2002 Readers Poll
2002 Critics Picks
Best Concession to the Scots

We could never imagine a store getting away with the name "Frugalstein's, " no matter how successful they became at moving cheap wares. So those of us of Scottish descent always wondered why the powers that be thought that a name like "MacFrugal's" -- obviously a tip of the tam to those thrifty Scots -- was acceptable. And hey, the new name "Big Lots!" sounds like something that Austin Powers' chunky kilt-wearing nemesis might say, anyway.

Big Lots!
Airport & Lamar

Best Electronic Warehouse

Fry's Electronics
12707 MoPac N.

Best Little Gift Shop in Hyde Park

Whether you love Buddha and/or incense and/or lesbians and/or Stevie Nicks, and/or witchcraft, and/or beautiful silver jewelry, Celebration is your one stop, smell good shop for great gifts from tiny, stone-inlaid boxes to little home fountains, womyn's literature, Beanie Babies, unique instruments, wind chimes, and more. The staff is exceptionally helpful. And men are welcome, too.

3110 Guadalupe

Best New Bookstore


Best New Management Hire

When Dave, the beloved manager of Hyde Park's Fresh Plus disappeared overnight, the neighborhood sighed a big, collective, sad and sorry sigh. But there's reason to rejoice, now. Dave's back in the food game courtesy of The Butts family.

7015 Village Center Dr., 512/502-8445
2400 S. Congress, 512/442-2354
2701 E. Seventh, 512/478-7328
10710 Research #200, 512/794-8221
6900 Brodie, 512/891-8900
11521 FM 620 N., 512/249-0558
2508 E. Riverside, 512/448-3544
201 FM 685 N., Pflugerville, 512/251-0002
500 Canyon Ridge Dr., 512/973-8143
5808 Burnet, 512/453-8864
7112 Ed Bluestein #125, 512/926-1491
9414 N Lamar, 512/835-5400
600 W. William Cannon, 512/447-5544
6001 W. Parmer, 512/249-0400
5800 W. Slaughter, 512/301-9770
1000 E. 41st., 512/459-6513

Best place to buy a gift for the home or yourself

The sign on the front of the building may say Ace Hardware, but this place is more than paint and nails. Buy everything from bath soap to the dish to hold it in. Besides the mundane gardening supplies are unusual toys and presents that you won't beable to resist buying something for yourself.

Best Revival of the Art of Window Dressing

1202 S. Congress

1202 S. Congress

Best Service In Adult Novelties

There radio ads are a scream but their service is not. Choosing the proper adult novelties can be serious business, and Tabu’s staff is helpful, knowledgeable and discreet. In addition, they offer innovative and unusual swimwear for women (“This is not your mall bathing suit…”) as well as (“Feeling left out, gentlemen?”) the most stylish swimwear for men (“bikini, square-cut or thong-back”) and intimate apparel. Definitely not your mall anything.

Tabu Lingerie
4006 S. Lamar, 512/443-7779
9070 Research Blvd., 512/452-8228
1323 South Congress Ave, 512/443-7779

Todd V. Wolfson

Best North-of-the-River Answer to South Congress

There?s a little bunch of stores in this funky shopping area (don?t be put off by the overused "funky" here, for in this case the word is fitting indeed). Check out Forbidden Fruit, Donkey Records, Room Service and Hog Wild Vintage, Ararat Middle Eastern Restaurant, the Parlor pizza joint, Musical Exchange, Monkeywrench Books, Asahi Import Japanese grocery store, and a number of other good shopping choices. An easy stroll from Hyde Park -- hint: when you want to shop on Ozone Action Days -- but be sure if you walk to bring the big backpack, because you will stock up on excellent stuff.

North Loop, between Guadalupe & Avenue F

Best Office Furniture & Supplies

These days, warehouse shopping means large faceless buildings with displays of office furniture set high above your head, and choice limited to one or two types of chair or desk. T.O.P.S., on the other hand, is an old-style warehouse for the budget-minded. They have many kinds of surplus/recycled/pre-owned desks, chairs, file cabinets, and bookshelves stuffed in their Quonset hut warehouse. They offer cubes, conference tables, drafting tables, caution/warning signs, dry erase/chalk boards, and new office supplies, too. The dot-com fallout has left a surplus of goods at affordable prices – at least half that of the major office chains. Stock is always changing. Warning: It's not air-conditioned, so go early in the morning.

Texas Office Products & Supplies
1100 E. Fifth, 512/472-1340
2307 Kramer, 512/833-7777

Nursery Most Worthy of the Name

Austin is blessed with some wonderful places to buy seeds, plants, and gardening supplies, but Barton Springs Nursery remains a top choice for a simple reason: They actually grow a great deal of what they sell. It's an uncommon practice that deserves our continued support and patronage (and our empty pots, so they can cultivate more plants!).

Barton Springs Nursery
3601 Bee Caves Rd.

