Best Record Store — East Side
Melodies and Memories
23013 S. Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe; 586-774-8480
OK, there ain't a store like this in the whole country. Even Hollywood's mighty Amoeba Records doesn't have a thing on Melodies because, well, besides sporting the country's largest lunch box collection, the Motown history here is sick: Martha Reeves, Eminem, Ron Banks and countless others have sung the store's praises (every so often the Melodies folks keep the store open late so Em and his bodyguards can shop). Then there's the personalized memorabilia on its walls, featuring Marvin Gaye and many more. The store has the Midwest's largest selection of box sets, from country to rock to jazz to blues to avant-garde, and it takes whole rooms to house its selections — a couple for its dance titles, another for its classic and pop rock, one for its jazz and R&B, one for its Krautrock, punk, techno and used, and another room for its blues and soundtracks. It often has three stereos going at once, playing different music in different rooms. The place is huge, a lovely crammed-but-organized mess of pop culture and music, which sees more than 50,000 different titles. Melodies is Beatle-freak heaven too (try stumping Bob or Dan on any Fab Four trivia — dudes are faster than Google), and it's a bin-diver's dream (you actually have to get on your knees to hunt through the vinyl).
Best Record Store — West Side
22000 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-561-1000
You'd never know the sales of physical music are down and that the record biz is in the toilet when you step into this glorious record emporium. It's like walking into late last century, a time when record stores hummed fiscally and were crammed full of new and obscure music you couldn't wait to sift through. There are tens of thousands of titles here (more than $1,000,000 worth), including up-to-the-minute and rare imports from Italy, Europe and Japan, and a whole room of just blues and jazz, used and new, plus DVDs, pop culture trinkets and assorted ephemera. You can find hi-res titles too, Alice Cooper gold CDs, box sets and tons of vinyl. This well-run, organized shop has lasted more than 50 years (!) for good reason.
Best Place to See a Local Rock Star Workin' a Day Gig
Car City Records
21918 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-775-4770
It'd be a tall order to list all the local rock stars who've passed behind the counter at this beautifully shambolic and hallowed record store, but if we'd tried we'd cough up such names as Ben Blackwell (Dirtbombs), punk superstar Heath, John Nash (Electric Six, Witches, Volebeats, etc.), Chad Gilchrist (ex-Outrageous Cherry, Blades of Grass, etc.), Mike Alonso (Electric Six, Aquarius Void), DJ Head (Eminem, D12), DJ Daddy Riff (12-Tech Mob), Ralph Valdez (ex-DJ, THTX, Algebra Mothers, Retro, etc.), Liz Copeland (violinist, DJ), Larry Rosa, Bootsey X (Lovemasters, Rocket 455, Coldcock, etc.) Melissa Elliott (Dirt Eaters, the Jills, His Name is Alive), Geoff Walker (Gravitar), Tom Potter (Bantam Rooster, Detroit City Council, Dirtbombs), Len Bukowski (avant-jazz saxophonist), DJ Houseshoes and Tom Lynch. These days you'll sometimes find the ever-genial producer-songwriter Matthew Smith (Andre Williams, THTX, Volebeats, Outrageous Cherry, blah, blah, blah) manning the register along with ex-Go and current F'ke Blood dude Dion Fischer (who also helps run the UFO Factory). And while trolling here you might bump into local star poet M.L. Liebler, dapper journalist-rock stars Mike Hurtt (the Party Stompers) and Ricky Rat, or DJ and Magic Bag talent buyer Willy Wilson, all jawing away while flipping through the expansive bins.
Best Strictly Used Record Store
327 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-548-9888
Its dusty, lived-in interior has the look of an old film screened on a large piece of cardboard splashed with some faded color. In other words, and even on first glance, you know it's a real record store, like one of those that existed a few decades ago in lower Manhattan. And if you're there at precisely the right time, you might catch owner Warren Westfall's witty and self-deprecating monologue whose topics within five minutes could include Buck Owens, Ezra Pound and idiot politics. (Factoid: It was Westfall who gave Metro Times its name all those years ago). The Record Collector's stock is both underground and mainstream, and often great, because you can score many out-of-print titles in jazz, R&B and rock — from 45s to CD box sets — some of which end up on the store's eBay page. The selection stays fairly fresh because there's a heavy turnover of music here, which weighs heavily on the area's musical tastes.
