Best of Columbus 2014: Shopping

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From the July 2014 edition

Bras That Actually Fit

The Von Maur intimates department is an oasis of good products and attentive service. It’s usually a pain in the patootie to find just the right bra or piece of shapewear, but not here. Von Maur carries quality brands like Wacoal, Chantelle and Natori in a wide range of sizes. A saleswoman who might remind you of a mother or grandmother will help you select just the right thing, and she’ll be honest when you ask if she can see a single line or bump under that slinky cocktail dress. Need to know someone will be there to help just you? Call ahead to make an appointment.

Tempting Displays

What do vintage lockers, antique cameras, hanging terrariums and a 1920s telephone booth (that’ll cost you nearly $3,000) have in common? They’re all part of the eclectic-yet-streamlined lineup of goods for sale at Elm & Iron, Clintonville’s go-to for modern and old-school decor. Though the merchandise ranges from quirky contemporary gifts to splurge-worthy antique furnishings, it’s the shop’s layout that steals the show. The rustic-meets-industrial store is effortlessly styled, somehow cramming tons of wares into a simple and beautifully organized space. Bonus: A Powell location opened in June.

Miracles in Leather

You know those sad, tired handbags, briefcases and shoes in your closets? They’re too good to chuck and too bad to take out in public. Pack up those poor soles and take them to Dr. Shoe Worthington, where Yakov Kamenetskiy and crew will sew, buff and tack new life into them. Kamenetskiy, a native of Ukraine with 25 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree in leather goods technology and design, takes pride in his craftsmanship, whether it’s a job as simple as replacing taps on high-heeled shoes or as complex as repairing tears in a handbag.

Boost to the Menswear Scene

The Mizzen + Main man, according to co-owner Web Smith, is a physically fit sports enthusiast in his 30s, someone who’s as serious about his career as he is about his style. He’s also loyal. “Once guys wear our shirts, they’re lifetime customers,” Smith says. Mizzen + Main’s popularity lies in their focus on both style and performance: Their dress shirts, for example, are breathable, moisture-wicking and totally sharp. The careful curation of accessories is a bonus for men with a discerning eye. Look for Rock Avenue bowties and pocket squares, leather duffels and classic-cool wayfarers.

Body- and Earth-Friendly Soap

The soaps Phil and Sandra Metzler make by hand from their Grandview living room aren’t just good for your skin. They’re good for the environment, too. Glenn Avenue Soap Co.’s oval-shaped bar and foaming liquid soaps contain only sustainable, biodegradable, organic plant-based ingredients. Natural essential oils infuse heady scents like Orange Ginger and Peppermint and Tea Tree, along with other vegetable oils and butters that create a lather so rich and moisturizing you’ll want to wash—and then sniff—your hands all day long.

Addition to German Village

On sunny days, the door to Vernacular’s quaint storefront is thrown open from the brick sidewalk, beckoning to passersby. Clothing that’s chic but borderline bohemian, chunky jewelry, colorful housewares, pretty greeting cards—it’s all handpicked by owners Chelsea Cabot and Kris Konieczko from markets all over the country. Go there for things you won’t find anywhere else—and for one of the most adorable collections of baby clothes and toys around.

Photography Lover’s Heaven

In a year in which the last Cord Camera store closed, we take solace in the stamina and old-fashioned customer service of Midwest Photo Exchange. Here, the experts behind the counter (they’re all photographers, too) have the knowledge big-box stores don’t, and they bring passion and camaraderie to the gig, too. This is also one of the last places you can go to buy film locally.

Subterranean Finds

Spend just five minutes in Glean, and you’ll find a handful of odds and ends you never knew you wanted, let alone imagined would exist. Owner Dawn McCombs—who calls her shop’s aesthetic “steampunk-meets-Alice in Wonderland”—truly takes the “one person’s trash is another’s treasure” adage to heart (think baby-doll-head planters, embroidered denim journals and soap made with corn grits). Instead of going to a landfill, coat hangers, hunks of plywood and copper pipe couplings find new purposes and new homes. The best part: Nearly every item for sale is crafted by local artists.

Forever Furniture

One of just a handful of stores like it in the country, Euro Classics Antiques specializes in turn-of-the-century American furniture. Just as impressive as the straight-lined, ahead-of-its-time design is the wood itself. “This is real furniture,” owner Pedro Zamora says. “It’s made with old-growth wood; you can’t get it anymore,” says Zamora, knocking on the thick arm of a Stickley Bros. chair, which was built in 1914 yet feels sturdier and more comfortable than anything built 2014.

Gardener’s Paradise

Tucked in Franklin Park Conservatory’s main atrium, Botanica is sure to delight anyone with a green thumb. This artfully curated gift shop has items ranging from the practical (gardener’s soap, gloves, reference books) to the decorative (blown-glass lawn ornaments, botanical prints, jewelry) to the just plain fun (miniature fairy gardens and dirt-scented candles). The attached greenhouse, meanwhile, contains bonsai trees, succulents, herbs and other plants you won’t find at a big-box garden store. Purchases help support the conservatory’s horticultural and educational programs.

Eclectic Shoes

Husband and wife duo Lenny and Marcia Comeras travel roughly five weeks every year in search of the best quality shoes, making the selection at Easton Shoes unlike any other in the city. Family-owned and operated since 1954, this one-of-a-kind store sells only shoes manufactured in the United States and Europe. The factories that make these shoes are often also family-owned and produce comfortable, durable and stylish footwear. Browse hundreds of styles in the store, as well as fine handbags and handcrafted accessories from South America.

Travel Gear

At Urban Baggerie, which opened a new location in Polaris Fashion Place last October, preparing for a trip is easy thanks to the wide selection of luggage and travel accessories. Here you’ll find RFID-protected, slash-proof bags, waterproof playing cards and collapsible chopsticks. You’ll also find top luggage brands, including Briggs Riley, Eagle Creek, Tumi and Victorinox. And thanks to the store’s free personalized embroidery, you’ll never mistake your bag for someone else’s.