929 Liberty Ave., Downtown (412-471-1899) and 2030 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill
A bookstore named "Amazing" is giving itself a lot to live up to, but owner Eric Ackland has been delivering to otherwise under-served shoppers in Downtown and Squirrel Hill. Local writers get upfront display — Amazing also carries locally made greeting cards — and just behind is a dazzling array of titles in every genre. And brace yourselves: A third location may be in the offing.
2nd: East End Book Exchange, Bloomfield
3rd: Caliban Books, Oakland
Dave's Music Mine
1210 E. Carson St., South Side
412-488-8800 or www.davesmusicmine.com
Pittsburgh is known for its old vinyl shops, but Dave's, in the heart of the South Side, sells new records alongside the gently used. If you're still thrilled by Tuesday release days, this is the place to find indie rock, pop and all manner of other music as it hits the shelves.
2nd: Jerry's Records, Squirrel Hill
3rd: The Exchange, multiple locations
1305 E. Carson St., South Side
412-431-0700 or www.pittsburghguitars.com
Looking for a new Strat? How about a vintage Martin acoustic? Chances are the friendly folks at this musician-owned and -staffed storefront can help you out — with cherry six-strings, basses, amps and more, even the odd uke or banjo. Whether for sales, repairs or lessons, this indie shop's lasted 35 years for a reason.
2nd: Pianos N Stuff Music, Blawnox
3rd: Backstage Guitars, Lawrenceville
800-262-5200 or www.levinfurniture.com
Whether you're in the market for a classy table lamp or a comfy new recliner, this perennial "Best Of" winner is the place to go for no-nonsense furniture shopping. Sam Levin founded the first store in rural Mount Pleasant in 1920. Nowadays, there are 24 locations, including several specializing in mattresses.
2nd: Perlora, South Side
3rd: IKEA, Robinson Township
Eons Fashion Antique
5850 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside
You never know what might be on the racks at Eons. Merchandise at this longtime Shadyside retailer covers decades of fashion history, with wares dating back to the 1800s. The selection includes both functional and fabulous clothing and accessories for men and women, making it the perfect spot to find either a new outfit or this year's Halloween costume.
2nd: Avalon Exchange, Squirrel Hill
3rd: Clothes Minded, Bloomfield
5850 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill
412-521-3530 or www.littlesshoes.com
A landmark on Forbes Avenue, Littles has been around for decades and helped generations of Pittsburghers find the right fit. In a world of Zappos and DSWs, it's nice to sit back and let a real shoe professional take care of you now and then.
2nd: Gordon Shoes, Homestead
3rd: Ten Toes, Shadyside
3629 Butler St., Lawrenceville
412-621-6400 or pavementpittsburgh.com
Though celebrated for its well-curated shoe selection, this boutique packs big variety into its storefront. The dresses, coats, sweaters, hats, scarves, jewelry and more range from cute and fun to elegant (or all three at once). The quirkily rustic décor complements wares by both national brands and local designers, leaning toward the indie and the U.S.-made.
2nd: Figleaf, South Side
3rd: Jupe Boutique, Lawrenceville
5857 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill (412-421-6777) and 532 Beaver St., Sewickley (412-741-8080)
A lot has changed since its founding by Bill Orr in 1952. The store has more than tripled in size since moving from its original Midland, Pa. location. And while you'll still see classics like diamond stud earrings, engagement rings and diamond bracelets, you'll also find trendier yellow-gold pieces, ear climbers and statement rings.
2nd: Henne Jewelers, Shadyside
3rd: South Hills Jewelers, Bethel Park
1213 E. Carson St., South Side
412-488-4489 or www.salonivy.net
Finding a trustworthy hairstylist can be daunting, but the stylists at Salon Ivy are up to the task. Since opening in 2012, popular demand has already necessitated a move to a larger space. Offering a wide range of services for men and women at affordable prices, the Ivy team aims to help you look and feel your best.
2nd: Studio Booth, Shadyside
3rd: Pageboy Salon & Boutique, Lawrenceville
337 Beaver St, Sewickley
412-741-4240 or www.sewickleyspa.com
More than 40 treatments — massages, seaweed wraps, facials, and more — await customers at this long-established readers' favorite. It's all housed in a Victorian-era home amid the finery of Sewickley, long a getaway community for Pittsburgh's elite. Here's your chance to be treated like one of them, at least for a little while.
2nd: Esspa Kozmetika, Aspinwall
3rd: Metamorphosis, Lawrenceville
1408 Bingham St., South Side
412-390-3590 or www.thickbikes.com
Its modest repair garage has grown over the years into a full-service bike shop with an urban edge, with new and used cycles (and parts) of all types and gear, from U-locks to messenger bags. But you'll really love the service at this bike-centric joint: Whether it's a tune-up or an overhaul, the Thick Bikes crew just wants you out riding.