Best Cultural One-Two Punch
Book Beat and Street Corner Music
26010 & 26020 Greenfield Rd., Oak Park
Strange but true fact: Way back in the halcyon days of the 1990s, people often had to actually leave their homes to purchase media, where they had interactions with actual humans. Thankfully you can re-create those thrilling analog days gone by thanks to a happy new commercial real estate coincidence that's as welcome as the first time the proverbial schmuck dropped chocolate in his peanut butter. Book Beat and Street Corner Music are now neighbors. This delightful mash-up was created when soul, rock and blues specialists Street Corner Music split their longtime Southfield location for a new home directly next door to the legendary Book Beat in Oak Park. Now the cream of the printed word and the funkiest of vinyl and CD grooves are just footsteps away, with nary a nametag, apron or cappuccino machine in sight.
Best High-End Audio
David Michael Audio
4300 Delemere Blvd., Suite #201, Royal Oak; 866-961-4423
Shop owner David Kasab is no audio snob, he's just a guy who loves music so much that he has figured out a way to get it to sound the best that it can, and then he turned that into a growing local business. It's no wonder this is the third straight Best Of that DMA has won, because the stereos they sell are the absolute best in the world; including Harbeth handmade speakers, Luxman electronics and Rega turntables. He also has the new Soloos 10 music server, which can change how you listen to music in one elegant — if pricey — swoop. This guy David can help you piece together a killer system, even on a limited budget, and you'll never have to feel intimidated. If you love music, why not hear it the way it was meant to be heard? To hear and see what's in his showroom, call first.
Best Video/DVD Store
Thomas Video & DVD
4732 Rochester Rd., Royal Oak; 248-280-2833; thomasvideo.com
Especially in this era of Netflix and Red Box kiosks at your local market, there's still something to be said for a store with that personal touch ... especially, in this case, one that caters to the film heads (whether your choice is "art" or "trash") among us. They may have relocated in the last year — but Thomas still has the finest collection for rent or sale in town, including Criterion Collection treasures, out-of-print movies, cult classics, anime features and shorts, laser discs, even vintage "adult" fare. And if they don't have it in stock, chances are very good they can find it for you. What's more, the friendly workers know their shit, and they even made their own feature-length film.
Best Place for Used DVDs
29207 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-777-3640
A movie lover's paradise, Hot Hits is jammed to the rafters with an almost overwhelming selection of used DVDs — they're literally stacked from floor to ceiling in some spots. Most have been alphabetized and grouped by genre, but don't be surprised if you find a copy of National Velvet next to a copy of National Treasure. The rummage sale atmo makes having a list of flicks you're looking for a good idea. Don't have one? Never fear, the staff is helpful and doesn't mind crawling around on hands and knees to find your cinematic must-have. Hot Hits also has used video games, action figures, CDs and electronics. Oh, and while you're there why not pick yourself up a new set of wheels — they sell bicycles too.
Best Place to Reinvent Your Wardrobe on the Cheap
23700 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge; 248-414-7440
A vintage sundress, a designer polo, a fedora and a pair of skinny jeans. These are a few cool items you'll discover at Regeneration. Inside this amiable, eclectic boutique, you'll find 2,500 square feet of hand-picked fashion inspiration. Four days a week the store buys clothing, jewelry, shoes and accessories from the public, ranging from 1940s classics to new and gently used designer labels. This keeps the inventory fresh — and keeps creative customers returning. When co-owners Nicole Freund and Melanie Williams opened Regeneration in 2007, their goal was to appeal to everyone. So you never know what you'll find.
Best Clothing Store to Help You Dress Like a Pin-Up
V-Male Detroit Vintage
23902 Van Born Rd., Dearborn Heights; 313-299-8899
Polka-dot petty coats. Ruffle-bottomed panties. Thigh-high stockings. Black-lace corsets. Leopard print peep-toe pumps. Whatever garment or accoutrement you need to strike yer pose is sure to be hanging on the racks of V-Male Detroit Vintage. Specializing in deadstock vintage clothing from the '50s through the '70s, the store's a hot spot for lingerie and burlesque gear too, and is a fave shopping stop for burlesque bombshells. Hey, when Lucious LaMoan graced the cover our own Lust Issue, it was in a V-Male dress — what further proof do you need? Along with the flirty and feminine, the recently expanded shop also carries costume jewelry, vintage sunglasses, hair tonics and pomades, fedoras and, in case you need inspiration for your look, pin-up books and paintings.
Best Place for Clothes for Time Travel to 1960s Paris
Chi Chi and the Greek
3543 Elizabeth Lake Rd. Waterford; 248-255-5039; chichiandthegreek.com
This cozy vintage resale store that's tucked in a strip next to a bicycle shop is really like a fashion museum. But Chi Chi and the Greek is a real store — one that'll feel like you're a little girl playing dress-up in mom's closet — whose collection of designer clothes, French fashions and frolicsome vintage wear makes it worth the trip, though you can shop online. The place may make you wish you'd kept some works from the era of Dianne von Furstenberg wrap dresses and long patchwork skirts, though at Chi Chi's (or is it the Greek's?) we know that they've never gone out of style.
