2010 Best of Cleveland: Shopping & Services

Cat Lover's Store
Sure, you can get your cat's food and litter at a chain store, but what's in it for you, the cat lover? Coventry Cats has you in mind. The little Coventry boutique is filled with feline-themed items that help proclaim your cat-person-hood to the world: cat-festooned wallets, purses, socks, clocks, picture frames, earrings, salt and pepper shakers, mosaic tiles and gargoyles. Felix the Cat, the cartoon pioneer who really should've gotten the glory Mickey Mouse stole, gets his due in the store's selection of Felixiana, from jewelry to pins and bobbleheads. Your cat will be glad you stopped by because the store's selection includes cat toys from Fairport Harbor-based Play 'n' Squeak (its catnip-laced toy mice give off an exceptionally lifelike squeak when pawed). Obscure specialty cat supplies, from allergen-free food to micro-crystal litter for senior cats, beat the chains' selections. 1810 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-321-3033, coventrycats.com

Cuff Links
Just because you never actually learned to play guitar doesn't mean you can't dress like a rocker. These sterling silver guitar pick cuff links ($85) are the coolest we've seen, and they'll rock your wardrobe without drawing unwanted attention. Rocky River resident Teresa Crompton makes the picks by hand, cutting them from a sheet of sterling silver with a jeweler's saw and stamping the words "rock" and "roll" onto the individual cuff links. Crompton made the first pair as a gift to her brother, who plays in his own band. Now she sells them through her business, SilverMade Studio, on Etsy and in Geode Gallery in Tremont. Pick up a pair, wear them to your next concert, and pay tribute to those who can play guitar. etsy.com/shop/silvermadestudio

Custom Sneakers
As a kick returner, Josh Cribbs frequently lets his feet do the talking. So it's fitting that after his successful off-season contract negotiations with the Browns, Cribbs was given custom shoes from Legndary, the Cleveland Heights clothing boutique and skate shop that also designed the T-shirt for his "Pay the Man" campaign. The orange, brown and green Nikes included an action shot of the Pro Bowl player (with his hair flying out of his helmet, of course) and dollar signs. "They're one of a kind," says Cribbs of the shoes, which he keeps in a glass case in his home office. "I wear them around the house, but that's it. I have to keep them fresh." Even if you're not an NFL star, Legndary can help you express yourself. Buy shoes there or bring your own — everything from high-tops to high heels — and in-house artists will create a design that's 100 percent you. But there's a catch: The shoes must have a leather outer shell so the artist can burn the outline into the shoes using a penlike wood burner and then follow up with a paint job. 1828 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-862-3917, areyoulegndary.com

Dog Treat
For a split second, you think about taking a bite. It looks right. It feels right. In short, Star Spangled Pet Treats do a very good impersonation of human food. That's why after sampling one, your best friend will exhibit Dog Whisperer-like obedience in order to get another. You expect a nice restaurant to cook down bones for several hours in order to create an organic beef stock, but no one expects such care put into a product called Buddy Bones. But Star Spangled Pet Treats CEO Lisa Curtis prides herself on creating treats that are nutritious. That's why she avoids using white flour, artificial colors and salt in her products in favor of wheat flour, olive oil and antioxidant-rich ingredients such as organic apples, blueberries and cranberries. Even better, Curtis says all of her ingredients come from American suppliers. "There are a lot of treats out there that say made in America' on them, but I took it to the next step," Curtis says. "Every single ingredient is American." 888-364-2758, starspangledpettreats.com

Electronic Music
The Bent Crayon's Detroit Avenue space is tiny. The music selection is purposely obscure. And the website doesn't take orders electronically. "I'm a horrible businessman," concedes owner John Cellura. But with more than 10,000 LPs and 3,000 CDs crammed into the shop, Cellura is Cleveland's top source for electronic music. In-the-know customers rely on Bent Crayon for the latest from Berlin techno purist Marcel Dettmann and classics by German experimental rock bands Can and Faust. He's got mail-order customers as far away as Brazil, Japan and Europe. He's also brought in psychedelic rockers Mogwai and alternative folkie Bonnie Prince Billy to perform in the packed store. Businessman or not, he's doing something right. 11600 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-221-9200, bentcrayon.com

Hand-painted Glassware
Artist Chelsey Hill's delicate musings across wine glasses, decanters and mugs take the form of purple orchids, wee birdies and climbing vines. Shimmery gold paint hallmarks the North Olmsted painter's Pretty My Drink designs. Some glasses literally drip with color, as two-tone streams of paint slink toward the base. Although she grew up creating art in her spare time, Hill was inspired to apply brush to glass after working in a boutique and thinking, I could do that. And she can. A lot of glass art she found featured old-fashioned floral designs and grape leaves; her work is updated, modern, using inspiration from nature, fashion and home decor trends. It's surprisingly melodious and sweet, fanciful yet sophisticated and hip enough to give as a wedding present. "I want to make sure that my glassware is an extension of their style," Hill says. prettymydrink.com

