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I can't say I'm all that familiar with the shopping habits of the "average" female... which of course would mean I'm even more clueless about male shopping habits. I do know this - I don't shop like anyone I've ever met - so this page may be of no interest to anyone!!  I'll add what I think are some great spots for books, groceries, music, and other oddities, but of course, clothes are the main focus. When it comes to all but underwear and grocery-type items... I'm a 2nd hand junkie.

wardrobe * bookshelf * music * groceries * oddities

Value Village

V.V. is my addiction. (one on Layton Ave. in St. Francis, one on 27th? near the Domes, one in Racine... - I don't dare hit the one on North Avenue). I'd venture to say 90% of my wardrobe is from Value Village. Come on! A store organized by item, sleeve length, color coordinated... it's my dream store!! If I need a white long sleeved shirt... I go to that part of the racks. If I need a shirt to go with my brown pants, I head to the "brown" sections of the shirts... Need a coat (my current obsession)? Want a tacky (and sometimes not-so-tacky) wall hanging?? An inexpensive, slightly used mattress? Stereo? Cat food bowl??? Head to V.V. first. Weekends, the whole store is 1/2 price. Weekdays the 1/2 price alternates between clothes and everything else but shoes. I am fortunate to live near one V.V. and another is on my way home from work, so I'm at each at least once a week. My poor friend Kim in NC, on a weekly basis, has to endure listening to me tell her about my shopping "spree" of the day or week, describing each item and telling her what each one costs. "I got this black velvet long fitted jacket for $2.50, a maroon and black "fur" jacket for $3.00, a great spandex top with velvet leopard spots for $2.00, black high tops for $1.00, some cool Old Navy hip hugger flared jeans for $2.50, a great pair of earrings for $.50, curtains for $2.00...." blah, blah, blah. Outside of using that Victoria's Secret gift certificate I got for Xmas, I don't think I've bought "outerwear" from a mall in years.

Tip Top Atomic - Bayview

Not too far south of Cafe Lulu and that cool intersection in Bayview is Tip Top. If you're a 50's rockabilly fanatic, you know this place already. It's small, but they have a great selection of vintage clothes and retro-reproduction items! I actually shopped there at Christmas to get some cool little item for a friend. Bowling shirts, poodle skirts, cocktail party accessories, etc... Great place, run by some pretty cool and friendly people who are living doing what they love!! You have to really respect that!!

Marlene's on Water - Third Ward - CLOSED, but may reopen in another location!

Great selection, as well, of more vintage clothes and they have an excellent selection of shoes as well. They don't tell you this (it's a lot like the Safehouse password) but everything is 1/2 off. Just say "this is 1/2 off, right?" at the counter and chances are they'll say "yeah." But hey, it's an excellent trick, if you ask me!! Prices are pretty reasonable anyway for the "normal" vintage fare (the hard-to-find stuff can be pricey, but some of it is almost worth it!), so it's not a huge deal, but it may make the difference between whether or not you decide to "splurge" on those black fishnet gloves. The last few times I was there it was colder inside than outside - it's a big old building and they must have been trying to save money on heat or something. Haven't been back since January. Maybe this spring. :-)

Closet Classics - 2 locations
South on Farwell, North on Oakland

CC has a really decent selection of vintage and unusual clothing, mixing in some unique first hand stuff, including a lot of unusual hosiery and funky lingerie and "costume" type stuff. Both stores were JAMMED prior to Halloween. They're got a great collection of shoes. Got my favorite go-go boots there. More than I usually spend on footwear, but well worth it!! Oh, and if you are out shopping this winter, and decide to wear your fur? Don't dare to shop at C.C. They'll gently ask you to leave. (I love that)

  Speaking of shoes...  next to Closet Classics on Farwell is Mr. Shoe, and if you love really unusual shoes (dangerously high heels, wild colors, bizarre designs), this is the place to go!!  I'll admit, I've never bought a pair of shoes there, but I go there once in a while to see what they have and hope that some day they'll have a huge sale where I can get some amazing shoes for under $20!!! Last time I was there, an exotic dancer was looking for some new patent leather thigh high boots that wouldn't irritate her calve problems. You gotta laugh!

