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Best Antiques/Collectibles
Uncommon Objects

Uncommon Objects is a real-life I Spy book, chock-full of faded old photos of lives long past, dusty books of questionable origins, estate gems once gifted as tokens of love everlasting, and the random “didn’t know I wanted it 'til I saw it.” Cramped yet cozy, this Congress Avenue treasure trove has the goods to make you say, "Hey, look at this!" at least once, even if you’re there by yourself. Sure, people might stare, but don’t worry about it – they probably found something amazing, too.

Uncommon Objects, 1512 S. Congress, 512/442-4000,

Best Bookstore

From their critically acclaimed author/speaker readings to their in-store book clubs, BookPeople lives up to their motto: "A community bound by books." This is a haven for people to come and share their adoration for the written word. And in this space, surrounded by books and book lovers, for a little while nothing else in the world matters.

BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar, 512/472-5050,

Best Clothing/Accessories
Buffalo Exchange

If you've got that whole Champagne taste/Lone Star budget thing going on, this hotbed of hot shit is the answer to your prayers. Buffalo is brimming with affordable and awesome recycled fashion. You can find a little vintage, lots of neon, some sensible stuff to wear to work, off the chizzain scores from last season, and loads and loads of party pants.

Buffalo Exchange, 2904 Guadalupe, 512/480-9925,

Best Comic Book Store
Austin Books & Comics

Batman fans, manga maniacs, Miyazaki lovers, Godzilla geeks, and every other Golden or Silver Age graphic novel devotee will find a home in this "BOA" Hall of Famer and multiple Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retail finalist. Since 1977, this Central Texas mecca for comics has been a haven for DC-vs-Marvel arguments, a pot o’ gold for vintage comics, and a hot spot for superheroes. Trail your favorite artists or discover a new universe: ABC boasts knowledgeable staff and a legion of avowed ABC shoppers in addition to featured events like Steampunk Day and Free Comic Book Day. Did we mention ABC keeps tame an enormous in-store Hulk?

Austin Books & Comics, 5002 N. Lamar, 512/454-4197,

Best Computer Store
TIE: Apple Store; Discount Electronics

If you're having a "Tigers and Snow Leopards and Mountain Lions, oh my!" kind of day, then there's an Apple store a few miles away to keep the techno-cats at bay. If you're in need of a PC genius, our readers know you can count on the brilliant and economical beasts at Discount Electronics. Both can guide you to the new or used computer rig, plus all the bells, whistles, and accessories that will make you purr. Rrawrrrr.

Apple, The Domain, 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, 512/691-4800,

Discount Electronics, 1011 W. Anderson, 512/983-9989,

Discount Electronics, 9711 Manchaca Rd., 512/458-8612,

Discount Electronics, 1001 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/637-7051,

Best DVD Rental/Purchase
Vulcan Video

Yes, Vulcan is versed in DVD, stocking the latest and greatest. But many of the cinematic world's treasures can still only be found on VHS. A recent queer/punk rental, which included both DVDs and VHS: Mondo Trasho (D: John Waters, 1969), Thundercrack! (D: Curt McDowell, 1975), No Skin Off My Ass (D: Bruce LaBruce, 1991), Nitrate Kisses (D: Barbara Hammer, 1992), The Watermelon Woman (D: Cheryl Dunye, 1996), Mala Noche (D: Gus Van Sant, 1986), Totally Fucked Up (D: Gregg Araki, 1993), and Urinal (D: John Greyson, 1989). What's your list?

Vulcan Video, 100-A North Loop, 512/478-5325,

Vulcan Video, 4411 Russell, 512/326-2629,

Best Farmers Market
HOPE Farmers Market

Easy like Sunday morning at HOPE Farmers Market means strolling around Plaza Saltillo perusing a variety of local vendors specializing in colorful, flavorful uniqueness. Artisans, artists, farmers, and programs designed to improve and inspire community and education are all wrapped up in a bear hug and set to live, local music. Only in this East Austin weekly treasure can you find beautifully handcrafted and cause-driven Kuna Kicks right alongside fresh Windy Hill Farm goat meat and Johnson’s Backyard Garden veggies. Brunch and conscious shopping make for a lovely day of rest.

