OK so let’s get this out of the way: In this year’s Best Of Baltimore issue, we named Charles Street between 25th Street and North Avenue—partially it’s Charles Village/Charles North and partially it’s Old Goucher and ostensibly it’s kind of Station North—Best Confusing Shopping District, because indeed, there are plenty of places around there whose existence baffles us. We wrote: “Why is this bakery only open two hours a week? Why does this storefront just have a lonely church hat and phone number in the window? Does this place sell office supplies or religious art?” We weren’t complaining, just wondering aloud, you know? Plus, there are plenty of places to shop that are less confusing and really pretty singular to the city including rakish, Afrocentric clothing store Ash Shakur (2114 N. Charles St.,  837-4031); RAD Boutique (2117 N. Charles St., facebook.com/radbmore), which is kind of like encountering the weird net-art corner of Etsy IRL (there’s also a number of other curated clothing stores around this area); the new music instrument store Brothers Music (2112 N. Charles St.,  212-5328, brothersmusicbaltimore.com); the new head shop Headspace (2116 N. Charles St.,  885-9980, headspacebaltimore.com); and Oyin Handmade (2103 N. Charles St.,  601-3198, oyinhandmade.com), one of the most fascinating and slept-on businesses in the city—a natural hair and body products store that does a lot of its business via mail order (also you can get some of its products at the Whole Foods in Harbor East) that has recently extended its hours beyond Saturdays.
And right near North Avenue is the sex shop PERVfect Playground (2011 N. Charles St.,  814-8972, pervfectplayground.com) and across from the Ynot Lot are the gentlemen that sell a number of secondhand goods from clothes to video tapes along with photos of black heroes from Marcus Garvey to Muhammad Ali to Bob Marley. There’s also a Gamestop (2436 N. Charles St.,  366-9054, gamestop.com) near 25th Street, so if you’ve got an unadventurous snot-nosed kid on your shopping list, go there. Not to mention, just wandering around this part of Charles Street for no good reason is pretty fascinating too. The Safeway was once a Cadillac dealership and there are still remnants of it on the building’s exterior. A little farther down is Galerie Myrtis (2224 N. Charles St.,  235-3711, galeriemyrtis.net), and there’s the WYPR building where you can wait outside and hope for the dreamy Aaron Henkin to strut by. And near North Avenue, there’s what was once the legendary Baltimore leather bar the Eagle (formerly at 2022 N. Charles St.). If you’re hungry, we recommend Mi Comalito (2101 N. Charles St.,  837-6033), along with any of the numerous Korean spots nearby such as Crown Seoul (1910 N. Charles St.,  625-4747) or Jong Kak (18 W. 20th St.,  837-5231). (Brandon Soderberg)
Double 8 Arm Perc bowl ($180), Headspace, 2116 N. Charles St., (443) 885-9980
Triple bubbler ($69), Headspace, 2116 N. Charles St., (443) 885-9980
Hamburger jumper ($38), RAD Boutique, 2117 N. Charles St., facebook.com/radbmore
Zuko brand T-shirt designed by Zbigniew ($25), RAD Boutique, 2117 N. Charles St., facebook.com/radbmore
ProCo Fat RAT Distortion pedal, ($180), Brothers Music, 2112 N. Charles St., (667) 212-5328, brothersmusicbaltimore.com
Taylor Big Baby acoustic guitar ($375), Brothers Music, 2112 N. Charles St., (667) 212-5328, brothersmusicbaltimore.com