2013 Readers Poll
2013 Critics Picks

John Leach

Best Bargain Bling

Here’s our shopping list: pink rhinestone earrings (for cousin Claire), a peacock bracelet (for Brian, the Katy Perry fan), a fake Coach purse (for Andrea in IT), a bright blue big-face watch (for Tamicka), a creepy skull bracelet (for Jenn, because she is possessed), three sprays of hair extensions (also for Brian), a couple of wordy brooches (for us, duh!), and a cross necklace (for Grandma, God bless). What’s yours?

Sam Moon
10515 N. Mopac

Best Crafty Cove

Picture this: an adorable bungalow on South First that houses a smorgasbord of vibrant fabric, quality threads and yarn, and a fantastic staff of genius seamsters to teach you how to make anything from felt tote bags to gorgeous summer dresses. The community vibe runs deep in this sanctuary, so feel free to share all your madcap ideas for pot holders and pillowcases with craft fanatics that fill the store. Put back those curtains on their rods, all you Scarlet O’Haras, Sister Marias, and Project Runway hopefuls. The Stitch Lab’s got you covered.

Stitch Lab
1000 S. First

Devaki Knowles

John Leach

Best Free Hot Pink Fiat Abarth

Lisa Copeland, the general manager of Austin's Fiat studio (that's Fiat for "dealership"), led her sales team in selling more than 100 Fiat 500s in a single month. For this accomplishment, Copeland was promised via Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne a hot pink Fiat Abarth. And we hear a rumor that it's outfitted with shag carpet and Swarovski crystals, so there's no question who's the HBIC! We must be on Lisa's same wavelength because if a genie could grant us three wishes, you'd bet one of those suckers would be spent wishing for the exact same car. World peace and a puppy-dolphin crossbreed would, of course, be wishes number 2 and 3.

Fiat of Austin
11011 Domain Dr. #124

Best Helping Hand on a Foot

Here's the mission of Mitscoots: Do more with your socks. That's right, put your socks to work – employing others and changing lives. While volunteering with the homeless, Tim Scott and his wife heard over and over, just behind requests for food and water, this question: Do you have a pair of socks? And that was it. The pair started their own sock company dedicated not only to creating high-quality, made-in-America socks, but also to giving those socks to those who need them and to hiring those in Austin who are down on their luck to help with packaging. And so Mitscoots was born, a company that takes seriously the challenge it offers on the packaging for each pair: "When you see a problem, do something about it." We couldn't agree more.


Shelley Hiam

Best New Playful Second Street Addition

After more than a dozen years on the corner of 29th & Guadalupe, the tiny, twisted Toy Joy has sprouted wingz and landed their Hello Kitty gear and pregnant-lady keychains in the upscale Second Street district. And not a moment too soon, bringing some levity to all those "Downtown has no soul/what is happening to our city?" conversations that seem oh so reductive. With Toy Joy's move into the bustling bear heart of Austin, we hope other Austin staples are taking note. We work within machinations that are bigger than any one of us, and Toy Joy has the spunk and attitude to make and remake Austin into the place we adore wherever they are. That, and we can never go very long without buying a bag of unicorn farts.

Toy Joy
403 W. Second

Best NKOTNB (New Kid on the Naughty Block)

In the grand tradition of human-centric, feminist sex-toy shops, Q Toys emerges on Austin's scene triumphant. Quality vibes and toys are laid out smartly on clean shelves for you to test. Q Toys' ingenious lube bar is the place to compare the relative merits of each: too sticky, too slick ... just right! With in-store workshops (which are mind-bogglingly F-R-E-E) and the know-how of owner Stephanie Boggs, you'll walk away with a lifelong friend, because almost all the products, like our Jimmyjane Little Chroma, are built to last. BzzzzZZzzZzZzzzz. That's right.

Q Toys
6800 Burnet Rd.

Devaki Knowles

Best Plant Nursery

When you hear of East Austin Succulents, you may think hipster hydroponics, but no. Retrain your brain and expect a huge selection (from aloe to zebra plant) and services such as landscaping and custom arrangements. Take that sad, empty planter in and owners Eric and Julie, sultans of succulents, and staff will gladly help you fill it on the spot. Don't be overwhelmed, there's the occasional puppy to pet to soothe your nerves.

