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Best Local Clothing Brand
CLE Clothing Company
Clevelanders like to wear their hearts and pride on their sleeves, and since 2008, they have been doing so by putting on threads from CLE Clothing. It's easy enough to slap some city nostalgia on apparel, but CLE has perfected the funky inside jokes and references, and dynamic design that elevate the Cleveland pride to everyday wears. Whether it's capturing old Municipal Stadium, Dead Man's Curve, or the city's undying love for its teams, CLE has been making Cleveland look good for five years and shows no signs of stopping. Browse portions of their selection at the downtown store on East 4th or at Native on Waterloo Road.
Named after a ficus breed that grows nowhere near here, this independent boutique nevertheless offers a glut of local and/or eco-savvy clothing, accessories, and home accents, the go-to destination for that last-minute "oh, shit!" birthday or anniversary present—pretty much everything in here is gorgeous and tasteful, so guys, you probably can't go wrong getting your picky gf a gift here. With Cleveland designer Brian Jajinski's adorable print cardigans, chunky bracelets and necklaces from a slew of local artists, whimsical clip-on bowties for soigné tots, and cleverly scented candles from local artisan Sweet Dish & Darling currently in stock, the ever-evolving merchandise has only one constant: It's always drool-worthy. 2242 Professor Ave., 216-241-1209,
Best Local Store
Best Comics/Collectibles Shop
Playboy has called Big Fun one of the "coolest stores" in America, and who are Clevelanders to disagree? Since the 1980s on Coventry, Big Fun has been providing locals with that unique brand of childlike nostalgia found only in an old-timey toy store. It's a trip down memory lane for those born in the 40s or 50s and a journey to an unknown past for the millennials. Locally owned and operated by Steve Presser, this bastion of fun now has a west-side location on Clifton to complement the original store on Coventry. It's got all the toys and collectibles you'd ever conceivably want or need, and has a name which is the exact thing you feel as you walk in. 1814 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-371-4386 and 11512 Clifton Blvd.,
Half Price Books
Though its beloved Rocky River location closed at the beginning of this year, HPB's North Olmsted, Mentor and Mayfield Heights outposts are worth the trek. With assiduous, upbeat staff who won't cool-guy you when you ask where the Nicholas Sparks section is, a dizzying, well-organized stock of new, gently used, and "old and interesting" rare books—as well as comics, current magazines, software, games, vinyl, and gift-y diversions for the illiterate—the Dallas-based company may be a chain, but its stores abound with local bibliophile character. So come on down with your bug-infested boxes of last year's Harlequin series and trade them in for cash money, which you should then use to buy more books. You know, so bookstores don't keep going out of business. Various locations, hpb.com
Best Smoke Shop
It all starts with that seemingly benign gateway drug, nag champa incense. Next thing you know, you're jonesing for hemp necklaces, Grateful Dead tapestries, tribal bone ear plugs, beaded curtains, lava lamps, and the nefarious hacky sack, your life's meaning dictated by where you're gonna score your next tie-dye sock fix. Don't do drugs, kids, but if you must, this is your classic neighborhood head shop—nothing groundbreaking, just good, old-fashioned dorm-ready knickknacks and "tobacco" paraphernalia, with good prices, better-than-average pieces, and an enthusiastic staff. And dude, dig this: it's like, a star. During the day. It's always out there, you know?
17102 Detroit Ave., Lakewood 216-228-4522, and 15798 Lorain Ave., 216-941-4144, shopdaystar.com
Best chocolate /candy shop
Take a trip back to the chocolate-laden past and dip into one of Malley's many local stores. The magic all started in Lakewood, which features the classic pastel backdrop and boasts enough sweet-tooth fixings for a lifetime. The ice cream parlor vibe alone is enough to warrant several family trips to the local Malley's each week. You only live once, after all. We heartily endorse the Malley Ohs, which are, of course, Oreos drenched in the chocolatier's absolutely divine, velvety concoction. When we die, dear readers, please ensure that a comically large pile of Malley Ohs is tossed in the casket for our trip across the River Styx.
Various locations, malleys.com