2010 Readers Poll
2010 Critics Picks

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Classic Film Fantasy Fodder

Second Run was initially conceived by two sisters who relocated to Austin from Chicago to show movies in a retro theatre setting. They changed course and opened a vintage consignment boutique instead, an innovative and enticing little spot to shop for classic Broadway and Hollywood style. Filled top to bottom with clothing and memorabilia that might please Poitier, pique Pickford, and make even Garbo giggle, Second Run hasn't strayed too far from the original vision: There's plenty of room for movie parties in the cozy little minitheatre at the back of the store.

Second Run
9012 Research Ste. C-5

Best Decorative Vision

Enjoy classic (but not canonized) modern design, astonishing works by local artists, and zany postmodern joie de vivre? And you haven't plunged in to the many pleasures of IF+D, you say? Then, friend, you have a great big hole in your life that you need to fill with a trip Downtown, pronto. The daughter of an urban shop owner, owner Kristen Bolling opened the store at her young daughter's behest but also aspired to just the kind of throwback neighborhood retail clubhouse the place has become. (The DJ Chicken George sets and discounts you get for singing Prince lyrics on the right occasions don't hurt.) Bolling's ineffable aesthetic encompasses powdered Blu Dot metal as well as some kind of "naked angel babies" the Twitter feed is on about right now. Did we mention the witty, nutty, sardonic website, further evidence that IF+D is the thinkin' fella's home store? Read the nightstand description as ode to the Jam, and you'll see what we're talking about.

208 Colorado

Best Kept Deth Secret

What's that you say? It's too hot to be goth this year? Nonsense! Strappy, buckley fetishwear; steampunk gear; and dark-designed, industrial-grade haute couture never go out of style (and pleather/vinyl catsuits or variations thereon get oh-so-much-sexier the sweatier one becomes). Owners Cassandra Davis and Mary Milton have been outfitting Austin's night creatures and merciful sisters since 2004. If it's black, lacy, bears the imprimatur of the grave, or makes you look like H.G. Wells on a Bauhaus-hair day, they have it, and you need it if you're ever going to get Andrew Eldritch to take you seriously. Damn the heat and let slip the goths of war!

Best Local Luxury Item We Can Dream About

By the time Helm boots get onto the feet of Austin shoppers, they’ve already traveled the world. While the boots are conceived in Austin by Progress Coffeemeister Joshua Bingaman, the boots are handmade in Istanbul with leather from Holland, Italy, Malaysia, and France. Although the boots are on the pricier side, the price tag's justified when you see the painstaking detail — these boots take five days to make. Catch a glance of these pieces of wearable art on ladies and gents such as Nick Cave, Lance Armstrong, Balmorhea, and Spoon.

Helm Boots
1200 E. 11th #101

Todd V. Wolfson

John Anderson

Best Nutty CenTex Natives

As much a Texas staple as grackles, cowboy boots, and Willie Nelson's rolling papers, pecans make the perfect gift and road-trip munchie. North America's only naturally occurring nut, the humble pecan has kept humans and squirrels alike nourished for centuries. Some might even argue the sweet-tooth-sating pecan pie to be as American as, well, apple pie. Berdoll's many varieties of pecans – chocolate-covered, mesquite, jalapeño, honey glazed, to name a few – boast a Central Texas birthright from one of 100,000 trees on the family's 340-acre orchard. Sample their babies on your way out of town with a visit to their glorious retail store on Highway 71 East. Even if you get there after business hours, a large vending machine is on premises to offer you gift options (or a lavish road-trip snack) to take on your journey.

Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company
2626 Hwy. 71 W.
Cedar Creek

Best Place To Find Your Grandma's Cute Clothes

While Austin may still be young as a city of fashion, Prototype is one of the leaders in keeping Austin looking good. Get beautiful via two storefronts on South Congress and Milton, Prototype Vintage Design (all women’s clothing) and Proto-Man. The selection is impeccable, and the "proto-hunnies" at the stores are always happy to assist in picking out the perfect outfit. Keep an eagle eye out for the vintage furniture and home decor pieces scattered around both stores — those gems go quick.

Prototype Vintage Design
1700 1/2 S. Congress

Best Place To Get Cattle Feed, Spurs, Chicken Supplies, and That Ranch-Hand Feeling

A drive to Callahan's is a trip to the rural roots of Austin, where the bulletin board advertises not raves and roommates but bull studs, foals for sale, and roaming ranch hands. The sprawling, quirky general store has feed and seed, hardware, hens, iron skillets, supplies for all manner of beast and bird, and a whole cadre of helpful gals and fellas to help you choose the right fertilizer, cowboy hat, or hinge.

Callahan's General Store
501 Hwy. 183 S.

Best Place To Keep Us in Stitches

Just south of the river, there's a colorful sign pointing you toward a Craftsman bungalow bustling with creativity and inspiration. Last winter, Leslie Bonnell and her crafty cohorts assembled Stitch Lab from informal sewing classes held at homes and studios to a full-fledged center. The often wait-listed classes, geared to both kids and adults, cover topics from millinery for tweens to advanced garment construction and even screenprinting. Further inspiration comes from the bolts and bolts of bright fabrics, including retro prints and wool felts along the walls, as well as the Sublime Stitching embroidery patterns and notions tucked into available nooks. There's no project too big or small for the Stitch Lab teachers to help you make it work.

Stitch Lab
1000 S. First

John Anderson

Best Reason To Start That Kraftwerk Cover Band

In the mood for a Moog? Dreaming of a drum machine? All about analog? The gang at Switched On is making hands-on sense of the synth wave that's hit Austin recently, offering both vintage and new equipment, repairs, recording space, and classes, as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of electronica and all its spawn. If you ask nicely, they'll let you twiddle some knobs.

Switched On
2400 E. Cesar Chavez Ste. 316-B

Best Soul Proprietors

By moving from the Eastside to new North Loop digs this year, the vinyl-only Breakaway Records may have found its niche. Owner Gabe Vaughn, master of ceremonies for many a Second Sunday Sock Hop, knows his soul and R&B, and the 45s and LPs are organized with the care of a real record obsessive. If you've got a few hours to dig, you can come away with something rare or get turned on to something new. There's also a healthy dose of punk, psych, and blues, all at realistic prices.

Breakaway Records
211 W. North Loop

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Veggies by the Tracks

As far as we know, it has nothing to do with the Obama campaign, but the HOPE Farmers Market does encapsulate the social shift that swept him into office. Small-scale but thoughtful in its offerings (local produce, arts, crafts, landscaping plants, vegan Indian food), the market is a community-oriented nonprofit associated with the Helping Other People Everywhere organization, which involves artists in promoting social change. The vibe in the market's shady, breezy courtyard and adjacent Pine Street Station space is nuevo-Eastside: relaxing and a little raggedy, hip but not yet overmonied, and infused with low-key, 21st century creature comforts such as iced coffee, xeriscaping discourse, and musicians from Okkervil River. The veggies we've bought there have been luscious and impeccable, but the real prize at HOPE is the invigorating sense of neighborhood connection, of place, and, yes, of change.

Best Vintage Reproduction Cowboy Boots

There are lots of cool cowboy boots in Austin, but Heritage has a lock on the glorious styles from the past. Loving the lore, craftsmanship, design, and feel of vintage boots, owners Jerry and Patti Ryan have gone back to the roots of the boot to bring us their gorgeous re-creations. In addition to the selection of everyday boots for men and women, Heritage's Rancho Deluxe collection features such designs as the state Capitol, butterflies, eagles, horses, and practically any other motif you can imagine. So if you're looking for something a little different, go to Heritage and pull yourself up by the bootstraps.

Heritage Boot
1200 S. Congress Ave

Todd V. Wolfson

Bret Brookshire

Best-Grown Homegrown

So it's not the Tiffany's of plant sellers, but who needs all that fancy stuff when you just want cheap plants? No glamorous greenhouses and no artfully arranged hanging baskets, this green queen is just a trailer out past Mustang Ridge on the side of the road, surrounded by dozens of (primarily) native plants that flourish here in Central Texas. The daylilies, cast-iron plants, spider lilies, irises, elephant ears, hibiscus, castor beans, canna, roses, and banana trees dazzle the eyes. And we're not talking about seedlings here – we're talking full-grown plants. Some are in pots; others you just point to and they're dug up in front of you. Casual, to the point, and cheap, the Canna Queen is true royalty.

The Canna Queen
901 Hwy. 21 W.
Cedar Creek

Most Distinctive Jewelry Store

While the 2nd Street District is still a bit of a fledgling concept, Beyond Tradition weathers the changes like a pro, having recently added a new men's clothing and accessories collection. But with jewelry collections from Tracy Tenpenny, Catherine Nicole, Cynthia Bloom, and others, Beyond Tradition is truly just that. Kappie Bliss (how's that for a name?) presents treasures and treats of uniquely crafted silver, gold, and semiprecious gemstone jewelry. Among the more unusual stones are drusy, chalcedony, gaspeite, cherry quartz, and all the turquoise you can imagine.

Beyond Tradition
221 W. Second

Todd V. Wolfson

Shelley Hiam

Most Spectral Feet

Whether reliving the glory days of seventh-grade basketball tourneys of yore or enhancing the already overwhelming pheromone spritz of the babe-magnet you are, your choice to do so in Pride Socks speaks volumes. How better to express such fashion-forward thinking than with a warm wink to the past? How better to rock one's inner unicorn than to don hooves in rainbow tubes of stretchy, nostalgic comfort?

Pride Socks

Critics: Services
2010 Intro

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