 30s who likes looking stylish but not like a hipster, and who finds mainstream chain stores a little too boring for her creative self. Picky Girl has an East Coast feel, hitting that sweet spot between trendy and classic. Pieces are… More >>
  • BEST GIFT SHOP

    I Like You

    It's easy to like a gift shop that already likes you before you even spend a dime. Plus, this plucky little den of delights with the brightly painted exterior walls and indoor Astroturf floor is quite possibly one of the happiest stores around. I Like You specializes in "small things for a prettier life" created by local talent and independent… More >>
  • BEST BIKE SHOP

    Freewheel Bike

    Few places in America can make the average person feel more uncomfortable than bicycle shops. Slung over the register are emaciated men with shaved legs, tattooed and surly, discussing their recent transition to friction-shifting. They scoff if a customer has never heard of a barrel adjuster or doesn't know that Aero-spokes are sooo 2008. Thankfully, the good people at Freewheel… More >>
  • BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE

    Sex World

    Remember the good old days when you would go digging through your parents' closet, hoping to stumble across one of your dad's "secret" porn videos? Those days are long gone. Thanks to this whole "internet" thing, you have unlimited access to adult entertainment day or night. But what about the purists looking for DVDs (or dare I say it, VHS… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE (NEW)

    The Electric Fetus

    Yes, the store smells fantastic, a blend of hippie soaps and patchouli and incense that sticks to a shopper's hair for hours after leaving, and yes, the creaking floorboards and exposed-brick walls and posters make it a beautiful and homey place to kill an afternoon. But the ambiance of the Electric Fetus is only icing on the cake. The real… More >>
  • BEST LINGERIE

    Frederick's of Hollywood

    When it comes to lingerie shopping, it's easy to get caught up in the hype. Some stores are packed full of pleather nurses' outfits, bad stripper shoes, and really bad schoolgirl costumes. But when it comes to buying actual lingerie, you need quality and style rather than bad porn parody. Frederick's offers plenty of variety for the more conservative woman… More >>
  • BEST TOY STORE

    Wonderment

    Wonderment is a local business run by three women—Lisa MacMartin, Zuzanne Fenner, and Joyce Olson-Kapell—who met while volunteering at their children's Waldorf School, an educational program that stresses creativity as a crucial factor in child development. You can see this influence throughout Wonderment, which is loaded with toys, games, and crafts that stress imagination and social interaction over video games… More >>
  • BEST SPORTING GOODS

    Dick's Sporting Goods

    While we champion old-school indies such as Steichen's in St. Paul, no Twin Cities sporting goods shop—corporate or independent—can go toe-to-toe with the diversity of Dick's. The Richfield locale (one of six metro and seven statewide stores) is especially impressive. The well-staffed, multi-level layout is sharply designed and offers something for every athletic and leisure pursuit, including mainstream (baseball, hoops,… More >>

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