The Best of Cleveland 2007 Shopping

Wilderness supplies, responsible clothing, stationery, denim selection, Celtic accessories, new (old) arrivals, lingerie, Italian imports, one-stop shopping and dresses
“Um, I think we have a coupon for that!” the salesperson says. Oh, wait. He thinks he was wrong. Oh wait, on further inspection, it turns out he was right! It’s usually the case at Appalachian Outfitters, a wilderness supply store in Peninsula that always seems to have just the coupon you need for whatever gear you’re loading up on. We’ll always appreciate that form of customer service, but we’d shop there without the discounts. The staff is the right mix of young climbers (the store is connected to the Kendall Cliffs climbing gym) and older, crunchy outdoor enthusiasts. And they don’t just answer your questions about a particular backpack, kayak or hiking shoe, they enthuse, they compare, they discuss among themselves. You’ll come out with a product you can trust, since you’ve been inside it (be it sleeping bag or sandal) and spent some time in it (they’ll leave you alone so you can get comfy).; 60 Kendall Park Road, Peninsula; (330) 655-5444

Bamboo is, apparently, not just for pandas anymore. At Revive, a fair-trade clothing store in Cleveland Heights, it’s the ingredient for silky, clingy cap-sleeve tees. The cashmere-like, naturally antimicrobial shirts are made in the United States, but in this boutique, that makes them the foreigners. Owner Lisa Dunn pulls clothing, accessories, jewelry, soaps and lotion — created by workers all over the world who were treated equitably and paid fairly — into one little shop on Lee Road. And she does it well — the clothes here are not your standard hippie fare. (That bamboo shirt will hug your curves like a dream.) We call it fashion forward, with a conscience.; 2248 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights; (216) 371-2778

Step inside Paper Trails, the new corner specialty paper/stationery store in Rocky River, and prepare to be enveloped in bold, fresh colors and clever cards. Birthday cards, gorgeous thank-you notes and paraphernalia for big-day occasions fill the small, smartly organized space. Holiday pop-up cards with black cats and broomsticks beckoned us along one wall, but we quickly moved to the party invitations. A slew of themes, from palm trees and coconuts to cowboy hats and lassos, made us break out our planners to see where we could squeeze in an impromptu party. And with custom personalization at 25 cents per page, why not? We love the mixture of class and cheekiness that let us be ladylike and silly all at once with playful accessories next to dainty floral cards. Before we knew it, we had stocked up on Knock Knock’s useful, witty Cubicle Notes for the office that offer up funny options such as “Do this or else we’re all doomed.”; 19146 Old Detroit Road, Rocky River, (440) 333-0033

Inspired by the modern layouts of SoHo’s chicest boutiques, Aja Lewis decided to try it herself. Her Warehouse District shop, Style Lounge, brings the latest designer jeans to Cleveland (it’s the only place in town where you can actually try on lines such as JETLAG, Brown Label and Robins). But the lounge doesn’t just offer trend-chasers the hottest labels — it creates a shopping experience. It’s open late, till 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and has its own style bar, where free beer and wine are a staple and DJ Joey Fingaz spins live every Saturday night. So New York.; 1273 W. Ninth St., Cleveland; (216) 664-1104

Murphy’s Law does not apply within the tiny confines of this Irish shop. For if ever everything could go right, it does at The Irish Trading Co., in the form of a mighty case of jewelry constantly replenished with sparkly shamrocks, crosses, Claddaghs and more, all fresh off the boat from the Green Isle. You’ll find traditional Celtic designs on everything from rings to cuff links to flasks (although those might be difficult to wear). Plan a complete Celtic wedding with the Tara bridal collection or cover yourself in The Cat & The Moon shamrocks. We fell in love with the purses and scarves owner Gena Davis makes out of yarn straight from Ireland.; 20616 N. Park Blvd., Shaker Heights; (216) 371-6886