Best Place to Buy a Dress to Wear with Tights and Boots
404 W. Willis St., Detroit; 313 831-4901; flowingfava.com
This lovely boutique in the Cass Corridor next to Avalon Breads is filled with fetching pieces of clothing and accessories. And its affable owner, Felicia Patrick, will offer some choice phrase should you emerge from the dressing room with an actual dress on: "Throw on some tights and boots and mmmmm, ggiiiiiirl!" Sometimes she'll stretch her fashion boundaries and suggest strappy, chunky sandals — but point is, if you're looking for a dress that no one else will have on, this is the place to shop. Check out her hats, jeans and, of course, tights too.
Best Unexpected Place for Men's "Couture"
Multiple locations in metro Detroit; sears.com.
Some of us were practically raised on catalogs, and all paled in comparison to Sears' monument-sized publication. It was the encyclopedia of retail nirvana, and a deadly weapon. But Sears ain't what it used to be, especially in the men's clothing department, where the fashionable and stylish now outweigh the stodgy and dated. It's where you can find a killer selection of Levi's jeans alongside former mall cornerstone Structure (the brand name "Structure" was bought by Sears in 2003 from the Limited); where American essential Land's End hangs from racks next to urban gear by South Pole and LL Cool J. There's also R. Vintage (hip retro styles), Carhartt (industrial work essentials) and NordicTrack (workout wear). Sears is also a bargain hunter's paradise, with clearance racks stuffed to maximum density. No, it's not your grandpa's clothing store.
Best Surprise Stash of Clip-on Earrings
Thicke Madam Boutique
250 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, 248-298-2785
A clothing store that caters to "the modern voluptuous woman" with sizes starting at 12, this Ferndale fashion station also carries a healthy stock of clip-on earrings. And for the rare woman with nary a hole in her ear, that's worth a cross-town trip. But don't expect subdued simple silver hoops, that is, unless they're attached to dangling beads. The selection here is full of color, texture and sparkle.
Best General Store for the 21st Century
111 W. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-213-3722; acmemercantile.com
Take a short turn off Ann Arbor's bustling Main Street and travel half a block until you reach a stately brownstone with display windows crammed with an odd assortment of products, from cleaning supplies to novelty gifts and do-it-yourself guide books. This crowded little store is Acme Mercantile, the self-described "world's smallest department store," which packs into 900 square feet many goods traditionally found at old school hardware stores, office supply stores and drugstores. Acme Mercantile opened in 2002 in order to fill gaps left in downtown Ann Arbor with the closing of those other indie businesses, and the resulting store, despite its size, is easy to get lost in. Products range from organic pet food and natural body washes to tiki mugs and cocktail napkins, T-shirts and shower curtains to kitchen clocks and cannabis cookbooks, as well as a plethora of other fanciful goodies that pop with practical whimsy.
Best Bookstore for Bibliophiles
15 E. Kirby St., Detroit; 313-875-4677
Despite economic woes, Detroit's Midtown quietly flourishes with whiz-kid entrepreneurs opening storefronts, challenging the tanked economy head-on. Leopold's Books recently opened in the Park Shelton next to Good Girls Go to Paris Crêpes. More of a book boutique than a traditional bookstore, Leopold's carries a small, somewhat quirky selection of publications with an emphasis on graphic novels, comic books, local authors, indie efforts and art mags. A selection of classics and some contemporary fiction, including a hearty dose of McSweeney's, as well as unusual nonfiction and a smattering of children's books, also populate the store. It's a sweet spot for book lovers who live to peruse that which is rare to chain stores. And if you're looking for something specific, owner Greg Lenhoff (he's the dude sitting behind the desk) will be more than happy to order it for you.
Best Salon with a Conscience
Curl Up & Dye
4215 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-833-5006; curlupanddyedetroit.com
When this swanky salon with the cheeky name opened last year, it became an instant success — at least with MT readers, who named it best hair salon and best nail salon. A year later, Curl Up & Dye continues to be a reader fave, and it's no wonder, because the salon's indie chic decor — purple walls, sparkling concrete floor, mod chandeliers — creates an atmo that's posh yet free of pretension, and the gracious and professional staff works beauty magic. The salon boasts products too — including its own Cass Corridor brand — that aren't tested on animals, are almost always natural, organic and fairly priced. Whether you've been massaged, coifed, manicured or shaved, you'll stroll out feeling brand-fucking-new.