Hope, 412 Comal St,, 512/553-1832,

Best Furnishings/Home
Uptown Modern

We'll admit it. On more than one occasion, we thought about hiding in Uptown Modern's restrooms so we could live there after hours. We would eat popcorn on a beautifully refurbished Danish modern sofa, store our clothes in a Paul McCobb chest, and arrange lavish buffets on a rosewood credenza. Sure, we might get arrested, but at least the crime scene would be tastefully appointed.

Uptown Modern, 5111 Burnet Rd., 512/452-1200,

Best Gardening Store
The Natural Gardener

You can't honestly call the Natural Gardener a simple gardening store. They do sell plenty of soil, compost, and organic plants from their nursery, but with their gardening and sustainable living classes, on-site butterfly garden, and open invitation to post up on the lawn for a picnic, Natural Gardener distinguishes itself as more than a shop. What John and Jane Dromgoole have created is a growing, blooming, year-round celebration, dedicated to Austin's adoration of our natural world.

Natural Gardener, 8648 Old Bee Caves Rd., 512/288-6113,

Best Grocery Store

When artist Albert Bui titled H-E-Bs on his "Judgmental Austin Map" ("scary H-E-B," "scarier H-E-B," and "gimp H-E-B"), he may not have been prepared for the barrage of people who either defended or became embattled over the meme-moniker of their neighborhood H-E-B. But Bui certainly got one thing right, our neighborhoods aren't only defined by the schools and parks nearby, but also by the nearest H-E-B. For our part, we live near "the birds H-E-B."

HEB, 7112 Ed Bluestein #125, 512/926-1491,

HEB, 7015 Village Center Dr., 512/502-8445,

HEB, 2400 S. Congress, 512/442-2354,

13 more locations

Best Hardware Store
Breed & Co.

One of the many great things about Breed & Co. is even before you hit the aisles a'searchin' for that widget-wadget that will magically fix your toilet, there's someone preempting your frantic search, greeting you and asking if you need help. And trust us, you need help. We know we need help. The experience here is so smooth we usually get a bon-bon or two (or three) before we exit, widget-wadget in hand, strolling toward our car with the knowledge that we're about to get shit done.

Breed & Co., 718 W. 29th, 512/474-6679,

Breed & Co., 3663 Bee Caves Rd., 512/328-3960,

Best Music Gear
Guitar Center

So you wanna be a rock & roll star? Quit singing into your toothbrush or playing air guitar in the mirror, and journey to the center of Austin's gearhead universe. Project the galaxies with their extensive lighting, call out to the stars to see if there is life on Mars with the vast selection of amps and mics, or just traverse the Earth like a troubadour with their many six-stringed wonders. In space no one can hear you scream, but here on Earth, Guitar Center is making sure you get heard at the speed of sound.

Guitar Center, 2525 W. Anderson #200, 512/419-1717,

Guitar Center, 5300 MoPac S. #103, 512/891-0297,

Best Naughty Business
Forbidden Fruit

Keeping Austin kinky and twinky for more than 30 years, Forbidden Fruit specializes in all kinds of erotic gear. BDSM? LGBTQIA? Forbidden Fruit remains steadfastly, wholly inclusive with an emphasis on education and self-expression. A delight to your saucy bits, their vast selection of toys and lingerie will keep you coming back for more, more, more.

Forbidden Fruit, 108 E. North Loop, 512/453-8090,

Best Neighborhood Grocery/Convenience
Wheatsville Co-op

The only retail food cooperative in Texas, Wheatsville Co-op is where sustainability meets substance. This city is in love with this multiple "Best of Austin" winner/bohemian foodophile haven. With an emphasis on local and organic, it's no wonder the co-op has over 12,000 owners. Don't worry though; you don't have to be an owner to enjoy this unique and charming grocery. This community driven co-op is open to all – and soon, super-convenient for our pals south of the river.

Wheatsville Food Co-op, 3101 Guadalupe, 512/478-2667,

Wheatsville Food Co-op, 4001 S. Lamar, 512/814-2888

Best New Local Business
Medusa Skates

With only a year in business, Medusa Skates has solidified its place as the go-to gear hub for everything Roller Derby. Rollergirl owned and operated, this badass skate shop houses derby skates, pads, gear, wheels, plates, helmets, apparel, and just about anything else one could possibly need to dominate the track. Flat-track or banked-track skates? Ain’t a problem; they’ve got both. And there’s a shop cat, Dexter. Get your skates on, ladies. Medusa’s the bee’s knees. Speaking of which, need some kneepads? Fanboys and future brats need apply.