Best Place to Pick Up a Used Honda or Toyota

Jim Ernst and his crew of earnest car mechanics operate a full service repair and body shop. But in addition to fine service and decent prices, they move cars, specializing in reselling used Hondas and Toyotas. So if your beater has beat it, call the nice guys at the Depot.

Auto Depot
909 Prairie Trail

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Way to Get Framed

Why would you take your precious work of art or family photo heirloom to some barely trained teenager at some chain frame center? Wouldn't you want to work with someone who gives at least half a fig about the border for your treasured wall hanging? Or better yet, wouldn't you like to work with the interior design aesthetics of an Art Institute of Chicago graduate who has over two decades of art experience? After 20 years in Austin and three years in her current location on the Drag, local pastel and watercolor artist Peggy Linehan offers a personal touch to the important art of framing. "I don't frame so that you have to reframe. Framing your art is like buying furniture: It's an investment."

Perimeters Custom Picture Framing
2928 Guadalupe

Best Place to Encounter the Funkiest of Treasures

When traveling south on Guadalupe, follow your nose past Mojo's; the smell of incense will lead you to Pangaea, a wonderland of thingamabobs and knick knacks, including unique shoes, dresses, shirts, skirts, cards, candles, oils, various decorations, exquisite jewelry, and even fairy dust. The dragon door handle is fabulous, and so is this imaginative gift shop.

Shop Most Likely in Which to Find Yourself Exclaiming, 'Holy Toledo!'

Stations of the Cross coloring books, anyone? Perhaps a picture of the Pope, religious medal for your pet, or a wall plaque featuring those weepy-eyed "Precious Moments" moppets? Yep, Emmaus has all manner of religious-themed tchotchkes, jewelry, books, cards, statues, and enough overwhelming sweetness to wear down even the hardiest fans of Catholic kitsch. But, in all seriousness, if you seek a lovely gift for your devout nana or the young man in your life about to take his first Holy Communion, upon entering this treasure of Catholic treasure you will exclaim, "Holy Toledo, I've hit the mother lode!"

Emmaus Catholic Gifts & Books
6001 Burnet Rd.

Best Paint Shop for Girls

Let the boys have their fun at their Home Depots. Let them test drive the power tools and ponder paints. Okay, we girls have a gas doing that sometimes, too. But when we're feeling really girly, we head to Sephora and get to paint, blush, gloss, powder, and spritz to our hearts' content -- and with cosmetics we had only read about in Vogue! Yes, it's a chain. But having been previously relegated to oohing and aahing over the goods on the Web site or having bought one too many tubes of the wrong color red lipstick from a flourescently lit makeup counter, we're happy to join a chain gang.

9722 Great Hills Trail

Best Place to Find Cheap Records

Remember records? Sure you do. Those glorious 12-inch slabs of vinyl that spin at 33, 45, and even 78 revolutions per minute. While Sound Exchange has plenty to offer the savvy music fan – underground zines, local music, hard-to-find punk, jazz, and experimental music, etc. – venture into their backroom and you will find a huge selection of alphabetized 99-cent records. Albeit, they are 99 cents for a reason, but if you're hankering to rock to "More Than a Feeling" or "Dirty White Boy," and don't want to dish out the big bucks for the CD, this is the place to get your fix.

Best General Store

If anything, Callahan’s is testament to how much Austin has grown over the last 24 years. In 1978, they set up a general store right next to their Feed & Milling Company and served nearby ranchers who didn’t want to make the trek all the way into the capital city. Now they find themselves well within our metropolitan area. Inside, Callahan’s provides just about anything one would need to live a simple life at home on the range: fertilizer, feed, botanical hand lotion, plumbing and auto supplies, lampshades, night lights, skillets, live baby ducks and chicks, horseshoes, saddles, and, of course, a full line of Stetson cowboy hats.

Best Place to Find Carrie Bradshaw Shoes

Not all of us can afford to accumulate a closet full of designer shoes on a writer’s salary. Lucky for us, Emeralds keeps our heels -- and account balances -- high with a funky range of options at reasonable prices. Sure, Carrie may not deign to wear Nine West, but let’s not confuse snobbery with style. We can get the seasonal style in a reasonable fashion. Now if only Emeralds would extend their line of reasonably priced Sarah Jessica Parker legs …

Best Place to Buy Orchids

Georgia O’Keefe would have had a field day here. With thousands of Hawaiian orchids imported weekly, It’s a Jungle lives up to its name. The selection runs the gamut with these popular flowers, from the common, inexpensive Phalanopsis Dendrobiums to the rarer, pricier Vandas. And for those who don’t know the first thing about orchids and their blooming popularity, It’s a Jungle even offers instructional classes to keep you hip to the buds.

It's a Jungle
907 Kramer

Best Brotherly Endeavor

Austin is all about family legacies, from Champ and Warren Hood to Dubya and his daughters; so too are Ryan and Jason Enright methodically establishing theirs. Fast becoming the Waterloo Records of Hyde Park's musical jet set, their Jupiter Records new/used record store owes no small amount of its growing success to its sibling owners' musical geekdom and their familial retail manners with a burgeoning clientele. Open since 1998 (the South location closed last year), Jupiter's late-twentysomething owners live and breathe everyone from Bob Dylan (Ryan) to Kevin McKinney (Jason) and everything in between. In other words, sweet music and sweet guys.

Best Place for Reasonably Priced, Sanitized Sofas

If you're past feeling comfortable on just any old sofa scoured from Bulky Item Pick-Up Day, but not yet to the point of being able to stomach the expensive commitment that is new furniture, then head over to Salvation Army. We know what you're thinking: "Sally Ann's? Why they're easily twice the price of most thrift shops for furniture!" Well, there's a reason for that. Salvation Army sanitizes its sofas and sleepers so well that they earn certification tags and pass health department inspections. While sanitizing doesn't get rid of every last skin cell or dust mite, it does go a long way toward making that dog-eared, dog-smelling davenport worthy of your living room. And sofas, couches, loveseats, and sleepers in the $99-199 range are still a bargain in this town.

Salvation Army
5329 N. I-35, 512/447-4044
1001 Cumberland, 512/442-3212
1142 S. Lamar, 512/443-7565
6510 S. Congress

Todd V. Wolfson

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Stop for Japanese Go Fun Snacks!

In case you are uninitiated in the world of Japanese fun snacks, our friends in Nippon are geniuses with the junk food (to the point that some of it -- key word "some" -- is actually good for you). Asahi has lots of Pocky -- pretzely sticks dipped in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. And they have the green pea version of Funyuns. Dried squid? Check. Delicious crisp teriyaki squares? Check. Plus lots of regular Japanese staples (miso, udon noodles, soup base). Plus an array of rice cookers that will spin your noggin, and a cool selection of gifts from origami paper to sake sets and lovely hashi (chopsticks).

Asahi Imports
6105 Burnet Rd.

Best Spare Computer Parts

The next time you're in the market for a computer or computer part, don't let a high school salesclerk at the local MegaBuyMart sell you a computer with bells and whistles you don't need. Save your money and sanity and check out the used components at Logic Approach. CPUs, monitors, keyboards, and other accessories are in abundance, and you won't be bamboozled. After all, there is little in the world a bigger screen can't fix.

Logic Approach
2500 S. Lamar

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Unique Hat Selection

In serious need of some hip head wear? Go south on the Drag, and just before it devolves into a pool of fast food joints, look for Vertigo, a cubbyhole of a shop -- recently relocated from its original Sixth Street digs -- that has hats for just about any occasion. There are ski caps, bowlers, fedoras, pork pies, and a whole wall devoted to cowboy hats that the employees steam and shape to your liking. They are also the only store in town that carry the indestructible, stylish but pricey Shady Brady, the first hat we?ve ever seen that comes with a one-year warranty.

Most Delightful Sight

When it's blisteringly hot outside, and traffic is a miserable nightmare … out of nowhere, like a vision from Oz, a bubble appears, bobbing and floating across South Lamar. And then another appears, and another, and more and more as you near the source: the vintage store Flashback. Offering fun and fashion through their vintage clothes and accessories, they also offer bubble machines … one of which is always "carbonating" the breeze.

Flashback Vintage
1805 S. First

Best Place to Spend Money on Art

Every couple of months Ethan Azarian displays his work and that of an artist friend at his In House Gallery. Literally at his home, Ethan transforms his home into a veritable visual labyrinth, lining every available wall, nook, and cranny with paintings. "Herds of Chairs" hangs next to "Nests of Sharks," which hangs next to "Chairs and Sharks." Painted in colorful hues, these whimsical creations are so endearing, not to mention reasonably priced.

In House Gallery
2514 E. 17th

Best Clothes/DJ Combo

With fancy threads and a cool cat sitting atop the little store tucked in off South First & Mary, Gomi brings fashions from the upper Eastside (NYC) down Southside (ATX). The men's clothing is remarkably handsome and affordable, and the ladies-wear is sexy and sleek. All this fashion, with so little pretense!

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Flood Survivor/Best Local Celtic Music

Last November, with Christmas four weeks away, life looked grim for Lanora Davis' beloved shop when over three feet of floodwater washed away about 70% of her stock. It wasn't exactly the cavalry, but members of the Gaelic League and Austin Celtic Association pitched in with the staff and the cleanup, and the store was open 10 days later. A miracle? Nah, just a lot of love for the little shop with everything from Belleek china to kilts for rent. Especially notable is her locals-only collection of Celtic music CDs, a wonderful show of support for Texas' players.

Things Celtic
1806 W. 35th

Critics: Services
2002 Intro

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