East Austin Succulents
801 Tillery

Best Quick Stop for Everything From Beer to Bug Candy

Adored by neighborhood kids, twentysomethings on bikes, and anyone else who steps foot into this local legend, the Flag Store (née Hyde Park Market, Deli & Organic Grocery) has something for everyone – all in a convenient, corner-store fashion. The beer section alone rivals some of the biggest booze stops in town, attended by the friendliest staff around. Plus, this globally-aware Hyde Park hot spot features craft versions of all the soda pop, chocolate bars, gourmet frozen pizza, Amy’s, Annie’s, kombucha (on tap and in bottles), and ice cream sammies the heart desires. And, just in case, there are strange giant wrenches, sour cream and onion crickets, gasoline, plenty of cereal, and, yes, flags – now and forever.

The Flag Store
4429 Duval St.

Best Shop-Local Portals

An ambitious, community-minded entrepreneur needs more than a business plan and some start-up scratch to become a vital part of Austin's crowded local business scene. Both of these organizations offer clubs, activities, and communications for their members to grow better-connected and to keep abreast of best practices. The Austin Independent Business Alliance, of "Keep Austin Weird" fame, recently reached an agreement with the city of Austin to continue funding its successful Independent Business Investment Zone (IBIZ) program, while the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (AGLCC) was honored with the coveted distinction of the Rising Star Chamber Award this past August at the 10th annual National Business & Leadership Conference in Dallas, presented by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Way to give 'em the business, AIBA and AGLCC!

Austin Independent Business Alliance
PO Box 49545

Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 49216

Best Snap Shirts

OK, dude, it's time to spiff up. For the better part of the year, your darling girlfriend has tolerated your date night attire (those ratty, ironic dad jeans and that threadbare Han/guitar Solo T that's so faded there's no black left, save for the permanent pit stains). Square those shoulders with the handsome stitched yolk of a just-cool-enough-for-old-school and oh-so-Texan snap shirt. Frock On boasts a selection that goes deep, from shiny, polyester gold-thread numbers imbued with paint buckets of Seventies Travolta swag to basic gingham checks in blue or red that'd send late Sixties Dolly Parton to your personal hayloft for a roll. Plus, on Tuesdays, all snaps are 25% off. You just need a few staples to create a more fashionable wardrobe, and the snap shirt is to guys what the little black dress is to the ladies. Annnnnd you have no idea what we are talking about, do you, fella?

Frock On Vintage
3016 Guadalupe, Ste. A101

Devaki Knowles

Best South Austin Independent Liquor Store

Often overlooked by the glam of next-door sister Whip In, this family-owned godsend to the neighborhood has the absolute best selection of boozy goodness in South Austin, if not the city. Hard-to-find boutique spirits and liqueurs make it a mixologist's wet dream, and oenophiles can rejoice in the carefully chosen wines, including Austin’s best selection of Grower Champagnes. The knowledgeable, friendly staff hosts fun and informative tastings every week, with 10% off on featured products. They will gladly help you find what you need without a hint of snobbery, whether it’s that rare, expensive scotch or a value wine for your Wednesday night supper.

Beverage World
1948 S. I-35

Best Value Thrift Store

Looking for a red dress? Brown slacks? A sequin teal onesie for your night out on East Sixth? Family Thrift is color coded for your searches and has the best overall prices in town. Music is always upbeat, often a blend of Tejano and Frank Sinatra, setting the pace for a frenzied search for the funky. As an added bonus, join their Rewards program and receive up to 50% off every Sunday.

Family Thrift Store
208 E. Oltorf

Best Way to Find the Perfect Fit

Selenia Rios and Erik Untersee, the founders of the Eastside custom denim boutique Traveller Denim Co., have a modest goal: to build themselves a lifestyle brand empire and to transform their corner of Austin into a haven for Austin designers. With their backgrounds in the film industry, in renovating kitchens, and in creating – from a small narrow space on Chestnut Avenue – a rich-feeling showroom for their wares (including the vintage sewing machines on which they do all of their work), we've no doubt they're well on their way to domination. The pair are passionate about style and substance – both obvious in their attention to detail (consider the quality of denim they choose to create their custom pants), and their friendly and outgoing style (they'd love to have you stop by just for a chat) – which together have created a boutique that fits perfectly with the eclectic mix of new and old that thrives in 78702.

Traveller Denim Co.
1403 Chestnut

Best Way to Recover

Is it possible to feel comfortable, confident, and pretty while recovering from breast cancer surgery? Ask Allison Schickel and you'll get a resounding yes – and easily, with the Brobe. It's a simple thing, really: a comfortable, front-closing bra attached inside a soft and comfortable robe. The cotton bra has pockets for ice packs, prosthetics, and drain tubes, to further ease the pains of recovery. It's ingenious, really, and so it's little wonder the Brobe has earned emotional testimonials, received glowing press, and even received the 2012 Dallas Market Center's national Next Big Thing Award.

The Brobe

Critics: Services
2013 Intro

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle