Begun in 1985 as a strictly volunteer-based project of the St. Louis Mennonite Fellowship, Plowsharing Crafts grew over the years into a thriving nonprofit with two locations and an expansive inventory of eclectic wares from around the globe. The staff is committed to selling fair-trade art and handcrafts in order to provide much needed income and nurture the businesses of artisans, 70% of whom are women, from more than 45 developing countries around the world. The selection of items ranges from housewares to jewelry and beyond, many of which are made with sustainable and recycled materials or from food grown with sustainable methods.
Launched 5 years ago, Mattress Source has grown from a plucky family-run enterprise to a regional institution, soothing aching backs and brightening up dream times with masterfully engineered mattresses of all makes and types. Models from brands such as Simmons, Corsicana, Restonic, and Spring Air enrich the third of your life spent asleep and the eighth of your life spent practicing trust falls with thick, long-lasting constructions designed to support and relax the body. The inventory promotes deep sleep and good health through a range of mattress types, from the strong, nonsagging innerspring design to the pillowy comfort of sheets of memory foam and latex.
A tall mural with cheerful, stylized images of antique home furnishings and a well-placed arrow points visitors to the cherry-red front door of Little Shop Around the Corner. Inside the charming resale shop, tail-wagging vintage merchandise and upscale antique furniture, art, jewelry, and china await to be adopted by new owners. The merchandise is sourced from donations to the Missouri Botanical Garden, located just around the corner. Garden Emeritus Trustee Evelyn Newman dreamt up the idea for the store, whose proceeds benefit the Garden's research and educational initiatives aimed at preserving botanical life, conserving resources, and combating climate change.
The St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association's Gypsy Caravan organizes one of the largest antique, craft, and flea markets in the Midwest, with up to 20,000 people expected to attend this year. The 7 a.m. early-bird ticket grants a full two hours of perusing before general-admission ticket holders, who risk becoming antiques themselves during long waits for admittance. Nearly 400 outdoor and 72 indoor vendors will occupy booths plying antiques, collectibles, crafts, jewelry, furniture, clothing, and other unique wares. Complimentary shopper’s guides plot out retail excursions with maps, vendor lists, and navigational star charts. Browse toys, DVDs, and comic books at Tim Metzger's table; deck yourself out in vintage jewelry and custom-made apparel at the Blackberry Exchange booth; or please your feathered friends with a recycled-tire bird feeder from Chalily Pond and Gardens.
The shelves at Looking Glass Designs teem with jewelry, bags, apparel, and gifts for children and adults alike. Adorn barren wrists, lonely necks, and empty earlobes with handmade beaded jewelry sets in contemporary and antique styles. Stylish serving items include wine glasses etched with the fleur-de-lis, the national symbol of Rhode Island ($8). Recycled coffee bags come together in Sun Ministries eco-friendly totes, and each tan and gingham-patterned bag helps to send young missionaries into inner-city areas. The shop also stocks scarves ($15–$35), baby gifts and apparel ($10–$50), soy candles ($14), and natural loofah bath scrubbies ($7). For an additional fee, customers can choose to have owner Andrea Heugatter, whose needle skills helped her to win the Riverfront Times 2009 award for Best Personalized Gifts, emblazon gifts with names, personal messages, or grocery lists.
A red brick exterior, spacious sidewalk patio, and delectable café menu highlight the charming European appeal of Rue Lafayette, whose beginnings were documented on a recent episode of Renovation Realities on HGTV. Early-morning strollers, comptrollers, and world-weary street mimes can start their morning of artfully aimless ambling with Rue Lafayette's sweet, flaky croissants imported from France. The chocolate croissant ($2.25) matches particularly well with large cups of the café's drip coffee ($2.25) or frothy cappuccino ($3.55). Lunchers, meanwhile, can feast on the quiche ($6.99) and mix it together in their digestive centrifuge with the sinfully tasty croissant bread pudding ($5.99). Since Rue Lafayette's dishes rotate with the stately dance of the seasons, each polite café employee will cheerfully lay out today's recommendations, tomorrow's libations, and yesterday's neutron radiation gyrations. The café's mad scientists have also combined breakfast and lunch into an unholy (yet delicious) monstrosity known as brunch, which gets unleashed from its chains every Saturday and Sunday.