Frances Martin unearthed a box of her great-grandmother's homemade Christmas ornaments 14 years ago and was immediately entranced by the star-shaped creations. "My mom and I took one apart and figured out how to make them ourselves," says the Cuyahoga Falls native. What started out as a hobby making paper stars soon turned into a business. Martin began selling her work in Hudson's The Labyrinth in 2002 then opened her own Etsy site, called Star Craft, five years later. "It just sort of blew up from there," she says. Stars are sold individually and as mobiles in a variety of colors, including springlike pastels and bold metallics. Martin even makes custom-colored items, such as elegant tree toppers ($16-$26) and Browns- and Cavs-themed stars ($3 each). While Martin's work frequently ends up in nurseries, we won't judge you for putting one of these ethereal mobiles in your crib. etsy.com/shop/thestarcraft
It's not just a Tribe hat anymore. The Indians' road cap, navy blue with a red block C, has become a signifier of town pride and a major fashion trend. The single-lettered cap, standing for both city and team, pairs well with the shop-local movement, the ball-cap element of hip-hop style and the ever-growing lines of Cleveland-themed clothing. Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat chef Jonathon Sawyer has been photographed wearing it. The Indians introduced it in 2008 as their alternate home cap, designing the C to echo Tribe caps of decades past, including similar block Cs that date back to the 1910s. The team promoted it to the big show this season, making it their main road hat, fueling its popularity. Its sales are up 135 percent over 2010, according to Indians spokesman Curtis Danburg. Move over, Wahoo: The navy hat and its new cousin, the red-with-blue-C alternate home cap, now account for two-thirds of authentic Indians cap sales. indians.com
Topozoo toys' fresh wood scent harkens back to simple childhood playthings such as wooden blocks and puzzles. They're almost as simple, too — just 15 wooden pieces, color-coded into sets of five to make three animals. But they also give kids plenty of chances to surprise themselves. By mixing and matching the heads, legs and bodies, children can build their own space aliens, sea monsters and snow beasts or stay traditional with elephants, dinosaurs and dragons. Created by Fairlawn-based Geared for Imagination, Topozoo is the brainchild of co-owners Ryan Hamilton and Bret Faber, two longtime buyers and sellers in the industry. Every piece from each kit ($29.99) will fit together, so you can mix, match and create your own mutant ele-bronto-lion. topozoo.com
Build Your Own Six-Pack
Buying a six-pack of beer you've never tried can be risky. Choose one you don't like, and five bottles inevitably get relegated to the back of the fridge for daring party guests or a corned-beef baste. rozis.comlets you limit the beer-tasting roulette to one bottle at a time. Just grab an empty carrier, and load it with selections from the single-bottle racks, or poach one from a full set in the cooler. "Anything in the store is fair game," says owner Corey Rossen. It's a beer-lover's dream at a place typically carrying 600 to 700 varieties, with at least 15 to 20 new brews coming out each week — a selection ratebeer.com has called the 35th best in the world. Craft beers are featured from around the globe, and bottle prices ($1.89 to more than $7 each) are usually written on the back. 14900 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-221-1119; 21860 Center Ridge Road, Rocky River, 440-333-1721,
Chefs Matt Mytro and Anthony Lynch created their Stove Monkeys
T-shirt line to build camaraderie among restaurant workers and foodies and help them communicate their passion like music and sports fans do. Mytro invents the clever concepts and gives them to designers Patrick Finegan or Aaron Sechrist to execute. Their "Notorious P.I.G." shirt celebrates pork while "Save the Foie" defends foie gras. "Weapons of Choice" features a condiment collage: silhouetted bottles of ketchup, mustard and Sriracha sauce. They've sold 15,000 shirts since 2007, mostly online, though The Nest in Tremont, a new artists' boutique, is carrying some of their best-selling shirts. The company also designs trendy T-shirt uniforms for restaurants. "We hope one day you can walk down the street in New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, wherever you may be, and it'll be an ice breaker," Mytro says, "Are you a chef; are you a foodie?" stovemonkeys.com
Artist etsy.com/shop/garrettweidercalls himself an urban explorer. The 33-year-old's art is born of graffiti and civic pride rolled into engaging, expressive works on canvas. "I noticed that there was a growing Cleveland pride vibe, and doing this brought me closer to the city," the Tremont resident says. Working with a technique that mimics the texture and saturation of color delivered by spray paint cans and sometimes actual spray paint, his various depictions of the chunky, block letters C-L-E-V-E-L-A-N-D are arranged in a grid bursting with energy and attitude. Garrett, who makes about 50 of the paintings each year, sells his pieces on Etsy and at Fat Cats, Native Cleveland and Phoenix Coffee for $150-$400. "I work on multiple pieces at once," he says. "I could finish a piece in one day, but it requires a lot of drying time."
Northeast Ohio Onesies
Hybrid Coffee Shop
Contrary to popular belief, doughnuts aren't the only circular object with a hole in the center to pair with your morning coffee. Loop, a Tremont coffee shop, proves a vintage vinyl record and the pure, retro sound hidden inside the grooves is just as sweet as a glazed doughnut. Most albums in this coffee house/music store even cost less. Scavenge through the $1 used record bins jampacked with long-forgotten jazz such as Journey in Satchidananda by Alice Coltrane (John's wife) and folk legends such as Carole King and Gordon Lightfoot. The store also sells the photos and paintings off the walls as well as new CDs and LPs mostly dedicated to alternative rock from Nirvana to the Strokes. But let's not forget about the coffee, which is roasted in-house daily. Loop veers toward lighter blends, which are more subtle and hold more caffeine, barista Chris Hoke says. "There is no one doing it quite like us," owner Dave Foran says, putting his coffee against anyone in town. "We also have one of the best collections of music in Cleveland." 2180 W. 11th St., Cleveland, 216-298-5096
Pin on one of Marta Glazen's fascinators, hand-decorated with lush brown speckled feathers and elegant satin ribbon, and you may be mistaken for the Duchess of Cambridge. Since the royal wedding, custom hat shop facebook.com/martaglazenmillinerhas been rushing to fill orders for fascinators, small hats worn to the side, like the ones wedding guests wore. "We have just been nonstop," Glazen says. If fascinators aren't your style, try a hat from Glazen's fall collection. They come in bold colors (a purple hat with diamond trim and an eye-catching bow) or neutrals (a tan 1920s cocktail hat with a diamond pin and netted veil). And if you have something in mind other than what's in store, Glazen can hand sew you any hat you desire. She can't promise national media attention like Princess Kate commands, but Glazen can assure you that wearing one of her hats will turn heads. 10431 Clifton Blvd., Cleveland, 216-961-9004,
We don't know for sure when it's happening or where it will be. But ohioknittingmills.com' spontaneity is what makes its holiday pop-up shop so fun. We do know that it will showcase one-of-a-kind wool and acrylic sweaters ($32-$150), with some dating back to World War II. Though the mill went out of business years ago, these Ohio-made artifacts have been preserved and are for sale, along with some modern items from throughout the country. Last year's inaugural shop in Gordon Square was a success, so president and creative director Steven Tatar wants to share the warmth of historic knits with Clevelanders again this November. "It's really an authentic piece of American history," he says. Check out the hat and scarf selection ($18-$48), then admire '70s-retro Pendleton sweaters. Rejoice in knowing that you can cross both your grandma and hipster friend off of your shopping list.
Commuter Bike Shop
Recycled Clothing Designer
Faith McFluff fell in love with fabric and fashion as a little girl, exploring her parents' drapery studio and trying on her grandmother's vintage dresses. Now she rescues wounded suits and old sweaters from thrift stores, covering the suits' holes and stains with stylish patches. Many of the men's suits in her rockstarrehabgear.comclothing line date from 1975 to 1981, when "men were allowed to wear things more fun and funky," she says — prints and patterns, butterfly collars, bright and vivid colors. She accents them with artistic patches such as an across-the-back collage of Cleveland landmarks (the Terminal Tower, Rapid trains). Her women's fashions include "pixie dusters," full-length coats with long hoods, flowing skirts, hand warmers and bows tied at the waist. The Rock Star Rehab name isn't just aspirational. Members of Parliament-Funkadelic picked up fashions from her at a Nelson's Ledges show.
We've been unfortunate enough to receive some pretty bad party favors in our day. From corporate-logo paperweights to key chains picturing brides and grooms, our eyes have rolled at it all. But sweeten up that logo or photo in frosting atop alittlecarriedaway.netcustom cookies, and we'll check "yes" on all your invites. Owner Carrie Asta-Pyros has grown the business out of her Rocky River home by word of mouth. Since she first preheated the oven about 10 years ago, she's filled orders for the Cleveland Clinic, sent Cat in the Hat cookies all the way to California, and made countless other custom designs for events such as corporate meetings, bachelorette parties and baby showers. Call it narcissistic, but after seeing our Best of Cleveland logo displayed in icing, we think giving them is delicious. 440-785-2225,
Big-box stores and ski shops carry snowboards, but if you're spending $450 to get just the right board, bindings and boots, why not go to the specialists? Mike Tirpak, owner of Martini Skate + Snow, promises careful attention to the right fit for your height, weight and foot size. He and his employees, all of whom avidly snowboard, will help you pick out the right board whether you're free-riding down ski slopes or tackling jumps and handrails like a skateboarder. Advanced snowboarders turn to Martini for boards, boots and outerwear that manufacturers distribute only to core snowboarding shops, such as Nike snowboarding boots and Vermont-based Burton's boards with trippy Alice in Wonderland graphics. Martini's store in Northfield, not far from Brandywine and Boston Mills, has been open for five years; Tirpak expanded to Cleveland Heights this year. "We do snowboarding; we don't do skis," says Tirpak. "We do what we know and what we like." 8266 Golden Link Blvd. No. 14, Northfield, 330-655-0155; 2122 S. Taylor, Cleveland Heights, 216-371-0155, martiniskateandsnow.com
You could scour thrift stores in relentless search of that Browns T-shirt you had in grade school, but it's much easier to let Troy Schwartz do the work for you. The owner of starpopcleveland.comhas a small yet smart selection of vintage T-shirts at his Collinwood shop, which also sells a multitude of other pop culture memory-joggers. "The majority probably falls into the late '70s to the late '80s," Schwartz says of his store's T-shirt selection. "I seek out Cleveland themes whenever possible. Sports shirts are always good sellers." Shirts range from $8 to $25 with most of the sports- and rock-themed shirts falling in the $15 to $20 range. Half the fun is uncovering the quirky surprises. Where else are you going to find a like-new Michael Stanley T-shirt these days? 15813 Waterloo Road, Cleveland, 216-965-2368,