2nd: Iron City Bikes, Oakland and Lawrenceville
3rd: Kindred Cycles, Strip District
With locations in Shadyside, Wexford and South Side, Amazing Yoga offers heated power vinyasa in a peaceful, supportive environment. Its first-timer deal — 7 days for $7 — is a great opportunity to see if this yoga stuff is for you. Grab a mat and prepare to get a little sweaty. You're sure to leave feeling — well — amazing.
2nd: South Hills Power Yoga, Dormont and Peters Township
3rd: Yoga Flow, multiple locations
Byron Lee, Neverending Ink Tattoos
1100 Muldowney Ave., Lincoln Place
412-721-0166 or www.neverendingink.biz
Quiet Lincoln Place doesn't have the concentration of tattoo shops you'll find in, say, Lawrenceville or South Side. But City Paper readers are willing to make the trip to Neverending Ink, where Byron Lee inks lettering and luminously colored graphic work with equal mastery.
2nd: Jason Angst, Artisan Tattoo
3rd: Justun Palenscar, In the Blood
Hot Rod Body Piercing Company
95 S. 16th St., South Side (412-431-6077) and 115 Oakland Ave., Oakland (412-687-4320)
If you've got a body part crying out for a piece of jewelry, there's a good chance the crew at Hot Rod Body Piercing Company can help. They offer body jewelry in many styles and a variety of materials, including stainless steel, 18-karat gold, titanium and even Pyrex glass. Whether it's a nose ring or something a little more personal, they'll get you pierced.
2nd: Tattoo Noir, Bloomfield
3rd: Artisan Piercing Boutique, Garfield
There's no question the trend toward "vaping" is reflected at Smoker Friendly: Every store now has a vape tasting station. But you can still find traditional products like pipe or rolling tobacco, plus a wide variety of cigarettes. If you're into cigars, check out the Downtown location, which has over 500 varieties and its own cigar lounge.
2nd: Steel City Vapors, Castle Shannon and Monroeville
3rd: Leaf & Bean, Strip District
5880 Centre Ave., East Liberty (412-441-7960) and 10576 Perry Hwy., Wexford (724-940-6100)
When you're looking to fill your fridge with organic, gluten- or GMO-free ingredients, Whole Foods is the place to do it. Even though it's a national chain, you'll still find plenty of locally-sourced produce. And if your culinary skills leave something to be desired, the store's prepared foods section is always handy.
2nd: East End Food Co-Op, Point Breeze
3rd: Trader Joe's, East Liberty and Upper St. Clair
562 Camp Horne Road, Avonworth
412-847-7000 or www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org
If you'd like to stop looking at the billions of cute animal pictures online, and take a furry friend home, Animal Friends can help. It houses homeless cats, dogs and rabbits, while providing future owners with the tools they need to be successful parents. At Animal Friends' facility, there is even a veterinary clinic and pet-therapy suite.
2nd: Animal Rescue League, Larimer
3rd: Western Pa. Humane Society, North Side
Pittsburgh is lucky to have a pretty active market for thrift stores, and this year City Paper readers chose Goodwill as their favorite. The inventory is as varied and diverse as the people who shop there. Two things are certain: You'll always find a bargain, and your money and your donated items are going toward a good cause.
2nd: Red, White and Blue Thrift Store, Brookline and Bellevue
3rd: Salvation Army, multiple locations
412-344-6012 or www.rohrich.com
Bentley, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Scion, Toyota — Rohrich carries them all. For the past 75 years, this family-owned car dealership has been providing reliable service to the Pittsburgh community with a stress-free car-buying experience. With locations throughout the Pittsburgh area, Rohrich sells new and pre-owned vehicles and likely has something for every consumer.
2nd: Day Automotive Group, multiple locations
3rd: #1 Cochran, multiple locations
Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, Highland Park
One Wild Place, Highland Park
412-665-3640 or www.pittsburghzoo.org
Lions and tigers and bears aren't just sports teams — show the kids the real, living deal at the Pittsburgh Zoo. The Highland Park facility has all the kids' favorite animals, plus more exotic creatures such as the Komodo dragon, African springbok, naked mole rat and a giant Pacific octopus. Plus penguins — the waddling, non-skating sort.
2nd: Children's Museum, North Side
3rd: Carnegie Science Center, North Side
Just Ducky Tours
125 W. Station Square Drive, Station Square
412-402-3825 or www.justduckytours.com
See Pittsburgh — by land and by river — while riding in a World War II-era amphibious vehicle known as a DUKW, a.k.a. duck. This fun and informative tour navigates Downtown, the North Side and a river or two, as lively guides keep up a steady stream of history, factoids, Pittsburgh pride and groan-inducing bird puns.
2nd: Gateway Clipper, Station Square
3rd: Segway in Paradise, Station Square
B*tches Ball, Animal Rescue League
It sounds like the worst party invite ever — help dogs and cats get neutered while you enjoy cocktails — but Animal Rescue League's annual B*tches Ball is both a great time and a great cause. Held to coincide with World Spay Day, it features a drag show, music and nibbles. Mark your calendar for next year's ball in February.
2nd: The Dirty Ball, Attack Theatre
3rd: Urban Garden Party, Mattress Factory