2012 Readers Poll
2012 Critics Picks
Best Art Supplies for the Face

In a town filled with magnificent beards, the humble mustache sometimes gets short shrift. Woodsman Mustache Wax and Beard Oil celebrate the full follicle potential. Woodsman has enough oomph to sculpt the most fanciful of curls, to soften the driest beard, but without using oils better left on the canvas. All-natural conditioners make sure your better half won't bristle. And since that masterpiece is right under the nose, it throws in a trio of scents fit for a lumberjack.

Woodsman Moustache Wax

Best Chakra Healer

No pretentious hippie vibe here. Crystal Works staff (some of whom have been on board for over a decade) are happy to consult on just the right rock for the ailment. From a broken heart or time of transition to a yeast infection (yes, there's a rock for that), they will guide you in your geological quest - and if they can't, they're happy to research for you. They have beautiful geodes and jewelry, and simply walking in to this rock shop soothes the soul.

Crystal Works
908-A W. 12th

Sandy Carson

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Farm-Fresh Bohemian Convenient Store

Leave it to East Austin to come up with a new twist on the bland old corner store. This tiny tienda offers drink cooler staples, killer espresso, aguas frescas, farmers' market goodies, and the community ambience of a small-town grocer. Local artwork hangs on the walls, and local artists loiter around tables out front. Waiting for the bus at MLK and Chicon just got a whole lot fresher.

Wet Whistle
1900-A E. Martin Luther King Jr

Best Fashion Collective

Like a little bit of heaven, this modest little house on the Eastside holds fabulous treasures. Maison d'Etoile houses three separate businesses that function as a total beauty outpost. Shari Gerstenberger's Charm School Vintage offers a beautifully merchandised selection of sparkle, glitz, glam, and ethnic looks. Coco Coquette (aka Allyson Garro) has phenomenal, gravity-defying wigs, makeup, lashes, fragrance, and everything your chichi heart desires. Salon d'Etoile is the hair salon home to curly-coif maven Charlotte Belle and the wonderful Johanna Esper, who has created a number of iconic looks in Austin. Small, unpretentious, and totally dreamy, Maison d'Etoile knows its glam. Plus, it has the best welcome sign ever: "Come in, darling."

Maison d'Etoile
2109 E. Cesar Chavez

Best Friends During a Pity Party

… only because "Best Enablers of the Self-Loathing" was already taken. The energetic and genial crew of this one-stop mobile convenience store, will, for a very reasonable upcharge, dispatch a pleasant delivery driver in a sweet li'l Smart car and bring the pity party right to your door. So you completely screwed up with your lady friend, and she says y'all are kaputski because of something really stupid you said. Nothing a pint of Blue Bell's Mint Chocolate Chip, a couple of corn dogs, a frozen chimichanga, some powdered donuts, a bag of Skittles, a pack of Phillies Blunt Grape, and a bottle of red can't handle. OK, gross. Yes, but now, oh so convenient.

Couch Potato Austin

Best Hoochie Mama Shop

This store is a warehouse-sized treasure trove of imported gaud. On one side, you can pick up your wigs and weave on the cheap, your bobby pins in bulk, and your sparkle lip gloss in every color. On the other side, be prepared to have your mind blown by the weirdest fashion on earth. We’re talking high-waisted animal-print sailor shorts here. You'll ask yourself, as we did, "How do they come up with this stuff?” and “Why do I look so fabulous in it?"

Fashion Outlet
7112 Ed Bluestein #110

John Anderson

Best Luxury on the Bolt and on the Cheap

This tie speaks to Austin's (relatively new) embarrassment of fabric riches. Specializing in knits, partners Benson Roberts and Markhollan Swientek make the trek to the Los Angeles fabric market every few weeks to keep their TexStyles Designer Showroom stocked with some of the most wonderful fabrics to hit Austin. An ever-expanding selection of woven fabrics, including to-die-for Italian silks and wools, make TexStyles a designers' destination. And the prices? Awesomely low. Special orders? Superfast. Across town, April Kling Meyer presents Fabricker. No Holly Hobby shop, this small store is for the big-hitters, the heavyweights, and other totally random sports metaphors. But are they really random when Fabricker has been chosen as the official fabric supplier for the Formula One Austin's "COTA Girls'" uniforms (hemmed and dressed by localebrity reality design star Ross Bennett)? Flags in the air; scissors at the ready!

2605-D Jones Rd

4631 Airport #119

Best Mojo Working

The gurus behind the counter of this center of high-strung enlightenment are content to let you wander the walls and pick up any guitar for a strum – from a 1950 Gibson ES-125 that's triple your rent to a Fender Squier Partscaster that fits your hand (and budget) beautifully. AVG has a constantly changing, high-quality selection of hundreds of totally unique, mojo-soaked, used and vintage guitars, basses, mandolins, and banjos that inspire the sort of hushed-tone "wow!"s usually reserved for museums. Safe to say, this place is a time-waster. The back room is brimming with used amps, an island of classic cabinets, and, as with the guitars, you're free to grab a cable and plug into anything and everything. The rows of vintage Les Pauls alone would earn this place museum status, but that's just one row. This open-floor location on North Burnet is temporary as they ready their permanent South Austin home.

Austin Vintage Guitars
4306 Red River

Sandy Carson

Best Place To Buy a Kurta or a Sari

Five years ago, Lata Karna moved from New York City to Austin – because of our indie spirit – to open Marigold and offer a wide variety of goods from India. Her store carries clothing such as men's kurtas and women's saris (even vintage silk saris), accessories, gifts, and home furnishings. The store also hosts Indian musical and cultural events. A true South Austin treasure!