wardrobe * bookshelf * music * groceries * oddities

I'm the first to admit.... I've never been a reader. It was - still is - a bit embarrassing for me to admit, but I've never developed a voracious appetite for books, although I wished I could. As an English major, I'm supposed to love to read AND write, I think, but I guess that's part of the restlessness thing - I can't sit still long enough to get through anything. The last few books I've read and actually finished have been on trains or airplanes. My books purchases over the last few years have mostly been relating to computers and design. I've gone and "splurged" on books by Poppy Brite, and I think the person whose style I love to read more than anything - Henry Rollins. HOWEVER, what I like to read, or how often, is not the point here. I love book stores. I love all those words, all that information, all that gossip, all that inspiration, all that poetry, all that trash... The look , the smell, the feel of books is something that could never be "replaced" by anything on the computer.

Harry W. Schwartz, Downer Ave., N. Oakland Ave., etc...

I confess, I love Barnes and Noble and Borders (especially the music sections, where you can literally listen to every song on every CD before you buy!!!), and you can't miss them - they're everywhere! So there's no need to point anyone in their direction. But if you love the big stores but want to support your local businesses, head to Harry Schwartz on Downer or Oakland, in Brookfield (I think) and now in Racine. Beautiful stores, excellent selection, knowledgeable staff that can pretty much tell you where a book is located without giving you a puzzled look and consulting the computer. In addition, they have a wonderful selection of "other stuff" - cards, gifts, calendars, blank books, stationery, etc... And there are cafes in the Milwaukee stores. They're online, too... look them up if you need to. But to me, online book shopping is only in an emergency!!

People's Books, 2122 Locust Avenue

There is a little shop called People's Books. It used to be on Oakland, and the first time I went in there, there was a dog wondering around the store. (I'm a sucker for a store that has animals roaming around!) They had lots of social commentary bumpers stickers and such back then. Since they've moved, they carry a smaller but great selection of literature, a lot of "sociology/psychology/self help" books... The books are organized by category and author, but not always "neatly" shelved and perfect. Got my last Henry Rollins book there - it was a lot easier to find than at the the huge stores, and seemed more appropriate!!! They also have a nice little selection of local self-published literature mags, etc... If you need a book - call them first and see if they have it. Get it there, and then go read it over coffee at Harry Schwartz if you have to. Support the little guy.

Constant Reader, off of Farwell, next to the Comet Cafe

Okay... the name is kind of stupid. But if you are looking for an older book, used, check this place out. Nothing fancy, but very organized, Constant Reader has a lot of interesting and mainstream used books at EXTREMELY reasonable prices. Large sections of books about film, literature, history, various regions of the world, poetry, etc... and some really unusual "children's" books. I told someone once that it should be a prerequisite - you want to sit and read at Comet, head to Contant Reader first!

Brady Street has a really kind of chaotic used book store, of which I don't know the name (I'll find out). I've been in there once, but really didn't have the time to rummage through it all. I did see Mike Shank from "American Movie" go in there once after a visit to Brewed Awakenings, though. So it's gotta be kinda cool!

wardrobe * bookshelf * music * groceries * oddities

Sendik's on Downer or Oakland

It's funny how the grocery store trend is to become more of an "experience" - cafes in the store, larger floral departments, "farmers market" type produce sections with less obnoxious lighting... I don't mind the trendy Pick N' Save and Kohl's, really. But if they weren't so darned "out of the way" - I'd probably spend that extra couple of bucks to shop at Sendik's on Downer or Oakland. They truly do have the most beautiful flowers, amazing deli/bakery case, freshest fruit, and wonderful selection of imported food and beverage items in a very warm store atmosphere.

Outpost Natural Foods, Capitol Drive, State Street - Wauwatosa

Of course, if you're looking for healthy/organic/good-for-the-earth stuff, it's the Outpost on Capitol Drive and now in Wauwatosa. Slightly more pricey than the average store, those with a "restricted" diet, be it voluntary or involuntary, will find the greatest selection of health foods here. My personal note: Try an organic banana. They're expensive, and they're not HUGE like the "non-organics." And don't let the "black" skin fool you. They're not bruised!!  Peel one and you'll find PERFECT and FLAVORFUL bananas!!! It makes you really think about the effects of chemicals on fruit to see and taste the difference. If your budget isn't limited, you may not go back to the regular.

wardrobe * bookshelf * music * groceries * oddities

The best stores, of course, are those that sell rare & imported CD & vinyl, as well as used stuff sold by people with excellent taste in music but bad money handling skills (much like myself), who taped their cool CDs then sold them for some quick cash.

Atomic Records, Locust Avenue

Atomic has been around forever, and is the best place (correct me if I'm wrong) to find what you want provided it's not Top 40 or would ever want to be. They have new, used, imports, rarities... posters and all that fun stuff. Place hasn't changed much in the past 18 years, back when it was Ludwig Van Ear.

Rush-Mor in Bay View - 2637 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Flipville, Farwell Avenue

wardrobe * bookshelf * music * groceries * oddities

Smell Good, Look Cool!
There's a store just around the corner north of Cafe Lulu called Oranje. I spent an hour in there this past fall, looking at unique and sometiems exotic soaps, perfumes, vintage purses and clothing. It's spacious and seems small, but there's a lot in that cool store! The woman who owns the store knows her products well, and my friend and I spent as much time "gabbing" with her as we did shopping. I ended up spending quite a bit there - going back later to buy more, as the perfume I had sampled (Russian Leather), had grown on me during the day and I HAD to go back and get it!!

Magick
Candles, oils, papers, inks, jewelry, stones, books, mystery, intrigue... There's at least 1 places in town to stock up if you're looking to set a mood or cast a spell. :-) House of Magick (formerly on Milwaukee Street downtown, now on Oklahoma in Bayview) is a great little shop with a "gypsy" feel to it. They carry lots of candles, oils, books, stones, jewelry, etc... They have since moved and I haven't had a chance to visit the new location... soon. I could use a little witchcraft.

For me, it WAS House of Scorpio on Burnham (off of Greenfield) - the place that my kids thought was "scary" and refused to go into. It was actually quite simple and basic store, so I'm guessing they "sensed" more than I did with their still untainted minds. I drove by one day, though... and it was gone. No phone number. No change of address. I'm sad. :-(

Paper Stuff
If you need a special gift wrapped, want some unusual paper items, invites, ribbon, journals, notebooks, gift bags, cards, etc... You just cannot pass up a trip to Broadway Paper (boring site, but...), on Broadway in the Third Ward. It recently opened a new, gorgeous store, and for those who have a love of all things stationary/paper (like me), don't pass this place up!! It's filled with some really amazing and beautiful items!!

Furniture
I don't buy furniture. But there's always that place where you like to go in and dream "If I was rich, I'd shop here!" And then you buy a picture frame, magnet, or shower curtain in a more affordable price range. This dream store, for me, outside of an antique store, that is, is Rubin's on Chicago Street in the Third Ward.

Got Dogs?
Spoiled dogs? Three Dog Bakery on Brady is the place to take the pooch shopping (provided the dog has some self control, or you have some control over the dog!). Nicer and cozier than a lot of human bakeries, this place is truly a "bakery" for dogs, with tons of different types of bones, "cakes" and other unique "snacks" that are ideal for the pampered poodle, spoiled shitzu, or simply a reward or birthday treat for the dogs who - if given too much of the "good stuff" - might take it for granted. They also have other non-edible dog accessories and gift items as well. This place is a "chain," but an interesting one worth taking a look at! (Okay - now they're closed!! But still have a web site!!)

Toys
No... not "those" kind of toys. Everything from kites and frisbees to joy buzzers, whoopee cushions, goofy glasses, marbles... of course, I'm talking about Art Smarts Dart Mart!! This place is classic and is an ideal place to take kids for some cheap and entertaining toys!!

Home | Me | Clubs | Music | Eats | Stores | Misce
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