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Big Book of Cleveland: The Shopping 

Scene readers share their picks for the best shopping in town

Clevelanders are needful sorts, and our shopping jones takes us from upscale "fashion malls" to thrift-store basements.

In the pages that follow, we direct you to some of the city's top shops, including comic book vendors, record stores, and book sellers, as selected by Scene readers in our annual Best of Cleveland poll.

Remember: Whether you're in the market for a revolutionary treatise or an inner tube, Clevelanders are always happy to tell you where to go.

North Coast Nostalgia

North Coast sells more than comics. You'll also find trading cards, collectible figures, and

Star Wars paraphernalia here. But it's all of those comic books — new releases, back issues, graphic novels — that will unleash your inner (or maybe not-so-inner) geek.

5853 Ridge Rd., Parma,

440-845-7040

5120 Mayfield Rd., Lyndhurst,

440-442-1986

Carol & John's Comic Shop

If you've ever been inside a comic book shop, you know it's damn near impossible to find what you're looking for. (Geeks are so messy.) The first thing you'll notice about Carol & John's at Kamms Corners — apart from Winston, the frisky feline who will greet you upon entering — is how meticulously organized everything is. Our favorite section lines the long counter that stretches across the front of the store. That's where you'll find tons of little toys, ranging from the Simpsons dressed for Halloween to the Japanese what-the-hell-is-he? Domo to hams smoking tiny cigarettes. Geek out!

17462 Lorain Ave., 216-252-0606, cnjcomics.com

Banyan Tree

Without fashionable local boutiques like Banyan Tree, where would the fashionable locals shop? Thank goodness we don’t have to answer that question: The independently owned Banyan Tree continues to anchor its Tremont block with a trendy mix of giftware, décor items, and uber-chic clothing and accessories. 2242 Professor Ave., 216-241-1209, shopbanyantree.com

Big Fun

No matter what you do for a living, we all remember what we once did for a living: blew up Star Wars action figures in the sandbox and brushed the hair of 4,305 My Little Ponies. We all hold fast to fond dreams of our childhood playthings, and Big Fun still makes those dreams come true. From the flagship store on Coventry to the western outpost on Clifton, Steve Presser's novelty and collectible empire is the comfort food of Cleveland commerce: a heaping helping of happiness from days we can't quite live again but surely will never forget.

1814 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216-371-43861512 Clifton Blvd., 216-631-4386

bigfunbigfun.com

Mac's Backs

There are more than paperbacks at this venerable Coventry shop. Mac's specialty is indie books (memoirs, bios, mind-blowing fiction, revolutionary treatises), and especially those penned by local writers. Best of all, many of those authors make in-store appearances to talk about their work.

1820 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-2665,

macsbacks.com

Visible Voice

When an independent bookstore focuses heavily on themes such as music, art, and politics, it's bound to inspire a passionate following. By being located in the heart of energetic Tremont, Visible Voice all but ensured its place as a magnet for the neighborhood's like-minded folks. But this place is so much more than books: There's a wine bar, a garden courtyard, an upstairs meeting space. There are the obligatory book signings and poetry readings, but also wine tastings and art exhibits, with work scattered throughout the store. There are musical performances — including a free summer concert series in the courtyard offering a welcome blend of jazz, folk, and blues — and even a monthly feminist performance-art open mic. When's the last time the big box served up this brand of stimulation?

1023 Kenilworth Ave., 216-961-0084,

visiblevoicebooks.com

Ambiance

Valentine's Day doesn't have to come just once a year when you stock up on goodies at this locally owned "store for lovers." Pick up a pack of Stiff Ones enhancement pills for him, a bendable vibrator for her, and some strawberry-kiwi lube for both of you. And be sure to check out the line of sex furniture too. You'll never look at a spinning sex swing the same way again.

Various locations; ambiance.com

Rozi's Wine House

Family owned and operated Rozi's Wine House has been dishing out great products and friendly service since 1939. Their longevity is no surprise: The beer inventory is mind-blowing, the wine selection is fab, and the almost limitless variety of gift baskets has been helping Clevelanders say "Happy Birthday," "Congratulations," and "I'm sorry I puked in your rose bushes" for more than 70 years.

14900 Detroit Ave., Lakewood,

216-221-1119, rozis.com

Minotti's Wine & Spirits

Because sometimes in life you need beer and sometimes you need more, Minotti's earns the top prize when it comes to liquor stores. A West Side institution five stores strong, every Minotti's stocks a dizzying assortment of beer and wine, but is also a state-licensed liquor store. Weekly wine tastings and regular events help make each raised glass a cause for celebration.