Best Deal on a Pedicure
Douglas J Aveda Institute
409 S. Center St., Royal Oak; 248-336-5500; douglasj.com
The warm weather is here, and it's time to expose your toes in sandals and flip-flops. But before you do, you might want to make an appointment at Douglas J Aveda Institute in Royal Oak for an Express Pedicure. Under the supervision of a certified instructor, an Aveda student will get your toenails summer-ready for less than $30. That includes filing, shaping and applying nail color. And you get to keep the bottle of polish. This spacious spa, school and salon offers a full menu of luxury services — haircuts and color, facials, body treatments, professional makeup application and more — at reduced prices. And it's all done in an elegant Zenlike setting that captures Aveda's Earth-friendly spirit.
Best Affordable Acupuncture
Community Health Acupuncture
801 Livernois St., Ferndale; 248-246-7289; communityacucenter.com
This Chinese practice works wonders for a variety of ailments — including joint pain, asthma, migraines, even infertility and anxiety. One MT editor was told to seek a different career when a carpel tunnel syndrome problem became too severe ... until those tiny Oriental needles eased the pain. In America, though, acupuncture has become a treatment for rich folks, with a single session running anywhere from $80 to $300. God bless Michigan native Darlene Berger for her group treatment facility (which is the way it's done in China) in Ferndale, which operates on a $15-$35 per session sliding scale. CHAC is part of a national network, which includes two other metro area centers with the same payment scale — in downtown Detroit and Livonia. Berger, who recently added a second acupuncturist, Carol Soborowski, to her practice, says, "This isn't charity. The objective is to provide treatment to as many people as possible by making it as affordable as possible." If Western medicine isn't working for you, this is worth a shot. The first Friday of each month, treatments for first-time patients are free.
Best Indie Craft Fair
Shadow Art Fair
This DIY craft fest of "stuff that people make" has run since 2005, and now draws thousands of visitors twice a year. It was founded by a group of friends that included Ypsilanti zinesters Linette and Mark Maynard, and Mark says they "started it for all the reasons we got into zining ... to bring together a lot of people doing creative stuff who had dead-end jobs." But the fair is no small beer, and it has grown into a large, juried and fun event allowing local artists to exhibit and sell works within a "comfortable, friendly, and supportive setting." Twice a year, the 12-hour mini-fest takes over Ypsi's Corner Brewery, keeping shopping local and spirited, with live music, craft beer and unusual special activities.
Best Place to Shop with Civil War Re-Enactors
Detroit Historical Society Guild Flea Market
This twice-yearly flea market at Historic Fort Wayne occupies one of the fort's many large buildings and splays out onto the surrounding lawn. The market is a treasure trove of the delightful, the curious, the collectible and the strange, with vendors hawking antiques, arts and crafts, vintage memorabilia, costume jewelry, records, paintings, retro sports equipment ... the list goes on and on. But the best part is the location — after buying your bow and arrows, you can wander the fort grounds, stumbling upon military drills being performed by soldiers from all eras, Civil War to present. Official, guided tours are offered both days for only $3, where a knowledgeable volunteer will fill you in on the minutiae of its history.
Best Store to Lose an Hour or Two
112 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-542-9594; parisofroyaloak.com
If you can afford jetting to Paris for a weekend of leisurely strolls through street markets cluttered with beautiful things, good for you. For us, there's the Royal Oak's Paris Antiques. In business since 1999, Paris sells a continuously evolving set of merchandise that includes clothing, jewelry, accessories and furniture, both new and vintage. And while the prices may still be out of many budgets — three-digit figures are the norm — an hour or two browsing the beautiful array of objects, trying on a spectacular 1950s vintage prom dress and imagining that antique art deco mirror hanging in your bedroom, are still the absolutely best way of wasting two hours.
Best Place to Find Anything Old
Global Village Collectibles
51 Harper Ave., Detroit
There are scads of old houses in Detroit with lots of old things in their attics, and much of that stuff seems to wind up at Global Village Collectibles. Housed in an old building with a narrow storefront, the store looks like someone's long-neglected basement, stuffed with beautifully aged trash and treasures. Everything is piled 5 feet high in a massive, unsorted heap that runs the store's length, spilling into side rooms. The upstairs is equally crammed with stacks of furniture, glassware, memorabilia and collectibles, and all colors of buried gems. Its odd, seemingly unfinished motto, "The corner stone of your antique," which is written on the sign out front, is a fitting description for this store's unpredictable, haphazard offerings. Open seven days. The door is usually locked; knock to get in.