Medusa Skates, 3515 Hyridge, 512/203-7203,

Best Pet Store
Bark 'n Purr Pet Center

"Woof!" (Can you believe Bark 'n Purr Pet Center has won 'Best Pet Store' in Austin 13 times? I can! It has all my favorite foods and toys, plus I get to go inside the store and make new friends! Wow, I love Bark 'n Purr so much!) "Hiss!" (Hiss!)

Bark n Purr Pet Center, 4604 Burnet Rd., 512/452-3883,

Best Record/CD Store
Waterloo Records

This independent music and video store has become an Austin staple, with its eclectic mix of new and used, rare, cult DVDs, and popular vinyl to suit its equally eclectic clientele, who've been popping in-and-out since 1982. If these walls could talk they'd probably tell you its regular in-store performances have included shoegazers My Bloody Valentine and Yo La Tengo, Texans Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, and St. Vincent, as well as former Waterloo Records employee Alejandro Escovedo of the Nuns and True Believers fame, among many others. So it's no wonder why Waterloo Records, named after the city's former moniker, has been on the Chronicle's "Best of Austin" list for decades and frequently included in similar lists across the nation.

Waterloo Records, 600-A N. Lamar, 512/474-2500,

Best Shoe Selection

Let's not mince words: You'll either need to "forget" your "good" credit card in the car, or bring a friend who is good at restraining you before you feast your eyes (and feet) on Nordstrom's shoe selection. By all means buy, but when the mortgage is at risk because, GOOD GOD, there are so many pretty pretties in that devil's den of bipedal luxury, you may need some financial-planning strategies. You've been warned.

Nordstrom, 2901 Capital of TX Hwy. S., 512/691-3500,

Nordstrom, 9607 Research, 512/651-6180,

Nordstrom, 5601 Brodie, Sunset Valley, 512/697-2600,

Best Small Record/CD Store
End of an Ear

Okay, vinyl heads, cool your jets. This beloved South Austin wax museum won't be leaving its post anytime soon. These guys are at the top of their game, providing music lovers with an insane range of contemporary indie releases as well as a well-stocked back catalog of everything from prog rock, dancehall, early Nineties rap, and British punk. With an approachable and adorkable staff and mind-blowing in-store events, this music destination can't be beat.

End of an Ear, 4304 Clawson, 512/462-6008,

Best Thrift Store

Our readers know what's what. Never turn your nose up at Goodwill because it truly is amazing. With set prices for each type of clothing, all brands are created equal! Also, besides the huge selection of cheap clothing, you can walk out with a new desk, some golf clubs, a DVD player, and a painting all at once. Goodwill is a treasure chest of odds and ends and never disappoints. Did we mention it's amazing?

Goodwill, 9801 Brodie, 512/280-8037,

Goodwill, Main office: 1015 Norwood Park Blvd., 512/637-7100,

Goodwill, 2800 S. Lamar, 512/442-8802,

15 more locations

Best Video Game Rental/Purchase
Game Over Videogames

Pick your poison. As every childhood is unique, so is everyone’s retro gaming addiction. Mom wouldn’t buy a Sega in the Nineties? Game Over Videogames can help with that. Their deep, next-level selection of consoles, titles, and accessories are offered by a staff that speaks fluent gamer. Ding!

Game Over Videogames, 3005 S. Lamar Ste. B-105B, 512/326-4263,

Game Over Videogames, 911 W. Anderson #106, 512/454-4263,

Game Over Videogames, 110 N. I-35 Ste. 200-A, Round Rock, 512/246-6837,

Game Over Videogames, 1504 Aquarena Springs Dr. #110, San Marcos, 512/878-4684,

Best Vintage
Room Service

This North Loop neighborhood cornucopia of cool is chock-full of vintage household wares, retro baubles and furniture, and an ever-evolving inventory of whimsical midcentury chic. Plan to spend a day trying on costume jewelry, lounging in a pistachio-green wingback chair, and exploring the various nooks, crannies, curiosities, and delights.

Room Service Vintage, 107 E. North Loop, 512/451-1057,

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