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2014CriticsShopping

Best Bargain Vinyl Emporium
Antone’s Records

Did you see our January 10 cover story on vinyl, “The Price You Pay”? We’re still outraged a new LP can cost as much as $35, while $1 bins from the Seventies have all but disappeared. Not at Antone’s Records. Need a 40-year-old Butch Hancock album that was only ever a small-press rarity? They have it and won’t gouge you for it. How 'bout that Ellen Foley record where she's backed by the Clash? $3. Sure, their high end includes an unpeeled Beatles “butcher cover,” but Asleep at the Wheel to ZZ Top, you’ll find it all at Antone’s for a song.

Antone's Records, 2928 Guadalupe #101, 512/322-0660, www.antonesrecordshop.com

Best Cheap Sunglasses
Coco Coquette

We just can't help it. Everytime we're at the fabulous "Best of Austin"-award-winning Maison d'Etoile (whether we're getting groomed at the fabulous "Best of Austin"-award-winning Lulu Belle [née Salon d'Etoile], or picking up some glittering vintage piece at the fabulous "Best of Austin"-award-winning Charm School Vintage), we always duck into Coco Coquette in the back of the building to check out the newest, coolest, and cheapest sunglasses in Austin and walk out with some form of divine eyewear. From the chic oversized Ray-Ban-style horn rims to the crystal-covered Lady Gaga solar shields, Coco Coquette owner Allyson Garro always has the goods … for less.

Coco Coquette, 2109 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/344-9173, www.coco-coquette.com

Best Feminist Flamekeeper
Susan Post

It’s hard to imagine what Austin would be like if it hadn’t grown up with BookWoman, and it’s hard to imagine that BookWoman would have grown up at all without Susan Post. For 39 years, co-founder Post has kept up with changing times and shifting locations, all while stocking an inclusive variety of written material and other goodies to appeal to women’s libbers and intersectional post-wavers alike. She’s also maintained a safe, nonjudgmental space for events ranging from Tarot readings to concerts to academic confessionals. The cosmic mother must be happy indeed.

BookWoman, 5501 N. Lamar Ste. 105-A, 512/472-2785, www.ebookwoman.com

Best Foundations
Kylie Jack and Kirk Andrews for Petticoat Fair

Tweeting angrily about her treatment as a trans woman at intimate apparel shop, Petticoat Fair, Kylie Jack captured the attention of the Internet, the community, and the shop's owner Kirk Andrews. While supporters of both sides duked it out on social media, the two parties quietly agreed to meet and discuss the matter like the civil creatures they are. Jack and Andrews solicited the wisdom of trans activists Transgender Education Network of Texas founder Lisa Scheps and national Human Rights Campaign board member Meghan Stabler, and the confab resulted in a foundation of trust and an agreement to host an informative "Trans 101" session for Andrews and his staff.

Petticoat Fair, 7739-M Northcross, 512/454-2900, www.petticoatfair.com

Kylie Jack, www.kyliejack.com

Best Frozen Foods for Lonely People
Trader Joe's

In years past, you just grabbed a bottle of Two Buck Chuck in preparation for what seemed like the inevitable evening activity - Sophie's Choice (again) with Eric … the cat. But not so, since Trader Joe's opened in Austin! Now you can have steak-and-ale pie and mushroom mochi with your wartime weepy. Of course, Eric will still be there, hanging on every agonized look Meryl Streep gives. And you'll still be there, less drunk, more full.

Trader Joe's, 2805 Bee Caves Rd., 512/306-1032, www.traderjoes.com

Trader Joe's, 9722 Great Hills, 512/241-1248, www.traderjoes.com

Best Guitar Shop Disguised as a Pawn Shop
CashAmerica (South Lamar Location)

South Lamar was at one time a haven for musical instrument stores and muffler shops. But as developers have gone thermonuclear in their land-grabbing and driven rents to extremes, one of the last bastions of the glory days is the former Doc Holliday's Pawn Shop, now a CashAmerica. You are more likely to score a sweet Telecaster or Marshall 4x12 here than a camera or microwave, so thoroughly has the guitar and amp stock taken over the floor space. Prices are always reasonable, and the store's annual SXSW sales are legendary. They're only one repair department away from being full-service.

Cash America Pawn, 611 S. Lamar, 512/443-7787, www.cashamerica.com

Best Hi-Fidelity
Sound Gallery

When shopping for the machines that transmit the grooved language of vinyl to your eardrums, Austinites have options, but nowhere has the eye-bugging selection of Sound Gallery. Boisterous owner, and former Nails frontman, Marc Campbell matches his larger-than-life personality with a massive museum-like showroom of lovingly restored vintage record players, receivers, and speakers – the crown jewel of which is the modernist template Braun SK4 turntable, which exemplifies Sound Gallery's style-meets-function calling card. Coffee, wine, and LPs also available.

Sound Gallery, 4930 S. Congress, 512/745-7917, www.soundgalleryaustin.com

Best Home Away From Home
Friends and Neighbors

Hanging out at your friend's house is cool, but they generally frown when you walk away with their stuff. Unless of course you are friends with Friends and Neighbors. Buy bath products in the bathroom or a Zilla bag in the living room, and then celebrate with a mimosa from the kitchen. It's like shopping in your most fashionable BFF's cottage. They even host game nights!

Friends and Neighbors, 2614 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/524-1271, www.friendsaustin.com

Best Kinkification
Tapelenders

While Tapelenders has always had one in the pink and one in the stink, under new management they now have one in the kink as well. This little-shop-that-could has expanded beyond the basic to incorporate every color of the rainbow and hanky code. Now featuring official Tom of Finland merch, gear from Mr. S Leather, and much more, there is a greater variety of queer gear to choose from.

Tapelenders Video, 1114 W. Fifth #201, 512/472-0844, www.tapelenders.com

Best Neighborhood Grocery Store
Crestview Minimax IGA

Opened in 1953 by the Prellop family (who still own the store), Crestview is the last of about a dozen Minimax stores under the Independent Grocers Alliance franchise umbrella that once dotted Austin. Don't see something you want? Ask the managers, there's a good chance they can order it for you. Does your teenager need a first job? What a great place to start off in the working world. Is Crestview Minimax IGA a throwback to the Fifties, or an integral part of the North Central Austin neighborhood and part of what makes Austin weird? Well, there's nothing weird about a great selection, decent prices, and friendly staff.

Crestview Minimax - IGA, 7108 Woodrow, 512/459-6203, www.crestview.iga.com

Best New Kid on the Vintage Block
Revival Vintage

Don't let its small size fool you: This store has a little bit of everything in vintage clothing, accessories, decor, and furniture. Plus, the prices are decent. Established online in 2010 via an Etsy site it still maintains (Revival Vintage ATX), the store – last year in the still-quirky-after-all-these-years North Loop strip – with a solid selection across the midcentury-to-Nineties style spectrum. Proprietor Sonia Rife features works by local artisans, and, we don't mind saying, is friendly, helpful, and has great taste in music.

Revival Vintage, 100 E. North Loop, 512/524-2029, www.etsy.com

Best New SoCo Hangout
The TOMS Store

When TOMS sought to open their second store in the U.S., they looked no further than eclectic catch-all, South Congress. The TOMS Store Austin is a retail and coffee shop hybrid located in a gorgeous, repurposed house and no surprise to TOMS customers or SoCo flaneurs: a cozy bohemian vibe. The space is open, airy, bright and offers the perfect escape from the street. Grab a bag of their Carpe Diem espresso beans to-go, or order a drink and take a breather. And just like the shoes, any purchase made at this establishment – shoes, shades, or sacks of beans – helps another in need.