Marigold Gateway to India
2200-A S. Lamar

Best Places To Buy Artwork

With near 200 galleries and artist spaces, you think we're going to pick just one to single out as the best place to buy artwork? Ha! You’re sorely mistaken, and really missing the point, friend. The beauty of EAST (and its sister-tour WEST, which happens in the spring) is enumerated in the plural, not the singular. Each studio, gallery, artist commune, or home provides ample opportunity to discuss art, politics, price, method, and meaning one-on-one with the artists. Not everyone knows it, but art isn't just about the objects produced by people called artists, it's also about interface, exchange, and relationships. Buying an artwork from an independent artist that challenges you to keep looking will immediately and irrevocably change your notions of space and self. That $300 photograph? It's worth it, if you want it. It'll be with you for a long time to come.

Big Medium
916 Springdale Rd., Bldg. 2 #101

Best Punk Re-Animators

Punk's not dead; it's just passed out drunk on the floor of Trailer Space. This Eastside gem of a strange little community space hosts local and touring bands up to four nights a week - sometimes raucous, always fun. Come for the eclectic mix of records, tapes, zines, books, and VHS tapes; but come back and stay for the shows, the poker games, and the pizza next door.

Best Reason To Be Manly

This ultra-stylish boutique on the chic SoCo strip fills a missing niche in the neighborhood - menswear. A haven of relaxed manliness is what Stag is all about, combining old and new, the classic and the cool, the soft with the sharp. Owners Ted Allen, Bobby Johns, Joel Mozersky, Steve Schuck, and Don Weir all have design, retail, and clothing backgrounds and have assembled a quirky but appealing line of apparel, shoes, accessories, furniture, books, luggage, and personal care, with brands like Imogene + Willie denim, Jack Black shaving products, Hamilton shirts, Helm boots, and then some.

1423 S. Congress

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Shop That Rocks on Dirty Sixth

We fondly remember our first visit to Aaron's Rock & Roll, when we bonded with a store clerk over the purchase of a Venom T-shirt. Since that day, Aaron's has been our stop for tops running the gamut of rock from the Beatles to Slayer as well as music-themed patches, buttons, stickers, posters, and even flip-flops and baby onesies. The charmingly chaotic clutter is also home to a formidable collection of novelties and gifts to please all your rocker friends. Looking for a bobblehead figurine of Wendy Williams, Jello Biafra, or Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie? What about adorably morbid fashion accessories and jewelry? Or an inflatable cat in a can? No sweat, it's all here. An added bonus: The store's location is perfect for killing time before or after a show on Dirty Sixth. We would recommend you stop in before. If you wait until after you're inebriated, you might end up passing on the cool Ts in favor of the Handerpants.

Aaron's Rock & Roll
423 E. Sixth

Best Thrift Shopping at a Chain Store

A friendly and knowledgeable staff, plus clean and tidy premises, make thrift shopping here a real joy. The prices are already very reasonable, but with great daily and monthly specials, they get even better. Sign up for their VIP email list for advance notice. This family-owned business has outlets in four states and presents a mix of new, contemporary, and vintage clothing. We particularly like that they have separate racks for "better" clothes. Try it for yourself, and you'll know why.

Thrift Town
5726 Menchaca #240

Best Urban Relic Rummage

The sign for Howard Nursery still stands high over Koenig Lane and Avenue F, ever since the 90-year old, family-owned nursery began occupying that particular corner in 1961. When scion Hank Howard (the Jonathan Winters of horticulture) died, the place languished. In came Backyard Salvage and Garden in 2010 to upcycle the entire property with an organic nursery, architectural salvage, and stone yard. Browse benches and sculpture under the big tree out back and marvel at the number of doors and mantlepieces inside the old airplane hangar, which itself is a historic landmark. Bring a truck.

Backyard Salvage and Garden
111 E. Koenig

Best Use of Old Bicycle Tubes

For artist Ruth Waddy, every medium is a fair game, like the old bicycle tubes she uses to create durable and fun masterpieces like corsets, dresses, hair clips, and earrings. She carefully cuts and sews intricate patterns out of these tattered, recycled tubes that look like a cross between a spider's intentional webbing and those Tex-biquitous celebratory Mexican picados and banderitas. This is to say nothing of her gift for designing feminist performance-art apparel. Imagine: A figure stands in an art museum while yards worth of recycled brown fabric braids are slowly added over the course of two days. Or: a dress made entirely of fresh red cabbage. As a child, Ruth desired to be both a fashion designer and a sanitation worker, and we think she's found a happy synthesis. Look for her at First Thursdays and Austin Fashion Week.

Ruth Waddy

Best Way to Crib Stevie Nicks’ Style

Mirror in the sky, what is love? How about Austin’s best vintage dealers squeezed into one space? American Icon’s frequent 29th St. Yard Sales at the Spider House cover every available space with enough feathers, furs, and fringe for a whirling dervish. Witches-in-training can try on pointy boots while the less adventurous can flip through an encyclopedic concert T-shirt collection. Either way, you’ll leave with rock & roll swagger. And when you see your reflection in the snow covered hills, even a landslide won’t bring you down. Look for American Icon popping up on the Eastside during the first weekend of EAST when they set up shop at the Volstead/Hotel Vegas.

American Icon/Austin
2882 Barton Skyway

Best Way To Get Clean

SoAP represents the Austin persona perfectly: natural, organic, locally made products for conscientious city dwellers. Among their liquid and bar soap selection, they also offer deliciously scented laundry detergents, body sprays, lotions, and dog shampoos – many offered in giant bulk refill sizes. Dye-free and petroleum-free, the lavender, peppermint, Nag Champa and lemongrass fragrances will get that stank squeeky clean. And it's all from right here in South Austin. If you can smell this, thank a hippie!

South Austin People

Critics: Services
2012 Intro

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