Shopping
2000 Readers Poll
2000 Critics Picks
Best 99¢ Vinyl

The back room at Sound Exchange is chock-full of used 99¢ vinyl that no one seems to notice, but those of us with turntables and perseverance can make out with some excellent finds. Although collector's items are few and far between, Eighties cheeze metal mavens will have a field day. After all, wouldn't you rather pay 99¢ for a Great White LP instead of going through the humiliation of picking it up on CD?

Best Alternative For Ebay Junkies Without A Computer

"Is it a lamp, or is it a birdhouse? You decide!" Sometimes that's the best description the denizens of Auction Access can come up with at 4am, and who can blame them? The newest, most fascinating insomniac attraction in town is this one-camera, "home game version" of eBay, airing 11pm-6am most Sunday-Thursday nights way up on cable channel 75. Most of the stuff on their tattered shelves is knickknacks and factory-outlet effluvia, but it's the broken garage-sale rejects ("One wing's missing off this ceramic sparrow, but it's still something NO ONE SHOULD BE WITHOUT!") that make the show impossible to turn off. And yes, people bid on everything - even the flying-impaired bird fetched a dollar! Our big question: How many of the winning bidders actually remember making their purchase the next morning? Pick-up hours 3-11pm.

Auction Access
2112 Rundberg #185
512/832-8777

Best Candidate For Nickname "the Arboretum Central"

Remember the good old days? You know, back when "pedestrian-friendly" meant sidewalks, not suburban-style shopping malls? Those days are long gone, pal, and by the looks of the crowded parking lots already surrounding the outdoor megamall at Sixth and Lamar, a fair number of Austinites are saying good riddance. Seemingly overnight, a satellite of the (ineptly named) North Austin commercial nexus known as the Arboretum has landed smack dab in the center of Austin, bringing with it an Office Depot, Chico's women's store, a soon-to-come 12-screen multiplex, and a Starbucks, to boot.

Best Chain Pet Supply

Okay, the downside to those charming indie pet stores is they just don't offer the miles of aisles and discount cards for the myriad economy packages of Wee-Wee Pads® we had to buy while training the new pups. That and the endless varieties of chew toys (anything to get them away from the sandals!). Petco also sells and stocks supplies for birds, rabbits, fish, mice, ferrets, and more. The 41st Street location offers grooming, vaccination clinics, and obedience classes.

Petco
1000 E. 41st, 512/419-0311
9828 Great Hills, 512/345-2355
5601 Brodie, 512/892-3996

Best Cowboy Regalia

With eager waitstaff who look like they're on their lunch break from the rodeo, minus the dust, this is the place to go for Texas belt buckles, cowboy hats, and boots, did we mention boots? Miles of them, each more two-steppable than the last. An urban cowboy's (or cowgirl's) dream.

Allens Boots
1522 S. Congress
512/447-1413
www.allensboots.com

Best Dirt On Dirt

When we were inquiring about what dirt would be best for mud wrestling (loam, it turns out), these professional soil purveyors didn't bat an eyelash.

Aus-Tex Garden Supply
5101 Burnet
512/459-7311

Best Futons

All futon frames are not created equal. Some fly-by-night manufacturers use cheap wood and tiny nails you wouldn't hang a $3 clock with, but you won't find such shoddy workmanship at Texas Futon Company. This family-owned shop offers a variety of extra-solid wooden and metal frames at very affordable prices. Mattresses are covered by five- and 10-year warranties, and TFC's selection of futon covers is superlative. Don't buy a new futon before stopping here.

Texas Futon Company
5440 Burnet Rd., 512/459-6666
2300 S. Lamar, 512/442-5444
www.thefutonstoreaustin.com

Best Head Space

Sound Exchange is bigger, Alien is more specialized, and Waterloo has an actual stage for its in-stores, but no other local new and used record store does more with its "head" room. Specializing in music for Austin's notoriously cross-armed music intelligentsia - categories include "psychedelic," "gothic," "jazz improv," "garage punk," "experimental," "composers," and "techno" - Thirty Three Degrees also manages to be the perfect (Hyde Park) neighborhood music store, having relocated from San Jacinto in '97. Hosting lots of free, eclectic, and underground cool in-stores (great acoustics!), and sporting the best poster window in town, shop where the hipsters go to be ahead of the curve.

