Best of the 'Burgh 2011: Shopping and Services
From the best wedding accessory to the best skin treatment, our editors pick the best in Pittsburgh shopping and services.
Best way to capture a wedding
Let’s be honest: Wedding videographers are a little awkward. They stalk guests relentlessly and throw a camera in their face TMZ-style when they’re not prepared. The result is a wedding video that features nothing but stammering, confused friends repeating the same awkward congratulations. Enter Flashbox, the best thing to happen to weddings since the open bar. The Flashbox is a video kiosk that guests can approach of their own free will. This gives them time to prepare stories, inside jokes, marital tips—and even choreograph song and dance routines. The best part about having Flashbox at your wedding is that the company will edit hours of raw video into a polished final package that also includes traditional stuff like cutting the cake and dance-floor action (Flashbox is mobile and can be taken anywhere) mixed in with the personal messages from friends and family. Then the video can be easily shared online via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or email. No more VHS tapes collecting dust at the bottom of a shelf. —Sean Patrick Conboy
Most easygoing craft fair
I Made It! Market
Across Pennsylvania, there are quaint craft fairs and roadside antique shops that sell handmade trinkets. For serious crafters, there’s the Handmade Arcade, an annual bazaar of jewelry and hand-stitched purses. Yet I Made It! Market is somewhere in the middle, where crafters of all stripes can show their wares for a nominal fee. Billing itself as “the nomadic indie crafts marketplace,” I Made It! pops up in the most peculiar venues, such as the new Glass Lofts, the University of Pittsburgh’s ballroom or the SouthSide Works. Venders sell everything from ornate dresses to decorative bottles—all in the most relaxed environment imaginable. —Robert Isenberg
Best place to take shrinking pants
New Oakland Tailor
“I’ll need these pants taken out,” you’ll sheepishly say to the gruff-looking man behind the counter at New Oakland Tailor. Owner Gino Deluliis will look back and forth from the waistline of your pants to your waistline, and then, with a sad shake of his head and a wink, he’ll say, “These things are always shrinking in people’s closets.” Besides such delicate issues, you can also rest assured knowing that, with fair prices and fast service, Gino knows how to handle your delicate pants, too. —Katie Booth
Best designated driver
Green Gears Pedicabs
We all know the importance of having a designated driver. But in a city with a definite cab problem, it’s wise to have options for reaching your destination. Arrange for Green Gears Pedicabs to pick you up for a fun sightseeing ride through the ’Burgh. Green Gears offers an alternative, safe mode of transportation and is dedicated to making a “green means” of travel available. They’re also exceptionally reliable. Found regularly on the main drags around downtown and the North Shore (before and after games), the pedicab drivers have been known to offer rides home from the South Side … for the right price. —Melinda Urick
1919 Faire Acres, Dormont; 412/343-7334, greengearspedicabs.com
Best handyman to fix your DIY disaster
It’s happened with everything from bunk beds to bicycles: I buy something that’s supposedly “easy to assemble,” and before I know it, I’m surrounded by 4,000 tiny parts and a single page of cryptic instructions. But every time, handyman Gene Kushon has saved the day. If it’s made of wood, Kushon can probably build it or fix it. If it can be painted, he makes it look pretty again. Reasonable rates, excellent work and patience with any mess I make (even when I tried to refinish my kitchen cabinets because a decorator on TV swore it was easy), he never says, “I told you so.” —Melissa Rayworth
Best extra-delicious skin treatment
The Firming Hot Pumpkin Pie Facial at Bloom Organic Skincare Parlor
Do you suffer from clogged pores or wrinkles—or do you just need to be pampered? Let Erinn Thompson, an organic facialist, work her magic. This scrumptious, anti-aging facial starts with a lathery 10-percent glycolic acid treatment containing pumpkin and spicy ginger, topped off with a creamy, nourishing milk mask ($90, 75-minute facial). From the smoothing pumpkin facial to Thompson’s other delicious treats, each product and service offered is made from the extracts of fruits, vegetables, seeds, plants and milk proteins (with no dyes, preservatives or chemicals). Another eco fun fact: Her rustic, neo-Victorian parlor is decorated with reclaimed wood. —Celanie Polanick
5220 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/849-1891, bloomskincare.net
Best vintage clothing shop
Eons Fashion Antique
Ever wonder where you’ll find a hatbox to match your vintage wardrobe? Or, while assembling a housewife costume, have you ever thought: What this outfit needs is a pair of pink slippers with feathery detailing. Maybe you’ve got a hankering for a nice fedora and waistcoat … with a pocket watch. If so, Eons is the place for you. It stocks high-quality vintage clothing from the 1880s to the 1980s along with jewelry, hats and shoes to die for. It’s a great costume shop, but it’s a better clothing shop—because why waste such fabulous pieces on a costume? —K.B.
