Goods & Services

Best Little Debbie’s dupe

3 N 17th St.

Erin Kennedy’s Shockoe Bottom bakery OMG OCPS sells one cookie and one cookie only: homemade oatmeal cream pies.

Considered the GOAT of sweet treats for many sugar fiends, oatmeal cream pies are most often associated with the iconic Little Debbie brand. That was the case for Kennedy, who credits her beloved late Uncle David with instilling in her a love of Little Debbie OCPs. When Kennedy started whipping up her own OCPs for family, friends and local markets in 2021, she knew her version of the cookie would make Uncle David proud. Kennedy opened her storefront in fall 2023 and has amassed quite a fan base, drawing in customers with seasonal flavors like Girl Scout-inspired cookies including toffee, French toast and mint chocolate oatmeal cream pies. Ordering a half-dozen is your best bet, and no matter the season you’d be remiss to skip the OG flavor. It’ll have you asking, “Debbie who?” —M.S.H.

Best place to shop where unique home goods reign supreme

Odd Bird
320 Brook Rd.

Looking for candles shaped like lemons, heads of garlic, or juicy heirloom tomatoes? Hosting a dinner party and need new glassware and serving ware that’s sure to turn heads? Look no further. The recently opened Jackson Ward shop specializes in items that will spruce up any drab space, from the living room to the kitchen, adding color and whimsy. —M.H.

Most likely to give Auntie Anne’s a run for her money

Butter Boys

Remember the good old days of aimlessly traipsing around your favorite mall, clutching a hot Auntie Anne’s pretzel in one hand and a vat of dipping sauce in the other? When former Pop’s on Grace baker Kyle Poston’s pop-up Butter Boys started gracing Instagram feeds last summer, we couldn’t stop our nostalgia centers—and tastebuds—from salivating. Poston’s sourdough soft pretzels are made with local spelt flour from Grapewood Farm, striking a balance between an “artisan- type” pretzel and “a mall pretzel,” says Poston. Butter Boys is currently hosting pre-order box drops—choose six soft pretzels ($18) or pretzel bites ($15)—twice a month, with flavors including original, everything or cheddar parmesan. Poston is also slinging hot, made-to-order pretzels at select events around town. While there’s no plan for a storefront at the moment, Poston says he does have more flavors in the works, plus hard pretzels and other “pretzel-y type products” on the horizon.

Follow Butter Boys on Instagram for the latest on where they’re popping up and when they’re doing box drops. Send special order inquiries via DM. —M.S.H.

Best place to find antiques you didn’t know existed

The Veiled Mirror

Forget your grandmother’s antiques. Formed three years ago by two of our favorite local style mavens, Olivia Lloyd and Kath Parker, the Veiled Mirror sells everything from Victorian jewelry and curios to dark, romantic and macabre items and weird, creepy religious stuff like a customizable casket light for your own coffin. You really have to check out their website and Instagram pages to get a sense of how cool and unique their inventory is, with a broad appeal that includes everyone from fans of fine jewelry to secret societies, musicians, embalmers, you name it. Many discover Veiled Mirror’s wares at antique shows or oddities and curiosities events around the East Coast; they’re all about preserving the weird.  Even their business name has a cool backstory: “During the Victorian era, when people would die in the home, they would stop their clocks at the time of death and cover the mirrors with a veil to keep the spirits from staying in the house,” explains Lloyd. She adds that a lot of work goes into the curation. Both co-owners are very into telling the histories and stories behind all their fascinating pieces. “It’s part-art project and part-history lesson,” Lloyd adds. “We delve deep.” —B.B.

Best way to consume caffeine that’s not coffee

Paix Coffee’s Brazilian Lemonade
407 Cleveland St.

Located inside vintage clothing store Rexco, Paix Coffee serves a small but mighty menu of espresso beverages. Owners Seth McDaniel and Danny Hodge opened their storefront in fall 2023 after months of popping up around town with their sleek, neon sign-adorned espresso cart. Paix sources specialty coffees from around the world, like the Columbia El Nevado which boasts a “sparkling acidity” and the Ethiopia Nguisse Nare, with notes of “hibiscus, raspberry and honey.” With flavor profiles like this, an Americano or latte is stellar on its own, but it’s the shop’s seasonal iced Brazilian lemonade that has us driving across town for a buzz.  McDaniel and Hodge make the refreshingly tart — with just the right amount of sweet — beverage by blending whole lemons and coconut condensed milk, then topping it with espresso. Like all of their offerings, the lemonade is served in one size, so fair warning, you may feel compelled to order two. And you absolutely should. —M.S.H.

Most convenient way to mend your clothes

Top Stitch Mending
401 N. 23rd St.

Have you blown out the elbow of your favorite blazer? Worn a hole in that one pair of jeans that fits just right? Top Stitch Mending is on the case. After scheduling an appointment, either drop off your well-loved duds at one of two locations or mail them in. Top Stitch was founded by Lisa Hutchinson in 2016 to combat the excess waste caused by mass production and fast fashion through fixing existing clothing. From torn seams and moth holes to patches and stain cover-ups, Top Stitch can return your clothes, family heirlooms and quilts to fighting form. They now offer a variety of in-person hand and machine sewing lessons, as well as Top Stitch TV, a package of instructional videos for hand sewing beginners. —R.G.

Best place for joining thread

Richmond Really Sews!

Karen Keech Swerling, an avid sewing enthusiast, moved to Richmond eight years ago with her husband, Jerry. “I couldn’t find anyone to sew with me,” she says. “Right after COVID, I wrote on Nextdoor, ‘Does anybody in Richmond sew? I’m a lonely sewist.’ And I got a thousand responses in 24 hours.”

Swerling, a veteran movie and TV costume designer, started a Facebook group, Richmond Really Sews, that has become an area resource and meeting place for the avid “sewist” (she prefers that to seamstress). It has attracted a slew of area enthusiasts who meet and sew at various locations across the city, including Swerling’s own Fan-area sewing center, and every third Thursday in the community room at Publix on West Broad. At the meetups, there are often special demonstrations on everything from “smocking” to how to clean a sewing machine to making flower pillows. Bemoaning Richmond’s relative paucity of fabric stores, Swerling has hosted fabric shopping trips with small groups to New York City and the big Fabric Mart in Pennsylvania. The group also hosts a Richmond version of Frocktails every Fall – it’s a frock-centric cocktail party replicated in various cities across the world – complete with a fashion show.  “To me, this is mostly about friendship. It’s all inclusive,” Swerling says. “Gender, age, religion. We have men too and we really welcome them. Usually, the men that show up are among our finest sewists.”

Interested parties can join in through the active, 2,000-member Richmond Really Sews Facebook group. But please, don’t call Richmond Really Sews a sewing circle. Swerling’s not crazy about that term either. “To me, that implies older white women,” she says, pointing out the group’s recent coverage in “Sewn Magazine,” a publication for African-American sewing enthusiasts. “We’re reaching every kind of sewist now. Everything is free and everyone’s welcome.” —M.S.H.

Best shopping in a sleepy mall

Cerebral Vortex
1420 N. Parham Rd. (Regency Square Mall)

With its large department stores gone, Regency Square Mall is a husk of its former self, but this former Richmond shopping epicenter still attracts comics fans and vinyl collectors, thanks to Cerebral Vortex. Owner Jason Hamlin specializes in independent, underground comics you can’t find anywhere else. “But I sell everything, really,” says the veteran dealer. That includes $1 books as well as pricey Silver Age Marvels. For years, Hamlin plied his trade at comic conventions, but went brick and mortar during the pandemic. As cool as the comics selection is – the popular YouTube channel Cartoonist Kayfabe devoted an entire episode to Hamlin’s rare, one-of-a-kind titles – CV also has a well curated selection of used vinyl that reflects the owner’s varied tastes. So if you ever need an original pressing of South American psych to go along with that vintage back issue of Daniel Clowes’ “Eightball,” this is the place. “I work hard to try and buy collections,” Hamlin says of his formidable inventory. “I’m always looking for stuff.” —D.H.

Best memorabilia for a former Richmond mascot

Sweatshirt for the Richmond Professional Institute Green Devils
Available on Amazon

Virginia Commonwealth University was formed when Richmond Professional Institute and the medical department of Hampden-Sydney College merged in 1968. Founded in 1917, RPI was a part of the College of William and Mary from 1925 until 1963 when it became an independent institution. From 1948 to 1963, RPI’s sports teams were the Green Devils, reflecting the green and gold color scheme of The College. When RPI became independent, it chose blue and gray as its new color scheme and changed its mascot to the Rams. The school changed its color scheme again to its current black and gold when it merged with MCV. We love a Ram as much as anyone, but the Green Devils are infinitely cooler. Sporting Clark Gable moustaches, a trident and a jug of moonshine, these dudes look like they know how to party. Everyone should get this badass sweatshirt. —R.G.

Readers’ Choice

Best thrift store

Diversity Thrift
1407 Sherwood Ave.

Best vintage clothing

2916 W. Cary St.

Best gift shop

2924 W. Cary St.

Best bookstore

Fountain Bookstore
1312 E. Cary St.

Best barbershop

High Point Barbershop & Shave Parlour
(multiple locations)

Best salon

Serendipity Hair Studio
13813 Village Place Dr. (Midlothian)

Best furniture store

1011 Commerce Rd.

Best farmers market

Tie: RVA Big Market and the Farmers Market At Saint Stephen’s

Best veterinarian

Betty Baugh’s Animal Clinic
5322 Patterson Ave.

Best baby/kids’ boutique

Milby’s Just Kids
3022 Stony Point Rd.

Best bike shop

Agee’s Bicycles Cary Street
3116 W. Cary St.

Best antique store

Class And Trash at Scott’s Addition
1720 Altamont Ave.

Best gym

Tequila & Deadlifts
2613 W. Cary St.

Best car repair

Wallace Automotive
(two locations)

Best electrician

K Snoddy Electrical Company

Best flooring

Costen Floors
9840 Maryland Dr.

Best florist

Coleman Brothers Flowers
2104 Dumbarton Rd.

Best grocery store

Libbie Market
400 Libbie Ave.

Best hotel

The Jefferson Hotel
101 W. Franklin St.

Best jewelry store
Cowardin’s Jewelers
4909 W. Broad St.

Best landscaping

Cross Creek Nursery & Landscape
501 Courthouse Rd.

Best music store

Plan 9 Music
3017 W. Cary St.

Best record store

Plan 9 Music

Best pet store

Fin & Feather Pet Center
5208 Lakeside Ave.

Best tattoo shop

Black Rabbit Tattoo – Carytown
17 N. Belmont Ave.

View the winners in each of the following categories:

Arts & Culture

Dining & Nightlife

People & Places


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