Best of Cream City 2020 | Self Care & Shopping

Everything you need to know about where to shop and treat yourself in Milwaukee.


Readers’ Choice | Shop Local For Fashion



This boutique has been a Brew City stalwart for nearly 30 years. And the merchandise – a curated mix of dresses, separates and accessories – is just as on-trend now as it was when the store first opened. Consider it a great go-to for fashion-forward brands like Desigual and Nicole Miller.



Join Milwaukee Magazine and Quad for the third-annual Unity Awards Event on March 8 from 6:30-9 p.m. at GATHER in the Deer District.



This luxe Third Ward store is as well-designed as the clothing inside it. And the knowledgeable sales staff are always available to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Photo courtesy of Harleys



Why pay full price for your designer duds when you can buy them gently used for a fraction of the cost? At this upscale thrift store, you can find men and women’s clothing from brands like Michael Kors and Kate Spade for much less than what you’d spend at their flagship stores. You can also pat yourself on the back for shopping sustainably.


Luxe Events

If you’ve always dreamed of a wedding worthy of a royal, then you’d best get in touch with the detail-oriented dream team over at Luxe.

Photo courtesy of Luxe Events

Readers’ Choice | Home


Peabody’s Interiors

This Brown Deer firm’s interior designs have been featured in Architectural Digest and range from contemporary to classic, condominium to cabin, and everything in between.


Natasha Duvall, Keller Williams

Duvall has been a licensed Realtor since 1991 and specializes in the North Shore and East Side, two of the most popular markets in the area.


David J. Frank Landscape Contracting

David J. Frank, who started the company in 1959, passed away last year, but making homes and businesses beautiful runs in this family’s blood. The company’s current president is David R. Frank, the founder’s son.


Bartelt Remodeling

Bartelt, which was started by husband and wife Rick and Chris Bartelt, has a team of designers, carpenters and more, who work closely with homeowners at every step of their remodeling journey.


Badger Home Builders

Tom Langan has designed homes at Badger Home Builders across southeastern Wisconsin for nearly three decades now, and he offers an in-depth view of his impressive models on his YouTube channel.

Readers’ Choice | Best Stores


Cream City Restoration

This local company sells both brand new and lovingly restored vintage furniture – plus light fixtures, textiles and home decor.


Mod Gen

Whether you’re looking for a housewarming gift for a friend or a birthday gift for your mom, you’ll find something worth buying at this Third Ward boutique.



It’s a one-stop shop for just about everything you need for your home – from food and drinks to flowers and home décor. And nearly every store-brand product is top-notch.


Bark N Scratch Outpost

Your pet deserves the absolute best. Fortunately, the owners of this local, independent store stock only the highest-quality pet food, treats and supplies.


Stein’s Garden & Home

Open since 1946, this Milwaukee-based Wisconsin chain is a great resource for gardeners of both the budding and fully bloomed varieties.


American Science and Surplus

Microscopes, models and DIY experiment kits that are both fun and educational? We’re sold!

Readers’ Choice | Personal Care


Groom For Men

The two locations (Third Ward and Shorewood) tailor each hair treatment to a man’s specific grooming needs, whether that’s a simple clean-up with a hot lather shave or a haircut with the works: scalp massage, brow and ear trim, and neck and shoulder rub.

Photo courtesy of Groom for Men


Neroli Salon & Spa

This long-running, locally owned business knows how to roll out the red-carpet experience, from the aromatic towel and beverage service to the menu of aesthetic services, including hair care, massage, makeup application, eyelash extensions and more.


Nail Bar Milwaukee

With a staggering number of amenities available for your nails, including some incredibly indulgent services (think sugar scrub and moisture-rich mask), there is nothing that stands between you and perhaps the best-looking digits in town.


Well Spa + Salon

When you descend to this facility in the Pfister Hotel’s hushed lower level, you feel like the demanding, cacophonic world is completely shut out. That exhilaratingly restful feeling is achieved through the little touches, from heated robes to champagne.


High Brow Boutique

Known for precision and knowledge, the eyebrow, lash and facial service pros who work here are all about achieving that certain, hard-to-match glow. Amenities include henna brow tinting, micro- needling and lash lifts.

Readers’ Choice | Work Outs


The Barre Code

If you’re yearning for a fitness program that’ll make you feel 2 inches taller, with thighs as tight as Misty Copeland’s (Google her), barre is the fitness regimen for you. This national chain (with a location in the Third Ward and Brookfield) combines workouts focusing on cardio, strength and restoration. Members also have access to online barre classes.

Photo courtesy of Barre Code


Hot Yoga Milwaukee

Some like it hot. Literally. This sanctuary for yogis offers multiple styles, including HOT 26 – which uses 26 postures and two breathing exercises – lead in a studio heated to 95 to 105 degrees. Live-streamed classes (plus several free short ones online) are available daily for those who feel more comfortable sweating at home.

Editors’ Picks | Pandemic Awards


Locally Made Masks

The late, great Fred Rogers used to say that when he was a kid and he saw something scary in the news, his mother would tell him to “look for the helpers” – people going out of their way to make life a little easier for the rest of us. During the pandemic, some of those helpers here have been local artisans Madam Chino, Artery Ink and FlyBlooms, who quickly began making affordable, reusable masks to keep Milwaukeeans safe.


Appreciating Your Hairstylist

You sit down at your computer and turn on Zoom. The preview screen pops up, and … oh God no, you look like that? Your hair’s all over the freaking place. With a few desperate swipes, you try to tame those wild locks, but it’s hopeless, and you know it. After only a couple months unchecked, your hair looks awful, and you just can’t bring yourself to follow your bald relatives’ advice and cut it yourself – your limited attempts at self-barbering only made it worse. In your darkest follicular hour, you realize how little you truly appreciated the folks who cut your hair on a (once … and, uh, mostly) regular basis. So thank you to the barbers, stylists – hair-artists, all – for making us look presentable. Now, having spent too many months as hairy cavepeople with bushy side-wings, overgrown bangs and frighteningly natural roots, we say in all honesty and sincerity: We couldn’t do it without you.

Illustration by Lauren Marvell



Being stuck at home makes you hyperaware of your living space’s flaws but doesn’t give you the gumption to fix them. For inspiration, look no further than Alicia and Zach Meyer. In 2018, they bought a 1913 home on Sherman Boulevard and began the massive project of restoring it to its century-ago glory. The Meyers chronicle the paint-peeling, tile-swapping, fixture-installing journey on their Instagram @brewcityfoursquare, and the feed just might have you finally getting down to fixing up your own place.



In the 88 years that Minor’s has been in business, it never dealt with anything quite like 2020. When safer-at-home hit in March, people searched for ways to pass the time in lockdown, and Minor’s provided, while still staying safe. The popular spot quickly instituted curbside and delivery options. Their quick turn salvaged the key spring gardening season and helped make the transition to pandemic living a little easier.


The Driveway Pool

I was not consulted, because I am cheap. My resistance would have been futile anyway. “I ordered a pool!” my wife said midway through this strangest of summers. “On eBay!”

I winced at the mention of the last resort of desperate consumers and the first resort of price gougers.

I should have seen it – it, in our case, being a 10-foot soft-sided pool with treated water and a filter pump – coming. Our neighbors have a similar one, and since they inflated and filled it, the splashy, squealy sounds of childhood summer joy had been coming over the fence for weeks. They landed like taunts to our inadequate work-from-home parenting and like a siren song to our 10-year-old.

It only took one afternoon of seeing the kid and a couple neighborhood buddies laughing and flopping around in our pool to recognize it as the best investment of the summer. For him, it’s a friend magnet and something active to do even on the hottest days. For us, it’s device-free fun with minimal supervision and no rides required.

I left the pool to the kids for a few weeks, but I set my mind to breaking it in for adult use on baseball’s bizarre midsummer opening day. I stepped into the warm, knee-deep water, flopped onto a ridiculous float and streamed Brewers baseball to my driveway oasis, my lazy ass a couple inches above the smooth bottom. The Crew lost, but thanks to my wife, I won.

Illustration by Lauren Marvell


The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse was known for “Paint and Sip” events back in the pre-pandemic days – something that wasn’t remotely an option when COVID first arrived on the scene. Faced with the need to change, they developed one of the best take-home options in the city. They sold at-home painting kits and offered online livestream classes every week with enjoyable themes, such as learning how to paint the Milwaukee skyline in the style of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.


Daniel from Boswell

The toughest question that most small-business owners grappled with this year: How do I keep my business alive without endangering anyone? Daniel Goldin, owner of Boswell Book Co., faced that head-on last March. “We looked at sidewalk pickup, and we said, ‘This isn’t good enough,’” Goldin says. “One of my booksellers strongly felt that we should have a way to do it no-contact.” Boswell implemented a pickup system that allowed one person at a time to retrieve their books from a cart with no person-to-person interaction. On top of that, Boswell employees, including Goldin, began hand-delivering books around metro Milwaukee. To add a silver lining to the dark cloud, they often tossed in a free extra book, recommended based on the other books purchased.

Photo by CJ Foeckler

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s September issue.

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