Ron Nicolson doesn’t just dust and display articles from a bygone era, he completely repurposes them. In his skilled hands, a few yards of salvaged wood paneling become a slick new dinette table; a long-neglected sideboard is dressed up as a shabby-chic buffet; and a galvanized coal-mine cart is reincarnated as a one-of-a-kind kitchen island. To keep his West Side antique shop brimming with cool, old stuff, Nicolson travels a never-ending circuit of estate sales, auctions, antique marts, demolition sites and homes of the newly departed. His design-conscious acquisitions — a mid-century modern dining room table, say, or a 1920s-era baked-enamel medical cabinet — keep Reincarnation afloat in a sea of Lorain Avenue antique dealers. Reincarnation is only open on weekends: That leaves Nicolson more time to scour the planet for your next favorite piece. 7810 Lorain Ave., Cleveland; (216) 651-9806

Who’s sexier, Paris Hilton or Marilyn Monroe? That’s exactly why the nightgowns, peignoirs, girdles, teddies and camisoles from Heavenly Vintage Lingerie beat Victoria’s Secret. Less red lace. More white satin slips. Less shock. More mystery. True, the idea of used intimates can be icky, but the company promises their pieces are “thoroughly inspected and cleaned” and always in at least “like new” condition. And, oh, are they gorgeous. We swooned over a $49 Vanity Fair ballet-style nightgown with a curved neckline, fitted waist, chiffon overlay and satin ribbons that tie in the back. We passed on the bullet-point bras and belly-button-covering panties, even though they sold for as much as $78. The completely Web-based store operates out of a Cleveland suburb.

Each April, Fatameh Keyghobad and her husband, Morteza Emami, travel to Milan for the largest furniture show in the world. They’re the only dealers in Northeast Ohio who consistently make the trip. They return to Surroundings Home Décor, a sleek, minimalist downtown Cleveland showroom, with fresh ideas, leads on new designers and the latest from revered Italian designers such as Piero Lissoni. Sure, a sofa will set you back anywhere from $3,000 to … well, the sky’s the limit, but, notes Fatameh, you’re not just buying any old couch. “It’s like buying a painting by a well-known artist,” she says. “[Lissoni] is the god of design in the furniture world — it’s like the Mercedes of furniture.”; 850 W. St. Clair Ave., Cleveland; (216) 623-4070;

We love the Banyan Tree. The trendy Tremont shop is the independent boutique version of Target: tons of must-haves for every room, including the closet. The shop fills two connecting retail spaces. One side is devoted to uber-stylish home décor — tablecloths, vases, candleholders, platters — from designers including Modern-twist and J.K. Adams. We were pulled from inspecting plates created by students of the Savannah College of Art and Design to coo over the too-cute baby things nestled in a corner crib, like the soft, cotton-viscose baby blankets peppered with polka dots. The other side of the store is a fashionista’s feast: Lines from funky designers, including Young Essence, XCVI and Linea Domani are perfectly at home next to super swank collections from French Connection and Nick and Mo. The selection is a great combination of “it” pieces for the current season, and classics that’ll always have a spot in your closet. Now we’re not knocking Target, but a pair of shoes that no one else in town will have, a handmade ring and a leather handbag unlike any other, all under one roof? That’s something to love.; 2242 Professor Ave., Cleveland; (216) 241-1209

It’s Punky Brewster meets Shabby Chic, a store with a hard edge and a lot of soft lines, courtesy of its girly-slash-punky young owner, Brooke Nieves. She opened Powter Puff Boutique in May, to the delight of the downtown female population, and she’s doing everything right. The prices are surprisingly affordable ($21.50 out the door for a delicate Jake tee decorated with graffiti skulls — with bows), and the shop is warm and fun (pink chandeliers hang from the ceiling and T-shirts double as doilies). Her dress collection is most impressive, though. Rocker-girl minis hang alongside floor-length Anthropologie-esque styles, and though it’s not the biggest selection in town, it’s obvious each dress has been carefully chosen to create a comprehensive whole. She typically buys only three of everything she carries, so you’re not likely to see your new fave on anyone else in town. 2671 W. 14th St., Cleveland; (216) 274-1220
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