Best Bike Shop
Eastside Bike Shop
26210 Van Dyke Ave., Center Line; 586-756-2001
In a nondescript little corner building on Van Dyke, Eastside Bike has everything you could ask for from a bike store, whether you're an experienced peddler or new to the two-wheeled bandwagon. The shop not only offers a wide selection of new rides — including low-riders, choppers and BMXs — but also an unparalleled inventory of used, classic and unusual hard-to-find bikes, as well as a full-line of accessories and supplies, both new and used. But what sets Eastside Bike Shop apart is the service. Family-owned and -operated since 1982, the owner brings with him more than 45 years experience in the bike biz and, if the raves of loyal customers are to be believed, can repair anything, including antiques and classics, usually within one day.
Best Unusual Wine Shop
Second Floor, 608 Woodward Ave., Detroit; motorcitywine.com
This little wine shop may never have the huge selection common to suburban outlets, but what it does have are two passionate wine lovers whose mission is to help busy Detroiters expand their horizons. In that regard, expect expert tastings, knowledgeable suggestions and beaucoup personal service from two folks who know their wine (one of them's from Quebec, after all), and it's all at competitive prices. The downtown location allows working commuters to order their wine online and pick it up later, and they also offer a limited delivery service. Don't see what you like? They'll order it. Don't know what you like? You're just a private consultation away from finding what you do. Want to buy one for tippling on premises? Their $5 corkage fee is much cheaper than any restaurant markup.
Best Locally Made Tortilla Chips and Salsa
1505 Bonner, Ferndale; 248-336-8486; gardenfreshsalsa.com
Jack and Annette Aronson started their business in the back of a little restaurant in Ferndale, where their handmade salsa became such a hit with customers they began selling it in jars. Their secret? High-quality natural ingredients and attention to detail went into every batch. Today the Aronsons run a gourmet food factory in Ferndale where they also make a variety of chips to go with their famous salsa. Garden Fresh kettle-style tortilla chips reflect the same passion and artistry that goes into all the company's products. And because they're steadfastly local, the chips are fresh — and arguably the best available — and come in a variety of flavors: original, blue corn, toasted sesame and unsalted. Garden Fresh supports several charities. Each month a portion of its profits are donated to the Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation.
Best Place to Buy Ice Cream
Hamtramck's ragtag fleet of motley ice cream trucks is so large, you'll likely always have "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" in earshot. Throughout a summer day, what seem to be several hundred ice cream trucks ply the streets of this 2.1-square-mile city, which means they are absolutely everywhere. If you get up close, you might even appreciate their hand-painted charm. No two are alike, and there are even a few old New York City-area Mr. Softee trucks in the bunch, all creatively decorated and patched up like it's Havana. Watch long enough and you may even see an unusual ice cream motorcycle putter along — complete with sidecar and rear-mounted freezer case. When they get close enough, sometimes they'll drown out their own prerecorded ditty, as all of the trucks seem to use the very latest in loud-engine technology to keep the ice cream cool. And they're absolutely everywhere. As one friend observed, "Hasn't that ice cream truck been by here three times in five minutes? And there's an ice cream stand on the corner!" Welcome to Hamtown, pal.
Best Southeast Asian Shopping Destination
13 Mile Rd & Dequindre, Madison Heights
This little strip mall corner of Madison Heights has it all. Grab lunch, dinner or take home a classic Vietnamese sandwich from Pho Hang. Next door, Kim Nhung Super Foods sells everything you need to make an authentic meal in your own kitchen. Further down, QQ Bakery is a little gem that offers everything from bubble tea to curry pastries, but really shines with a simple sponge cake so light and airy you'll think you're eating sweet vapors. Finally, for a quick, hot portion of pork or duck to go, visit Liang's Oriental BBQ.
Best Grocery Store Wine Selection
447 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-546-7288; westernmarket.net
Wine is an agricultural product and belongs in grocery stores. Unfortunately, the typical selection in these establishments is bleak, full of corporate labels. But Ferndale's Western Market brings fine wine to the people. Shelves are loaded with everything from bargain table wines to obscure, small production, natural wines that tastemakers in New York and San Francisco have been gushing over for the past couple of years.
Best Meat Market
Western Fruit & Meat Market
447 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-546-7288; westernmarket.net
No, we're not talking about the best place for singles to hook up ... though we could and do recommend a few of those elsewhere in this issue. With all due apologies to our vegetarian friends, this terrific little boutique market in the heart of downtown Ferndale arguably has the best meat counter in the metro area. People always standing in front of it, waiting for their number to be called; the ground round seems especially popular. Personally, we dig the marinated meats — particularly those of the kebab variety ... and the roasted garlic ones are simply scrumptious. All you really need after a visit to the store is a fired-up grill.
