So you want to buy a complete outfit for $4 and grab a couple of lamps for the apartment and a book to read and maybe a new coffee table to put it on? Come on down to Unique Thrift! Better yet, come down on half-price Mondays, when you can probably score all that gold for just a couple bucks. The Lorain-Fulton location has been the poor man's Nordstrom for Cleveland's hipsters, twentysomethings and just about anyone who looked at their bank account, looked at retail clothing prices and realized the recession would take some getting used to. And chances are even if you don't shop there regularly, you've been to the thrift oasis for a Halloween costume or other random occasion, and the experience hasn't been awful. And besides the bargains, that's about all you need to know.
Multiple locations, uniquethriftstore.com.
Staff Pick: Unique Thrift
The origins of Presti's, the venerable Little Italy institution, date back to 1903 when the Presti family started a small bread bakery. More than 100 years later, they're still supplying Cleveland with an endless menu of freshly baked sweets, now in a full-service, dine-in cafe on Mayfield Road. Now on its fourth generation of bakers, Presti's remains the perfect stop for cookies, cakes, pastries, donuts, pizza, sandwiches and sides as artful as they are delicious. Stop by for coffee and a snack on a lazy weekend or swing by after dinner for dessert to impress your lovely date. History lives here, and nothing tastes sweeter.
12101 Mayfield Rd., 216-421-3060, prestisbakery.com.
Staff Pick: Michael Angelo's Bakery
In the realm of adult merchandise, there's some comfort in shopping at a chain. Under the leadership of adult-entertainment luminary Rondee Kamins, Adultmart has grown and thrived in Northeast Ohio. Cleveland is the historic capital of the porn industry, so it makes some sense that a retail and distribution giant are right here in town. At Adultmart, you'll find a vast array of toys, apparel, accessories, and videos; and you'll be assisted by a friendly, knowledgeable staff and an inviting (not creepy, not intimidating) environment. Kamins has succeeded in creating a "boutique shopping experience" at her several area Adultmart locations. The selection and price-points are better than anywhere else in town. Valentine's Day has come and gone, but every day is ripe for love and experimentation in the bedroom.
Multiple locations, adultmart.com.
Staff Pick: Adultmart
We all know (and love) the radio spots by now, right? The extremely enthusiastic gentleman relaying Lady Jane's amenities, like leather sofas and big-screen TVs. The voice of Lady Jane's understands the needs of men. He proffers only optimism and righteousness, along with great haircuts. The men's salon is rapidly taking over the U.S., though they already have a firm grip on Northeast Ohio. Settle in for a journey wholly unlike the boilerplate buzz cuts you're used to; Lady Jane's treats men to the finest in sports-themed settings whilst stylists shear your dome with aplomb. The only thing that's missing is a Browns win on the big screen (Lady Jane's explicitly states that they cannot assist with a feat like that; but everything else, sure).
Multiple locations, ladyjanehaircuts.com.
Staff Pick: Rockafeller Barbershop
The folks at Winking Lizard looked around one day and realized, hey, our bars have some of the best beer selections in the city, but where might one go to buy bottles of all this stuff on a retail level? Thus was born Lizardville, which is part bar, part restaurant and part beer-bottle bonanza. Organized helpfully by style, the selections at Lizardville far and away outpace in number and quality what you'll find in the grocery store or corner quick stop. Plus, there's the added bonus of a staff well versed in the intricacies of brew, so they can walk you through how something might taste or how it's made (what the hell is a double IPA, anyway?), offer suggestions from the hundreds of options and do what they do best: make you a more informed beer drinker.
Multiple locations, lizardville.net.
Staff Pick: Lizardville
While bookstores seem to close up shop with alarming regularity these days, Northeast Ohio is blessed with a bevy of local stores servicing neighborhoods and the bountiful supplies stocked by Half Price Books. There really isn't anything like burning away a couple hours browsing the shelves for hidden treasures and the newest releases, and Half Price's extensive, frequently changing inventory has just the right tome for any bookworm, whether they're looking for a DIY gardening guide, a Dickens' classic or the latest novel from local stars like Dan Chaon or Alissa Nutting. Part of the draw is the adventure, and the other part is right there in the name: It's cheap, people! Grab a stack and get reading again.
Multiple locations, hpb.com.
Staff Pick: Visible Voice Books
"This is the year I'll start riding my bike again!" you proudly proclaim each spring. And by the time fall arrives, you're usually kicking your own fat butt for yet again neglecting to jump onboard this most socially visible exercise. But this, in fact, will be the year that you do start riding your bike again! First, you'll need to buy a bike (otherwise known as a "bicycle"). Pencil in a visit to Eddy's as early as today; they'll get you hooked up with all you need to know about the world of two-wheeling (don't refer to it as "two-wheeling"). In-store visits are a must, as you'll need to undergo a size assessment before you snag a bike and steer into traffic. Feel free to toss all manner of questions at the Eddy's employees. They're pros and they can handle whatever level of non-expertise you're bringing. Listen, this is the year that you start riding. Now, really: Go make it happen.
Multiple locations, eddys.com.
Staff Pick: Blazing Saddle
Valerie Mayen's creations were already piping through Cleveland's fashion consciousness when she decided to open a storefront in 2011. What was once a piece you saw someone else wearing and had to scurry back to your computer to score for yourself is now an entire store of unique threads and accessories that keeps Cleveland looking classy. Mayen may be from Texas and might be nationally recognizable from her appearance on Project Runway, but she fell in love with Cleveland and set up shop in Detroit Shoreway, channeling the city's passion and her creative dreams into what readers roundly say is the best boutique in town. From coats to pants to shirts to dresses to jackets, Yellowcake will leave you feeling like you just stepped out of the pages of Vogue.
6500 Detroit Ave., 216-236-4073, yellowcakeshop.com.
Staff Pick: Banyan Tree
CHOC: You know it, you love it. The irresistible chocolate offerings from Malley's have been happily devoured by Clevelanders for eons and for every occasion. In fact, you probably just gulped down a bunch of their sweets at Easter. Nothing saves a bad day or seduces a sweet tooth quite like Malley's, and if chocolate can be poured over something — pretzels, coffee beans, strawberries, peanut butter, nuts – Malley's is doing just that. Mother's Day? Valentine's Day? Birthdays? Christmas? Just some random ol' Tuesday? Malley's is there for you. Pick up a box of assorted chocolates for that special someone or a collection of unique creations and you'll be well on your way to their hearts. Or simply stop by and graze with a milkshake in hand. After all, some things you just gotta do yourself.
Multiple locations, malleys.com.
Staff Pick: Malley's
Clevelanders wear their hearts on their sleeves and their pride on their chests. CLE Clothing Company grew out of a small web-only biz to a brand that is worn by about half of the city, by our last count. Not bad for a few years' work. Whether you're rooting on the Tribe, Cavs or Browns — or simply want the world to know that you're from the Forest City and proud of it — CLE Clothing has just the tee for you. The threads tap into Cleveland cultural history with icons like Eliot Ness, surfing on Lake Erie, Dead Man's Curve and even Dyngus Day for the sweet sartorial nuances that make Cleveland and its quirks shine. And if you simply want 216 or CLE splashed on your chest, they have you covered too.
342 Euclid Ave., 216-736-8879, cleclothingco.com.
Staff Pick (Clothing Brand): I Love the Hype
Staff Pick (Locally Owned Store): Salty Not Sweet