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Best of San Diego 2023: Retail

From bookstores to meet your soulmate to unique bitters and vintage cocktail goods in North Park, these are the city's top retail spaces

By SDM Staff & Contributors

Meet Cute Bookshop North Park

Meet Cute Bookstore in North Park

Best Place to Make Your Mail More Beautiful

Sweet Paper

From wedding invites to custom notepads, Sweet Paper in La Jolla is a one-stop shop for finding pretty paper goods and other post-worthy delights. Customers can be choosy when searching the stationery and gift boutique for greeting and business cards, locally inspired presents, personalized envelopes, gift wrap, and other products that make sending mail more exciting. The ways to include your own personal touch are endless. –MK

Best Spot For, Well, A Meet-Cute

Meet Cute Bookshop

Not a single Dan Brown thriller in sight. Queer-owned North Park bookshop Meet Cute exclusively stocks romance novels, with particular focus on LGBTQ and BIPOC authors (and an allowance for the occasional queer memoir or nonfiction writing guide). And if you happen to reach for a book at the same time as a fellow hopeless romantic… Well, we know how this story goes. –AR

Best Tech for Happy Feet

Road Runner Sports

This 40-year-old, family-owned San Diego business just launched new 3D foot-scanning technology that helps customers with their in-store shoe, sock, and custom insole fitting experience—for free, in less than 10 minutes. Called Fit Finder, the tech provides a comprehensive foot analysis with personalized shoe and gear recommendations, including apparel from their Korsa collection and their popular (as in 12-million-plus sales) R-Gear Drymax socks. –KO

Best Street-Style Watching

Lucky Stars Market

The city’s entire population of Gen Z iconoclasts materializes at this roving market to shop women-, LGBTQ-, and BIPOC-owned businesses. Consider a full-scale, ’90s-movie-style makeovernew pre-loved outfit, new handmade resin earings, new piercingsor simply pick up a croissant-shaped candle and try to recover from the fact that early noughties clothing is now considered “vintage”. –AR

Best Wedding Registry for Cool Cohabiters

Casa y Cocina

Finally, an answer to the dilemma of what to put on a wedding registry when you already live together and own a Nespresso machine: Ask for prickly pear salt. A newish North Park shop from the founder of Artelexia, Casa y Cocina sources tableware, kitchen items, dry goods, and other home stuff from Mexico and offers registry services. Sure, you have dishes, but a handmade Oaxacan salsa bowl? Didn’t think so. –AR

Best Beauty Salon for Both Blowouts and Vibrators

Angelica B Beauty

Angelica B Beauty takes self-care seriously. While picking up beauty products and home décor, guests can browse Angelica B’s line of pleasure products to learn more about sexual wellness. Whether you’re getting your roots touched up or adding color to your sex toy game, this beauty shop in South Park is all about empowering women from head to… use your imagination. –NM

Collins & Coupe Bar Store North Park

Collins & Coupe Bar Store North Park

Photo Credit: Kimberly Motos

Best Spot for Obscure Bitters

Collins & Coupe

Your home bar called. Your grenadine’s expired. Upgrade your dinner party drink game at Collins & Coupe, a North Park barware store slinging new and vintage glassware, cocktail recipe books, specialty ice, bar tools, and every imaginable mixer (garam masala bitters, anyone?). You’ll have to hit a liquor store for the booze—though they do offer a selection of zero-proof spirits for sober folks craving something shaken or stirred. –AR

Best Tattoo with a Point-of-View

Pixley’s Oddities

In the front, the queer-owned University Heights studio is a fairy garden offering taxidermied critters, fantasy-inspired wire crowns, and Kewpie dolls. The muraled back room hosts more than a dozen artists, each with their own distinctive art style. Browse their Instagram to find the flash that feels most you,from ultra-detailed stick-n-pokes to sketchy, brightly colored florals and spindly abstract sigils. –AR

Fuze Jewelry Liberty Station

Fuze Jewelry Liberty Station

Courtesy of Fuze Jewelry

Best Alternative to Matching Tatoos

Fuze Jewlery

A step above BFF necklaces and below getting one another’s initials inked. At Liberty Station, the Fuze team welds delicate, claspless chains onto wrists, ankles, and necks. Select your metal and chain style (the shop offers more budget-friendly sterling silver and gold-filled options as well as 14-karat white and yellow gold) and, with a flash, you’re friends for life. –AR

Best Zero-Waste Shop for Plastic-Haters

Earthwell Refill

Environmentally conscious consumers don’t have to spend ages reading labels when they visit this zero-waste refillery in Kensington. Shoppers can bring their own containers to Earthwell Refill to buy plant-and mineral-based beauty and cleaning products. With the mission of diverting plastic items from the landfill and local waterways, Earthwell sources natural goods, such as detergent, shampoo, shower gel, and other toiletries, as well as sustainable items like stainless steel razors and bamboo toothbrushes. –MK

Gabriel Feitosa Pet Boutique Dog Grooming

Gabriel Feitosa Pet Boutique Dog Grooming

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