Best DIY heaven
Construction Junction and Creative Reuse Pittsburgh
A recycler’s haven, a collagist’s dream, a landlord’s best friend: This building is one part build-your-own-home and one part strange knick-knacks. Construction Junction is a warehouse full of salvaged housing items—everything from spiral staircases to cabinets to screws of every shape and size. If smaller projects are your thing, head to Creative Reuse Pittsburgh—located within Construction Junction, where retro fabric, tiny thread spools or decades-old copies of Life are sold. And while you’ll probably be assembling things yourself, rest assured that nothing comes with illustrated directions written in Swedish. —K.B.
Best fine-art emporium
Artifacts is the Xanadu of Pittsburgh art collections: This converted warehouse contains room after room of Persian rugs, oil paintings, stuffed giraffe heads, Imperial furniture and African masks. Artifacts’ full catalog is priceless and breathtaking. This single store, tucked into an unassuming corner of the West End, is better stocked than most museums, and although most patrons could never afford a single antique mirror or stained glass lamp, the spectacle alone is worth a visit (or two). —R.I.
110 S. Main St., West End; 412/921-6544, westendartifacts.blogspot.com
Best new downtown view
The Fairmont Pittsburgh’s top floor
Since the Fairmont Pittsburgh opened last year, you’ve probably heard the buzz about the environmentally friendly design and pieces by local artists displayed throughout the hotel. But take your mind off the hotel’s sleek lobby, and head skyward. The real treat lies far above Habitat or Andys. Rooms begin on the 14th floor, so even the “lower” rooms have fabulous views—and from upper-floor suites, the bird’s-eye view of PNC Park is remarkable. With floor-to-ceiling windows and telescopes and binoculars available in the guestrooms, you can almost keep score during a Pirates game. —M.R.
510 Market St., downtown; 888/270-6647, fairmont.com/Pittsburgh
Best place to heel your sole
That old pair of shoes you desperately cling to? The one friends, family and/or significant others always nag you to junk? Frank’s Shoes has spent 45 years putting spring in the step of others just like it. Frank’s Shoe Repair handles everything from men’s dress to cowboy boots and back again. Full repairs on men’s dress shoes run $50, women’s heels start at $9. On top of that Frank’s shines and stitches. And there’s more to the business than breathing fresh life into damaged kicks: the retail side offers a range of leather apparel and accessories. Rare indeed is the place you can both buy a saddle bag and spruce up your Manolos. —Nicholas Lewandowski
5301 Grove Road, Whitehall; 412/885-1711, frankshoes.com
Best place to pretend you’re the host of “American Pickers”
Le Mix Antiques
Until recently, I assumed that all antique shops were cavernous barns of wicker located somewhere off of a turnpike exit. Then I discovered the amazing Le Mix Antiques located in the heart of Regent Square, a densely packed, winding collection of everything from artwork to furniture to one-of-a-kind jewelry. If you furnished your house with pieces from Le Mix, photographers would spontaneously appear to shoot it for a Better Living article; if you just wander in, you’ll find some unexpected thing that you simply must own, like the ’70s-era Pittsburgh Pirates piggy bank I bought the last time I visited. —Sean Collier
1115 1/2 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square; 412/241-5800, lemixantiques.com
Best groceries on demand
Best Grocery Delivery
Grocery shopping sits with shaving and laundry on most lists of “Things I’d Rather Have Someone Do For Me.” Unlike razors, however, it’s no problem handing your grocery runs off to someone else. Best Grocery Delivery lets customers shop for thousands of items online, then choose a specific date for delivery. It operates six days a week with rates varying by location (the service works as far out as Wexford). For some delivery fees may actually be cheaper than a trip to the store. Shoppers aren’t restricted to food items, either—Wal-Mart and Lowes are also fair game. In fact, Best Grocery encourages creativity, insisting it will deliver anything employees can physically carry (be reasonable, warns the website). —N.L.
332 Churchill Rd, Churchill; 412/295-4401, bestgrocerydelivery.net