1999 Readers Poll
1999 Critics Picks
Best Antiques

The winner, year after year, hands-down - So let's just check our definitions. When something is no longer brand-new and somebody, somewhere might think it isn't entirely lame - that's thrift. When something is extremely old and general consensus says, "This totally rocks!" that is an antique. And whether it's jeweled straight razors or smartly upholstered club chairs or a particularly ornate flying buttress we seek, Whit Hanks is the first place our readers go to find it.

1009 W. Sixth

Best Art Supplies

Don't come in here looking for faux flowers or little wooden geese to pretty up your dining nook. These are supplies, and lots of them, for the serious artist or student. All the major players in paints and inks and papers and boards are represented here, the basic and the sublime among pencils, pastels, and markers, a fine niche of silkscreen gear, you name it. It's a smallish shop, but it's dense with just the right material for so many different projects.

Asel Art Supply
218 W. MLK

Best Bookstore

Readers know homegrown quality when they see it. And now those folks flying into Austin can see it too, thanks to the branch at the new airport. BookPeople combines the broad scope and munchies appeal of those national chains with the hometown funkiness and informed staff of smaller shops. When readers want to sit a spell in a well-worn easy chair or find the obscure tome they're craving, they head to this repository as they have year after year.

603 N. Lamar

Best Comics Or Specialty Books

It's like trying to figure out who'd win a fight: Superman or The Mighty Thor? Both these popular stores are stocked to the rafters with comics, comics, comics, and books about comics. Ranging from silly-animal fanzines and superhero compilations to adult-themed graphic novels and indie alterna-views, flanked by figurines of vampires and elves and robots, tended by folks who live this stuff and could easily tell you, for instance, the current market value of Journey Into Mystery #83. Looking for Eightball? Artbabe? Jimmy Corrigan? Seek, and ye shall find.

Austin Books & Comics
5002 N. Lamar

Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy
2438 W. Anderson Ste. B-1

Best Drugstore

No wonder Austin loves Nau's. The cashier who reminds us of cookies baking greets everyone with a smile at this Clarksville cornerstone. Sodajerks mix concoctions from a real fountain while making a mean chorizo-and-egg taco at the ever-popular lunch counter. We love browsing through the gifts before finally buying some Blackjack gum at the ancient register that clicks, clangs, then spits open the change drawer. This old-time drugstore reminds us of easy days, as we wander through the aisles of cards, sundries, medicine, and memories.

Best Furnishings/Home

Your Living Room? In your dreams, pally; you should be so tasteful. But if you're in the mood and money to consider furnishing those dreams, check out this stunning array of interior home designs featuring such local artisans as Eddie Myers, Judd Graham, and Gerard Less. It's metal, it's wood, it's glass, it's leather, it's too well-made for words.

Your Living Room
220 S. Congress

Best Gift Shop

Oooooooooh, trying to find that perfect thing for that special someone can be such a drag sometimes. But now you have not one, not even two, but three fabulous "Best of" winners to choose from. Emeralds and Le Cadeau have duked it out as your favorites for quite a while. This year they're joined by new contender, For All Seasons, who carry everything from jewelry to wind chimes to really cool glass hummingbird feeders, in a three-way tie. One of these three places is bound to have that perfect gift for your loved one - and hey, while no one's looking - one for yourself!

The Cadeau
2316 Guadalupe

For All Seasons
4006 S. Lamar

Best Jewelry

Maybe it was that Christmas TV commercial with the sweet little lisping girl that got your attention. More likely it was the watches and bracelets and pearls, oh my! Or the loose diamonds (So that's where that band name comes from!) or engagement rings or the 14k gold choices. Or could it have been the sterling silver selection or the necklaces or the variety of watch lines? Whatever gems and jewels you're seeking, Russell Korman is the place you picked to find them.

Russell Korman Jewelers
3806 N. Lamar

Best Lingerie/Naughty

"If they say it's not about sex, it's about sex," said some senator during the Clinton unmentionables. No hypocrisy here - these hot spots are about pure, unabashed sex, and it is gloriously shameless. Wanna compare a whale penis with that of a goat? Need a new nipple clip? How about a tattoo for, uh, Mr. Johnson? These one-stop sanctuaries have everything a quivering body desires.

Best Liquor Store

With stores both north and south, Reuben's is there to serve your tastebuds and supply your accoutrements. From cactus donned 'rita glasses to 20-year-old tawny ports, Reuben's has it. Creaking wooden floors and friendly conversations with staff are both elements of seven-time BOAer Wiggy's effervescent charm. There's no better place in town to discuss the existential meaning of drinking a particular bourbon than inside Wiggy's on a sunny afternoon.

Reuben's Liquors
107 W. Stassney

1130 W. Sixth

Best Music Business

... five, six, pick up sticks (drumsticks, that is), and maybe a music book or recorder or piano or organ or whatever your little musical heart desires. This is the sixth year "Strait" (We had to use that stale old joke again; we just had to!) for this no-longer-flood-threatened music biz, and in Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World, that's saying a lot.

Strait Music Co.
3201 Bee Caves Rd., Suite 140
13945 Hwy. 183 N., 512/918-3743

Best Pawn Shop

Hey! It's the wild, wild West meets wild, wild surplus weed-eaters! Maybe you seek a Best of the Oak Ridge boys album? Or perhaps a pearl-toned squeezebox is more your speed. Or trumpet? Or cornet? Or a reliable, sharper-than-your-average pawnshop staff who can tell you the difference?

Doc Holliday's Pawn Shop/Cash America
611 S. Lamar

Best Pet Store

It's like Sixth Street for pets! We can take our animals to this huge pet store to hang out, socialize with other cute canines, and pick out food and accessories that all the coolest kitties are using these days. Plus, they can get neutered and vaccinated cheaply by the in-store vets, eliminating the risks associated with getting down and getting funky in the aisles (just like Sixth Street! Wait - no -).

1628 Ohlen, 512/835-7221
5400 Brodie, 512/892-3297
2601 S. IH-35 Pad E, Round Rock, 512/218-1816

Best Record Store

These folks know and love music, and they support it through frequent in-store performances of musicians with new releases, while the free beer flows. They're batting seven for seven with this win. Their selection is amazing enough to keep the likes of Hayes McCauley, KUT's Friday night world music host, entertained; he works there along with a bunch of other wonderful characters.

Waterloo Records
600-A N. Lamar

photo by John Anderson

Best Thrift/Vintage

Goodwill's going online with their really fine stuff, but it's still downright amazing what people donate, and what can be yours for dimes to the dollar. Enough good can't be said about the worthwhile works of this nationwide nonprofit; your business truly does make a difference. Though Goodwill perennially leads the thrift pack, this year it shares honors with Flipnotics, the apparel companion of the popular coffeehouse, whose downstairs back room purveys a small but smart vintage clothing collection.

Main office: 1015 Norwood Park Blvd.

Best Used Books

The perennial favorite place to leave with more books than you arrived with to sell. Old, new, obscure, antiquated, and more, it's all here. Not to mention a terrific calendar selection and a kids section that can keep the tykes occupied for as long as you can browse. At these prices, we all come away happy, too.

Half-Price Books
3110 Guadalupe

Best Western/Tack

The name may conjure up images of a cozy little backwoods trading post, but don't let it fool you. Callahan's is a hypermodern superstore, a Western Wal-Mart for all of your feed, seed, tack, farmware, houseware, and hardware needs. It also has a great clothing and boot department, one that'll please urban cowboys as well as seasoned ranch hands. And the staff is so friendly and helpful that you may start to feel like you're actually in a cozy little backwoods trading post after all.

Readers: Services
Critics: Architecture & Lodging

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