Best Local Coffee
The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company
389 Enterprise Court, Bloomfield Hills; 800-645-6077; greatlakescoffee.com
Coffee beans aren't local but coffee roasters can be. Located in Bloomfield Hills, the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company is a small-batch micro-roaster of certified, specialty grade coffees with an emphasis on Fair Trade Organic coffees. What makes their java so good is that they roast each individual type of bean to best develop its particular flavor characteristics. Find their excellent single bean varieties and blends at gourmet markets throughout Detroit.
Best Non-Health Food Store Salad Bar
27659 Woodward Ave., Berkley; 248-547-1000;
additional locations in Dearborn and Livonia; westbornmarket.com
It's still not that easy to find a decent salad bar at a grocery store in the metro Detroit area — but we have to give this boutique market kudos for its consistency. Even Whole Foods Markets — which did well in our last two "Best of" issues — has disappointed us at times of late for inconsistency. For instance, they often don't have blue cheese at their bar ... and we're sorry, but a salad bar without blue cheese just ain't a proper salad bar. But Westborn always seems to have the exact same items — cheese, fruit, chicken and crabmeat (in addition to those healthy veggies) at their bar, seven days a week, 12 months a year. When it comes to salads, it's nice to know there's one place you can depend on in the area. Check out their nearby soup bar as well (the variety of soups for that day are listed on their website for each location). In a word: It's awesome.
Best New Detroit Export
There's been a ton of talk over the last few years about the Detroit-Brooklyn connection, mainly as it pertains to music, fashion and such websites as latfh.com — but here's a link you can really bite into: McClure's Pickles. It's the brainchild of the McClure family, spearheaded (bam!) by brothers Joe and Bob, the latter being the Brooklyn-based half of the operation, an actor who plays Jed on The Burg. Using their great-grandmother Lala's recipe, the boys started the company after years of making pickles in their tiny Michigan kitchen. But it's not just pickles — relish, mustard and other McClure's products are now made just outside of Detroit, and in Brooklyn too, using as much local produce as possible. Every jar is hand-packed, the cucumbers hand-sliced, and the labels, printed by Rolling Press, use soy and vegetable inks with chemical-free plating and are created with wind-powered electricity.
Best Product of a Second Career
Deadline! — Second Block, by Paula Tutman
295 pp., $15.95, Dailey Swan Publishing, available at local bookstores, including Little Professor and Book Beat; deadlinethebook.com
You've seen her perky self on WDIV-TV4 for years but she's also a writer and has been a grizzled police reporter in her successful career. And that stint on the streets with Detroit's finest — along with a vivid imagination — gave Paula Tutman at least some of the inspiration for her second novel, released this spring. Picking up where her first book left off (Deadline! published in 2008), Second Block brings fictional Detroit TV reporter P.S. Garrett back on the job of murder and mayhem. As she's covering grizzly murders, she's unaware — at least early in the book — that the killer is committing crimes so that she'll cover them. His obsession with her and her obsession with her job brings plot twists, pretzels, really, until her work as a journalist nearly kills her and saves her life. Part thriller plus part mystery equals fun read. And with a twist at the end, book three is all but guaranteed. Write on, Tutman.
Best Idea for Detroit's Creative Capitalists
In recent years, Detroit's fashion scene has built up some steam — we hear of a new designer or fashion event on a bi-monthly basis, these days. But there's a speed bump in the road. From our perspective, the only thing getting in the way of an all-out movement is some kind of real organization. So here it is, fashionistas: Find a neighborhood in Detroit and move there, all of you, within a short span of time. Call it the Detroit Fashion District, and start marketing it. This is basically organized gentrification. We know gentrification is still a dirty word for many of you, but for the city to rise from the ashes, what's in a name? Looking at Detroit fashion is to look at a cluster of islands spread across at least three counties. Think of the empowerment in geography. If you got together for an organized relocation, you'd demand places to pick up morning coffee and after-work cocktails, you'd require fabric stores, you'd need designers, pattern makers, photographers, modeling agencies and seamstresses within close proximity. You could open up boutique storefronts too. And wouldn't you want to live near where you work? Just an idea.
Best Cleaning Service
27042 Sprucewood Dr., Wixom; 313-285-79191; 313-414-7428 or 313-285-7191; [email protected]
You never realize how hard it is to find a decent house cleaner until you look for one. You probably never heard of Rejoice Cleaning before (they maintain a low profile) — so how do we know the work of the hubby-wife team of Chris & Toni Blaylock (plus, their co-workers) is superb? Well, for years, the crew cleaned Metro Times' offices, and some of us had them clean our homes. Take our word: The place, no matter the condition, will be immaculate when they're done, and they never fail to go beyond the call of duty. We call them true "artists" when it comes to the art of cleaning. And they're as trustworthy as they come. Rejoice is available for both businesses (including entire buildings) and private residences alike.