Five locations across Cleveland's West Side, minottis.com

Voodoo Monkey Tattoo

Even when we’re not looking for a lifetime discount on grilled cheese sammies or drooling over Michael Symon’s porcine tats, Clevelanders thinking “ink” are likely thinking Voodoo Monkey, the hip Ohio City parlor where art, professionalism, and good hygiene intersect. After all, getting tattooed should be like giving birth: The process may be no picnic, but the results should make you happy for a long time to come. 2070 West 25th St., 216-664-5658; voodoomonkey.org

Deering Vintage

Cynthia Deering is well known to local vintage shopping buffs as the longtime proprietor of Suite Lorain. She sold that business and has moved her stock over to Tremont, packing her finds dating back to the '40s into a large storefront on the neighborhood's main drag.

2678 West 14th St.

Unique Thrift

Bargain hunters, greenies, and just plain cheapskates flock to the Ohio City outpost of this 17-store chain for bargains on gently used clothing, furniture, electronics, and accessories. Plus, when it comes time to whip up an ensemble for the neighborhood costume contest, this place can't be beat.

3333 Lorain Ave., 216-631-0205,

uniquethriftstore.com

Flower Child

This fun and funky vintage shop is a retro retail museum of 20th-century kitsch, focused on items culled from the 1930s to the 1980s. Whether you're searching for a duplicate of Grandma's china or a set of your childhood Star Wars sheets, odds are you'll find it here.

11508 Clifton Blvd., 216-939-9933,

flowerchildvintage.com

Chelsea's

Best that you show up to Chelsea's with some idea of what you want to come out looking like: The place is overwhelming — two enormous floors of vintage clothing and costumes depicting virtually every era, occupation, and character imaginable. Random browsing will probably cause you a nervous breakdown, but if you've got something in mind, you'll locate it here with relative ease despite the daunting volume.

1412 West 116th St., 216-226-9147

Sweet Lorain

Sweet Lorain has earned its rep as the city's best place for bygone-era treasures. Spruced up and reorganized so you can actually walk through its 8,000 square feet, the place features a little bit of everything: from Hawaiian shirts and vintage dresses and jewelry to home furnishings and furniture plucked from half a century ago. Helpful when you need a certain item, Sweet Lorain is even better when you've got an afternoon to spare and a yearning to wind your way through endless displays of kitschy odds and ends.

7105 Lorain Ave., 216-281-1959, sweetlorain.com

Chelsea's Consignments

Perfect for potential hoarders and smart shoppers alike, Chelsea's ever-changing inventory of household furnishings and decor lets you unload your excess or stock up on more, as your needs, budgets, and psychological status dictate.

26443 Center Ridge Rd., Westlake, 440-892-1850,

chelseasconsignments.com

This Way Out

It's safe to say that this tiny vintage boutique, secreted away in the Beachland Ballroom basement, tends to be a hit with the countless bands that load their gear there. And more often than not, it's the hipster rock acts that find themselves slobbering over the offerings downstairs — everything from vintage clothing to beerware to old record albums. There's an extensive collection of old rock tour shirts (Night Ranger, anyone?) that would humble any department store's retro selection. And if you're looking for relics from Cleveland's rock & roll past, this is your unofficial home for Thundering Buzzard gear.

15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124, beachlandballroom.com

Music Saves

This cool little record store sits just down the road from the Beachland, thus cementing its reputation as a hipster favorite — which is to say, a bastion of vinyl old and new. The shop is stuffed with indie-rock records, from the latest Mountain Goats CD to the new Jessica Lea Mayfield vinyl. It also hosts in-store performances, the better to get up close and personal with your guitar-strumming heroes.

15801 Waterloo Rd., 216-481-1875, musicsaves.com

My Mind's Eye

If you're looking for a slab of classic rock, punk, or metal vinyl and My Mind's Eye doesn't have it, you're probably out of luck. But you'll find seven other things you'd forgotten that you wanted.

13727 Madison Ave., Lakewood,

216-521-6660,

mymindseyerecords.com

Arhaus Furniture

Clevelanders like their sofas with a side of sustainability. That's just what they get at Arhaus, a locally based company since 1986, with a reputation based on uniquely designed furniture and accessories that blend style, value, and sustainable practices, including their oft-repeated promise "to never use wood from our endangered rain forests." Nationwide locations include two in the Cleveland area.

Legacy Village, 24613 Cedar Rd., Lyndhurst, 216-382-6053,

Crocker Park, 175 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake, 440-617-0373, arhaus.com

Eclectic Tattoo

With its bright shop beaming with natural light and its artwork so detailed that it pops like 3-D, there's little wonder Eclectic earns the nod among ink hounds.

7054 Avon Belden Rd., North Ridgeville, 440-327-4465, myspace.com/eclectictattoocompany

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More by Elaine Cicora

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