Best Hidden Art Gallery Worth Searching For

Yes, it's really a gift shop, not an "art gallery," and yes, it's in the Arboretum. But that's no reason to shy away from Artisans, where you'll find tons of unique, handcrafted treasures and friendly, personal, totally un-stuck-up service no matter what your price range is. Although we've sought out Artisans every Christmas since discovering it tucked away on the top floor of the Arboretum three years ago, we've recently started venturing there for birthdays, anniversaries, and pretty much any time we're in the area. With the work of 250 artists to see and prices ranging from about $10 to the upper $1,000s, it's hard to walk away empty handed.

The Artisans
10000 Research, # 258
512/345-3001

Best High-end Bargain Hunting

Armani, Gucci, Prada. Where's a girl to get her couture fix at bargain prices? Head south to the Brodie Oaks shopping center and Last Call from Neiman Marcus. There you'll find racks and racks of designer duds marked down to more reasonable prices. Need a to-die-for evening gown? No problem. Purse and shoes to match? They've got those too. Don't forget to sign up for their mailing list - they don't advertise their specials.

Last Call from Neiman Marcus
4115 S Capital of Texas
512/447-0701

Best Home-Away-From-Home Greeting

There are few locations that inspire such fear and loathing in a college freshman as the University Co-Op. The infamous textbook lines have been ranked right up there with the DMV and the post office but, unlike those places, the Co-Op has always had a reputation for hiring friendly employees. No one, however, is friendlier than Virginia Flowers - Itto to her friends - who has greeted the shoppers at the doors of the University Co-Op for almost a decade now. On a street where smiles are often returned with sneers, Ms. Flowers' warm welcome is as comforting as milk and chocolate chip cookies. Even college students (come to think of it: especially college students) depend on the kindness of strangers, and we thank Ms. Flowers (and the enduring Co-Op) for making sure the Drag doesn't become just that.

Virginia Flowers
University Co-op
2244 Guadalupe

Best Hot Stuff To Add To A Bath

Small homegrown businesses hit or miss, but local Natural Therapeutics is hitting the bull's-eye packaging and distributing some hot stuff from Austin, and it's not salsa! It's mustard bath! In traditional medicine, mustard is renowned for its stimulating, cleansing, and rejuvenating qualities, and this product is highly regarded amongst health-care professionals and bath connoisseurs alike. Believe us, it makes you tingle all over, and that's a good thing. According to UPS and FedEx drivers, it's one of the busiest cottage industries in town. Available at Whole Foods, Sun Harvest, and other specialty shops; catalog upon request.

Best Office Mascot

The jackalope-part jack rabbit, part antelope, part legend-is now a beloved office mascot. The fine folks down at Nourzads decided to make this little fuzzy and ferocious fella their office right-hand - errrr, -paw, man. Featured last year in a series of mailouts titled "Adventures of the Office Jackalope," the jackalope took mailboxes by storm. Check out their Web site to see what's going on with the fuzzy little guy.

Nourzads
115 E . Fiftth, Suite 300
512/479-6237
www.nourzads.com

Best Place To Buy A Suit To Get Married In

On our wedding day, we want to look like a million bucks. For about a hundred. We like funky vintage, but Mom would faint - where we might see an entire layer of classic fashion nostalgia, all she'd see is "old suit." Thank goodness for Second Looks. How they find their gorgeous, up-to-the-latest styles suits we do not know (robbing CEOs' closets?), but we do know that they make us look fabulous. Bring on the wedding day. We're ready.

Second Looks Men's Resale
Brodie Oaks, 4107 S. Capital of Texas Highway, 512/442-9797
8108 Mesa Dr., 512/345-5222
8108 Mesa Drive, Suite B-102, 512/345-5222

Best Place To Find Computer Adaptors

So you just bought a snazzy new PCI mouse for that old hunk of junk you call your computer. Thing is, your old box doesn't have a PCI port, only an old-fashioned serial one. This is the kind of situation that makes Tinkertronics seem like The Final Solution. They've got the ultimate wall of pronged and plug things in well-organized aisles, and if you can't find it yourself, rest assured that one of Tinkertronics' expert helpers can. And if you're ready to part ways with the old one, Tinkertronics has all the latest and greatest computer supplies to build you a speed machine on the spot.

Tinkertronics
2600 McHale Ct.
512/719-3560
www.tinkertronics.com

Best Potpourri

It's hard to say which is more alluring about this gallery of furniture and artifacts: Is it the meandering succession of room after room of South American treasures? Or is it the enticing, citrusy aroma that gently wafts out the door as you pass by? We think it's the aroma first, the goods second. The orange-and-cinnamon potpourri is made on the premises, so it permeates the entire gallery with its pungent, spicy fragrance. Along with the gorgeous furniture and giftware available for purchase, the potpourri is perfectly packaged to make it an ideal housewarming gift. Or go one step further and choose a beautiful receptacle for the bagged bouquet of naturally perfumed botanicals, and make it a gift that's beautiful to behold and beautiful to inhale.

Mi Casa Gallery
1700 S. Congress
512/707-9797
www.micasagallery.com

Best Resident Store Baby

The cutest, most charming, sensitive, and hilarious baby ever to take up residence in the back of a vintage clothing store is toddler Johnny Lee. He entertains customers with arm-raising, smile-flashing antics while his mom runs her cool shop. Johnny Lee's room is also the dressing room; so if he's napping in there, you have to be quiet while you change.

Rock Island Line
215 North Loop Blvd
512/467-9144

Best Thrift Store Strip

Instructions for the bargain shopper: once all the garage sales are picked over, the thrift stores should just be opening, so if you still have that urge, start at the 4900 block of Burnet and keep going north until your car's full and/or you're out of money, exhausted, sated.

Next to New
5435 Burnet
512/459-1288
www.next2new.org

Best Thrift Store Strip

Instructions for the bargain shopper: once all the garage sales are picked over, the thrift stores should just be opening, so if you still have that urge, start at the 4900 block of Burnet and keep going north until your car's full and/or you're out of money, exhausted, sated.

Top Drawer Thrift
4902 Burnet Rd.
512/454-5161
www.topdrawerthrift.org

Best Thrift Store Strip

USE THIS BLURB!!! Instructions for the bargain shopper: Once all the garage sales are picked over, the thrift stores should just be opening, so if you still have that urge, start at the 4900 block of Burnet and keep going north until your car's full and/or you're out of money, exhausted, sated.

Best Thrift Store Strip

Instructions for the bargain shopper: once all the garage sales are picked over, the thrift stores should just be opening, so if you still have that urge, start at the 4900 block of Burnet and keep going north until your car's full and/or you're out of money, exhausted, sated.

Saint Michael's Academy Thrift Shop
5907 Burnet
512/323-2001

Best Thrift Store Strip

Instructions for the bargain shopper: Once all the garage sales are picked over, the thrift stores should just be opening, so if you still have that urge, start at the 4900 block of Burnet and keep going north until your car's full and/or you're out of money, exhausted, sated.

Good Samaritan Thrift Center
5111 Burnet
512/451-2652

Best Thrift Store Strip

Instructions for the bargain shopper: once all the garage sales are picked over, the thrift stores should just be opening, so if you still have that urge, start at the 4900 block of Burnet and keep going north until your car's full and/or you're out of money, exhausted, sated.

Second Blessing Marketplace
6506 Burnet
512/374-9393

Best Timeout From "cool" Stores

Everyone's all worked up about small businesses getting pushed out by the likes of Wal-Mart, et. al, but what about the blight to the department store? As people put a French accent on Target, dah-ling, the make-up counters of Sears beckon, calling us back to this endearingly unhip blast from the past.

Sears
1000 E. 41st. St.
512/459-2326

Best Unexpected Place To Find Furry Love

If you've tried the Town Lake animal shelter and Austin's Humane Society and haven't found the cold, wet nose of your dreams, you might try some of Austin's less-publicized animal rescue groups. Some cover a variety of animals, while others are breed-specific to greyhounds, Dalmatians, Labradors, etc. ... Call to find that special someone to lick your toes, fetch, purr, scratch, and clean your plate.