Best Home Air Vent/Duct Cleaning Service
Ventcorp Enterprises Incorporated
773 Argentine Rd., Howell; 248-347-9300; ventcorp.net
There are a ton of vent/duct cleaning services in the area — they're all over those mailbox advertising circulars. Some are better than others, of course — there are many scams out there — and never trust those who quote a ridiculously low price. If it doesn't cost at least $300 for an average-sized house, it's probably not a reliable or legitimate service. But we'll tell you exactly why we prefer Ventcorp over the others. Mainly because the owner, Dave Saunders, is such a professional, up-front and courteous dude. He's friendly, upbeat and answered every damn question, explaining every single detail. Plus, recently, when one of us had an indoor air quality problem and phoned him, he answered questions, gave advice ... and didn't receive a penny for his knowledge and time. Dude takes pride in his work. How rare is that?
Best Indie Women's Clothing in Detroit
Best Indie Men's Clothing in Detroit
5708 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-875-9280
Piles of punk rock and rock star "fashion," from imported creepers to sexed-out knee-high platforms to vintage racks stuffed with one-of-a-kind shirts and T's to those made to look like that. There are aged bomber jackets, pink boas, hot pants, shades, fishnets, flares and straight legs. You'll even find Marc Bolan-ish hats and studded Joe Strummer belts, styled 1977! And then there are the dresses and mini-skirts, some vintage, but mostly new. The jewelry is dark and silver mostly, and there's a shit-ton of it, all badass, plus some behind-the-counter sexual threads, which completes the idea that the warehouse-sized Showtime is a one-stop shop.
Best Indie Women's Clothing in Suburbs
Best Indie Men's Clothing in Suburbs
323 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-548-2980; incognitoinc.com
Since 1982, the style mavens at Incognito have been the reigning harbingers of hip in metro Detroit, featuring out-of-the-box apparel (including such rising labels as Hell Bunny, Joyrich and Kid Dangerous), and stunner shoes not available at chain retailers, for men and women. Incognito caters to those comfortable in both smokin' hot cocktail dresses and Converse. And though it's not the cheapest shop on the block, it's internationally famous for its eyewear, and the wow factor weighs in as heavily as the fact that it's local.
Best Vintage Clothing
Lost and Found Vintage
510 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-548-6154; lostandfoundvintage.com
For vintage lovers, nothing compares to stepping into Lost and Found Vintage for the first time — the meticulously preserved fashions of the past fill three floors, hang from the ceiling, adorn the wall and clothe faceless mannequins who don't know how lucky they are. Despite the massive stock of premium duds that date from the 1900s to the 1980s, the shop never feels crowded or crammed. Instead, its well-organized layout and airy atmosphere make finding the perfect garment — from the affordable to the couture — a breeze; they sell accessories, shoes and records as well.
Best Thrift Shop
Various locations; see salvationarmyusa.org
It'll be a cold day in hell when any other thrift store manages to wrest this title away from the Salvation Army. With its numberless locations and endless variety of merchandise, it's the consummate thrift store, selling everything from used kitchenware and satisfyingly cheap vintage duds to Boots Randolph records and overlooked audio equipment. What's more, all the proceeds fund the army's rehabilitation centers and long-term residential facilities.
Best Place to Satisfy a Shoe fetish
325 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-547-7650; 329 S. Main St., Rochester; 248-652-9305; 207 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-369-4697; 87 E. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-831-9013
If you don't have the time, money or energy to travel to New York, Los Angeles or London to buy shoes, fear not: These shoe merchants have done that for you. And their finds are now your finds. Whether it's riding boots you'll wear with skirts all winter, strappy colorful sandals for spring weddings or animal-print clogs to throw on with jeans, the Sole Sisters have them.
Best Eyewear Boutique
160 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-723-1900; 308 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-622-8056; for more locations, visit seeeyewear.com
The near- and far-sighted among us know that good eyewear is essential, not just for practical purposes (they help you see, duh!), but also from a fashion standpoint — your glasses are often the first thing people notice about you. Unfortunately, most fashionable frames are as expensive as hell, which is why SEE is so attractive. European designers create frames exclusively for the store, making them that elusive combo of hip-yet-affordable. Started in Birmingham by Richard Golden of DOC fame, SEE now has locations throughout the country — and has even been featured on Oprah.