TOMS Austin, 1401 S. Congress, 512/350-2115, www.toms.com/toms-stores

Best Place for Sweatin' With the Oldies
Modern Salvage

We love to thrift. But sometimes we get frustrated with our options: limited, possibly overpriced vintage establishments or true junk stores that feature eclectic goods in dusty jumbles with undertones of toxic mold. Both can be as packed as a Hoarders house, though without the tragedy and gross things. Not so at roomy, organized Modern Salvage, which sells some prized stuff: vintage furniture, Snoopy things, terrific clothes, box handbags, a modern player piano (what?), the odd Hobart dishwasher, landline phones, record albums, and a healthy amount of Texana, including a stuffed pony with a tricolor Texas "brand" on its hindquarters. The airiness might have something to with the fact that the warehouse isn't air-conditioned, but some of us prefer to have to sweat for our treasures.

Modern Salvage, 7718 Springdale, 512/215-4425, www.modernsalvage.net

Best Reusables
State Surplus Property Store

If you’re looking for that pocketknife that was confiscated at the airport by Homeland Security, you just might find it, or an exact replica, here at the state surplus property store. Not only does the store have seized objects from airports like knives, wrenches, and the occasional cricket bat, but they also sell unclaimed lost-and-found items among the warehouse of used state equipment ranging from gray metal desks to former police cars all at bargain prices. Police cars! Start your Christmas shopping now.

State Surplus Property Store, 6506 Bolm, 512/463-1990, www.tfc.state.tx.us

Best Synth Superstore
Switched On Electronics

Anyone with an ear for gear and at least one Brian Eno record knows that Switched On Electronics is the best synthesizer store in Austin and possibly the universe. John French and Chad Allen's emporium of electronic music tools boasts a mouthwatering stock of synths, samplers, drum machines, effects modules, amplifiers, and other gadgetry that makes Switched On a Mecca for electro and experimental composers. The recently relocated business also has a world-class repair shop that employs five specialized techies who were trusted to tune up the University of Texas' priceless Wavemaker.

Switched On Music Electronics, 2400 E. Cesar Chavez, #200, 512/782-8806, www.switchedonaustin.com

Best Way to Party Local
J & J Spirits

You don't always need a warehouse to have a party. The proof is in J & J's carefully curated shelves of brews, spirits, and mixers. The difference is in the owner's devotion to all things local and handcrafted. There's shrubs from Liber & Co. and gin from Genius, and the best local vodka selection this side of Moscow. Plus they are stocked full of local minis when you want to rep ATX while traveling out of state.

J and J Spirits, 1131 E. 11th, 512/472-5328, www.jandjspirits.com

Best Way to Put Your Best Foot Forward
Sockwork

Sockwork's convenient subscription service knows it will knock your socks off. That's why it keeps sending you more. Choose classic or fun styles – or a mix of both – and then go about your day. Soon, you'll get a little box that will warm your tootsies. And the owners will donate 10% of the proceeds to veterans' groups to warm your heart. Now, get ready to show a little ankle.

Sockwork, 972/415-5123, www.sockwork.com

Best Way to Suit Your Fancy
Dandy's

With Dandy's around, we'd never tell you to suit yourself. For around the price of an off-the-rack threepiece, the Downtown clothier will fulfill all your bespoke fantasies. Don't forget to accessorize with the shop's exclusive collection of bow ties, brogues, and bowlers. There's even a grooming section to help tame that manly beard. We guarantee you'll clean up nicely.

Dandy's The Gentleman's Store, 411 Brazos, 512/999-8196, www.dandysuit.com

Handiest Solution to "No Wire Hangers!"
Heirloom Hangers

Every bride wants a shot of her wedding dress hanging on the door. But those plastic hangers you buy in bulk at Target? Not photogenic. Wire hangers? Heaven forbid. Local wedding shutterbug Ashley Garmon – clever gal – saw a need and decided to satisfy it herself by starting a side business, Heirloom, that produces elegant, hand-crafted hangers. Made in Texas, the hangers are customized for each client, built to last (erm, lasting marriage not included), and ready for their close-up.

Heirloom Hangars, www.heirloom-shop.com

Critics: Services
2014 Intro
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)