Austin Pets Alive!
1156 W. Cesar Chavez
512/961-6519
www.austinpetsalive.org

Blue Dog Rescue
512/689-6328

Animal Trustees of Austin
512/302-0388

House Rabbit Resource Network
PO Box 2381, Pflugerville, TX 78691
Pflugerville
512/444-3277
www.rabbitresource.org

Underdog Rescue
512/585-7297

Humane Society of Williamson County
10930 E. Crystal Falls Pkwy.
Leander
512/260-3602

Central Texas SPCA
909 S. Bagdad
Leander
512/260-7722
www.centraltexasspca.org

Best Used CDs

The Drag, the Drag, the Drag is the answer to Technophilia's location prayers. Having spent seven years in the Bluebonnet Plaza just around the corner next to Inner Sanctum (where Starbucks is now), this tiny used CD vanity shop relocated three years ago to one of the highest foot-traffic areas in Austin - a few doors down from Tower Records. Talk about a student's dream. Owner Frank Hilbolt is about to celebrate 10 years of recycling CDs, and with business booming as new releases at bargain prices find their way into his Dragbound hole in the wall, another decade is in the bag, the bag, the bag.

Technophilia
2418 Guadalupe
512/477-1812
www.io.com/~technoph/

Best Welcome To The Neighborhood

When Central Market opened their store south of the river, it wished to say howdy and welcome to its neighbors. Now, this isn't exactly a new concept in retailing; most places have a grand opening that often includes door prizes, special sales, etc. Well, these folks engendered a whole lot of good neighborly feeling and instant loyalty by mailing coupon books to thousands of folks in the surrounding ZIP codes. And by coupons, we ain't talkin' no stinkin' 50¢ off this or that. No my friend, we mean free pound of coffee, free rotisserie chicken, $5 off fish purchase, etc. Now that's what we call coupons! Neighbors everywhere were calling each other to find out who had received their coupons and wheeling and dealing for trades. Welcome, indeed.

Central Market South
4477 S. Lamar
512/899-4300
centralmarket.com/austin-westgate-events-and-menus

Best Year-round Winter Wonderland

One hundred degrees in the shade, and Christmas is still seven months away? Jump in the sleigh and head on down to the Pecan Square Emporium, where every day is Christmas Eve and there's always a bit of snow dusting the ground. It may be blazing summer outside, but inside the Emporium it's a dim, comforting 75 degrees - the perfect environment to get lost for hours amid hundreds of unique nutcrackers, handmade and collectible ornaments, scale-model Christmas-themed houses, and handcrafted Spanish nativities. Whether you're stocking up on gifts or just looking around, this offbeat gift shop is a perfect place to hear those sleigh bells jinglin' all year long.

Pecan Square Emporium
1122 W. Sixth
512/477-4900

Coolest Old Wedding Gowns

Gibson girl or flower child, this shop has the "something old" part covered. When Vera Wang doesn't quite cut it for you, Rex will outfit you in vintage fantasies of laces and satins, and the walk down the aisle embraces the future as well as the glorious past.

Ivory Aisles
2032 S. Lamar
512/444-6484

Most Helpful Auto Parts Store

Some of us love our Japanese imports and can't let go, even if they were built when Jimmy Carter was president. But sometimes the faces behind those chain store counters go blank when we bring our worn parts in for replacement. At Van's, discontinued items are more like a challenge. They'll cross-check to see if a hose made for a Stanza will fit your ZX. That's help you appreciate when your Monday morning ride's depending on your Sunday afternoon project.

Van's Auto Parts
3705 N. I-35, 512/472-6236
12410 N. Lamar, 512/834-0404
10313 Lake Creek, 512/219-6005
2235 S. Lamar, 512/440-8848
10010 Menchaca, 512/282-9333

Smartest Idea For Recycling

Runners go through shoes like children go through pant legs. And Run-Tex runners run, no doubt about it. They'll even train ya for a marathon! But that much running can wear out the bounce in a new pair of sneakers pretty quick. So, Run-Tex offers a 10% discount toward the purchase of new shoes when the old shoes are donated. Run-Tex then donates them to less fortunate members of the city, who are all too happy to accept a warm pair of shoes - even if they don't have that starting-block shine. Way to go, Run-Tex.

RunTex
422 W. Riverside, 512/472-3254
2201 Lake Austin Blvd., 512/477-9464
www.runtex.com

 
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2000 Intro

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