SoHa retail is kind of booming. The Southampton neighborhood has seen an influx of serviceable businesses along Macklind from about Bonita all the way north to January.

Here are some businesses I patronized on my Christmas break:

Big River Running Company:
To celebrate my 1 year anniversary of cigarette free living, I decided to take up running. I could never be accused of being a health nut. In fact, I've never jogged on purpose. Granted, I've run from things and people over the years, but never thought of running as something I'd like to do as a hobby. That all changed when I walked by Big River located at 5352 Devonshire. What a nice storefront and setup. I walked in to browse and spoke to a salesperson who was extremely energetic and informative about the world of running. I was invigorated by their optimism. I decided to lay down some big $ on a nice pair of running shoes. I've been enjoying my evening and early morning jogs through Carondelet Park and the River Des Peres Greenway. This is the kind of business where the sales reps believe in what they are doing and I don't mind spending money at places like that. They are open until 7:00 on weeknights too!

Nature's Aglow:
My wife is big on burning candles, so we made the turn from Big River north on Devonshire to Nature's Aglow. This is a shop that sells 100% soy candles made in DeSoto, MO. Being a student of agriculture, I am interested in creative uses for renewable crops. These candles are made from 100% soybeans, as opposed to paraffin, which is oil based. Hence, this is renewable, supports farmers as opposed to oil drillers/refiners, it is soot free, burns cooler (not hot to the touch), cleaner and longer. It is easier to clean up if you spill the wax. They even pour the soy wax and set a wick in the lids of the glass jar candles, so it is not wasted. I can get behind all that. We had the Big River bag in hand, and when the store clerk noticed at checkout, he offered us a 10% discount for shopping at the Macklind retails shops. Nice.

Manzo's Importing Company:
Then we stopped in Manzo's to check it out. They too immediately offered the 10% discount for shopping locally. We browsed through the delectable offerings from Italy, Turkey, Greece, Albania, etc. We took a chance on the homemade rosemary & garlic sausage, fontinella cheese and homemade, spreadable feta dip. The clerk was easy and enthusiastic with free samples and suggestions. We now have a new place for all our Mediterranean cooking needs. The sausage was freakin' great. Very little fat, just enough to make it sausage. We've been back and will continue to shop here.

There are other great place within the Macklind retail row. Murdoch Perk for a nice cup of joe, or breakfast anytime. Home Eco at 4611 Macklind is another great place to check out. We get all our corn oil-based composting bags here. The Mackling Ave. Deli has a nice selection of import brews and decent lunch time offerings. Onesto is quality, fresh and tasty.

So take a stroll and check some of these places out if you haven't already. This is the kind of strip that St. Louis needs more of in spades. Enjoy the Southampton neighborhood.