Mood Rings
Slide a shiny new ring on your finger, and your heart might beat a little faster. Suddenly your skin looks smoother — and were your eyes always that bright? Some call it a shopping high; Xen Gift Gallery owner Ksenija Anic calls it metaphysical energy — at least when you're wearing her rings. A jewelry-maker for more than 20 years, Anic believes the gemstones she uses have healing properties that mingle with the energies of those who wear them. Whatever the explanation, a new ring brightens our mood. Sparkle of an Angel (above) features a sterling silver band and angel wing as well as Swarovski crystals for only $46. It is said to possess fresh, clarifying and protective energies. Although her rings don't change colors to tell you how you're feeling (come on, didn't you know already anyway?), they promise to convert negative feelings into good ones. 2017 Murray Hill Road, Cleveland, 216-791-6035, xengiftgallery.com

Ohio Pride Necklace
Jak Figler has tapped into the Buckeye psyche. We're not flashy or glitzy. We have a strong work ethic and a healthy sense of pride that's not overbearing (sorry, Texas). He takes a sterling silver circle charm and etches the outline of the state to create something that's simple, classic and understated. It's a way to display your love for the Buckeye state without sporting scarlet and gray or wearing nuts around your neck. And you can get even more detailed about your neighborhood affections: Some charms are etched with places such as Lakewood, Ohio City, Cleveland and Akron. Pair them with his custom combo-ball chain (yes, like the chains that hold pens to bank counters) to evoke that industrial, rugged feel of your hometown. 330-389-1013, jakfigler.com

April Nemeth has a theory: Everything is cuter smaller. So the designs for her screen-printed organic cotton Onesies, toddler T-shirts and recycled note cards start with tiny drawings. Once she has a design she likes, she blows it up to show off the nuances of the hand-drawn image. Her simple, enticing pictures — an ice cream cone, a TV — skitter straight to the heart. Maybe that's why Little Korboose's most popular image is a robot with a smile as big as his boxy head and a heart. 240 Market St., #237, Cleveland, littlekorboose.com

Natural Soap
If you're like us, you don't put too much thought into what soap you use in the shower. But we deserve more from our shower experience than the familiar store-bought soapy smell and harsh chemicals. Enter Beecology and its natural soaps. The local company uses scents and oils that were prominent in ancient Rome with other natural ingredients to create handcrafted bars. Each one looks pretty, smells great and has its own set of antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Take a long, hot shower with the Honey & Lavender to relieve stress (the mixture of avocado oil, honey and essential lavender oil eases headaches and melts away tension). Or start the day with the Honey Oatmeal Morning Peppermint. The combo of shea butter, honey and oatmeal leaves skin feeling smooth, and the hint of mint kicks your senses into high gear. We'll wake up for that any day. 23400 Aurora Road, #5, Bedford Heights, 440-786-7650, beecology.com

Sea Salts
Step aside, table salt. The Olive and the Grape has more than 50 varieties of gourmet sea salts to update the flavors of a favorite recipe — and cut back on your sodium. "They have more flavor and texture, so you can use much less," says store owner Candice Berthold, who is also a trained microbiologist. From a fluffy Portuguese Creme do Sal (a perfect topper for finished dishes) to the fiery Sal del Fuego (it'll add fire to your favorite meats), the Olive will make you excited to cook. Sprinkle Vintage Merlot ($10) onto baked brie for a rich appetizer that'll impress your guests. But if you buy just one, try the Himalayan ($7 to $8): Slightly sweet and mild enough to use on most foods, this pink salt is hand-mined from the Himalayan Mountains. 877-503-5775, theoliveandthegrape.biz

Salon with a Cause
As we enter Beauty on the Line Day Spa, owner Annie McGrady motions toward the door. "I need a moment," she says. One of her longtime customer's daughters is dying of breast cancer, and McGrady needs to gather her composure. "The way I look at people who come into my shop, to patronize my business, is they're family," she says. This philosophy, along with the example set by her late grandmother to have respect for her elders, motivated McGrady to offer free spa services — manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing and massage — to patrons over the age of 85 and those in dire circumstances. The effects of her efforts are all around her: The salon is rich with artifacts from the lives of her grateful customers. Their black and white family photographs from the turn of the century hang opposite a portrait of McGrady's mother painted by a client. "It's not so much about the money," McGrady says, "it's about the people." 18900 Van Aken Blvd., Shaker Heights, 216-991-0303
Share this story: