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The RFT's 2016 Guide to Shopping Local in St. Louis

We gave five shoppers $100 each. Here's what they found in Soulard, the CWE, Downtown, South Grand and Cherokee

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Ashley Diaz shops at Bowood Farms. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • Ashley Diaz shops at Bowood Farms.

Destination: Central West End

Shopper: Ashley Diaz, attorney

I am 110 percent a city person and am obsessed with St. Louis architecture. But while I lived at the corner of Laclede and Sarah in the historic Central West End for three years while attending SLU law, I really didn't buy much in the neighborhood other than things like food and drink and froyo. My shopping excursion was like exploring my old neighborhood again for the first time — and it was nice to get re-acquainted.

I started at Bowood Farms (4605 Olive Street, 314-454-6868) because one of my first experiences when I moved back to the city after college was going to brunch at Cafe Osage next door. Bowood Farms is a cute little store that has anything you could ever need for plants, as well as home goods, natural self-care products and a small kids section. While I was there, I found a smudge brush, which you burn to put good energy in your home. It was perfect for my mom and only set me back $16. Plus, it's something you wouldn't see in a typical store.

Diaz picks out a St. Louis-themed coloring book at Left Bank Books. - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • Diaz picks out a St. Louis-themed coloring book at Left Bank Books.

I browsed the fashion options at Living Collective (4703 McPherson Avenue, 314-932-5665) and Enchanting Embellishments (4732 McPherson Avenue, 314-361-5300) before moving on to Left Bank Books (399 N. Euclid Avenue, 314-367-6731). I was most excited to go there because I'd read that the store has a coloring book of famous places in St. Louis. It was $16 as well — and now I'm not sure if I'm going to give it to someone or keep it for me. I also found a $20 watercolor of the Muny by this really great artist named Marilynne Bradley, whom I'd previously met at the Shaw Art Fair. I get my mom and I season tickets to the Muny every year as part of her Christmas present, so it was another perfect find for her. It was nice to be surprised by having a local artist's work there for me to purchase.

After that, I went down farther into the heart of the Central West End to Fauxgerty (228 N. Euclid Avenue), which specializes in vegan leather. It also has clothes, purses, jewelry, natural body care products and other curated items. From there I got sea salt spray in a pretty glass container for $20 for my sister-in-law, who is always doing fun stuff with her hair. I'd never noticed Fauxgerty before, but it was a very calm space, with no clutter and pretty typography on products.

Fauxgerty offers "vegan leather." - PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • PHOTO BY MABEL SUEN
  • Fauxgerty offers "vegan leather."

After Fauxgerty I went to Bissinger's (32 Maryland Plaza, 314-367-7750). I bought a quarter-pound of malted milk balls, which sell for $20 a pound. (Fast-forward a day, and they're already gone between my boyfriend and me.) I also got a couple of macaroons at $3.50 each as a little treat. I think I'll be back there to pick up chocolate closer to Christmas for my dad; he's the reason I like malted milk balls so much. Let's just say this stop was taste-testing research for Christmas.

— as told to Elizabeth Semko