Best Indie Lingerie Shop
265 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-642-2555
The selection is like Santa's list: a little bit naughty but mostly nice. Whether you need the perfect undergarment for a backless dress or a plunging neckline, the sales staff here will find it for you. Personal fittings are a hallmark, and the selection is plentiful. Loyal customers report that once they find Harp's, they won't go anywhere else.
Best Nail Salon
Best Hair Salon
Curl Up & Dye
4215 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-833-5006; curlupanddyedetroit.com
Open for almost a year-and-a-half, Curl Up & Dye already boasts more than 2,000 clients and it's no wonder why — the salon offers a full range of pampering services at affordable prices, from cuts and coloring to polishing up those pretty little piggies. Its commitment to beauty is nearly matched by its commitment to the environment — most products are natural and organic and everything that can be recycled is. Other beautifying options available include massages, facials, waxing, hair extensions, ear candling and makeup.
Best Salon for African-American Hair
Best Hair Stylist
Textures by Nefertiti, Nefertiti
4147 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-4771; texturesbynef.com
In her new midtown location, Nefertiti's salon is more than just a place for hair. It's a place for embracing the natural — the curly, kinky hair that African-American women sometimes fight so hard against. Her work testifies to a celebration of African-American beauty itself, not its transformation into another culture's ideal. Here, with what is really spiritual guidance from Nefertiti, it's possible to have hair that's maintained, professional and stylish without hot combs, perms or heavy chemicals. Twists and braids replace weaves and straightening for young and old, men and women.
Best Makeup Artist
Myranda Jennings at Curl Up & Dye
4215 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-833-5006; curlupanddyedetroit.com
As any woman (or dude) who's ever wielded an eyeliner pencil in vain knows they're called artists for a reason. For occasions when your own attempts at higher cheeks and arched eyebrows just won't do, it's important to seek the help of the right professional. Enter Myranda Jennings, Curl Up & Dye's resident cosmetics guru. No matter the look you want — whether sweetly feminine or ultra glam — she's got you covered at reasonable prices — $40 for the whole face, $25 for your eyes only. Along with makeup, Myranda also tames unruly eyebrows, administers facials and is the shop's massage therapist.
Best Flea Market
2045 Dixie Hwy., Waterford; 248-338-3220; dixielandfleamkt.com
Whether you need a rickshaw or a beer cooler, a banjo or a Seger T-shirt, Dixieland Market Place is the treasure hunter's dream. Open Friday though Sunday only, admission and parking are free. Shoppers will find, among its myriad booths under one roof, what they came for — and will probably leave with more. If we said there was a "wide selection" that would win "Best Understatement" for this shopping site. Ain't that America!
Best Antique Shop
23622 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge; 248-546-1555
This large store is well-stocked with quality vintage goods, from records and knickknacks to jewelry and clothing. Vogue Vintage is an especially sweet spot for furniture — pieces are in great shape, often looking barely used. If nothing catches your eye while browsing the store, inquire about the warehouse. It's just a short trip away and houses most of the furniture collection. The staff seems to have the inventory memorized, so if you're looking for something specific, stop searching and just ask.
Best Makeup Studio
239 Pierce St., Birmingham; 248-594-0003; toddsroombirmingham.com
Whether it's a wedding, some all-night party or some random need for a new look, Todd's roster of artists will fix you right up. Plan on an hour and $55 to $80 for a full make-up application. Eyebrow arching and mani-pedis are also available. We'd probably not ask for Tweezer, the studio's doggie mascot, to do the waxing. Too much fur in the way.
Best Adult Novelty
124 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-541-6655; noirleather.com
Rubber hoods, spiked collars, wrist restraints, silk silicone dildos, strap-ons, paddles ... whatever's your kink this week, Noir Leather's, um, bound to have it in stock. The store has supplied lusty metro Detroiters with fetish gear for 26 years, but if ball gags and riding crops are a little too extreme, just gander at the store's selection of unusual apparel, shoes, hosiery, wigs, jewelry and leather jackets, pants and chaps, as well as the unique leather items made by the store's own leather crafter.
Best Tattoo Shop
27590 Plymouth Rd., Livonia; 734-425-0428; for more locations, see eternaltattoos.com
For 30 years this shop has been inking and "arting" skin in the Motor City. That's 30 years! So, of course, they now offer tat removal and their Brighton (one of five locations) site, should you finally decide to erase forever that soused night in high school where you had "NIRVANA" tattooed in large letters straight across your chest. Truth be told, these guys are artisans, first and foremost. So trip down if you're in need of a new design or one of Eternal's artists to fix someone else's work. Eternal's founder, Terry "Tramp" Welker, continues his commitment to the industry, hosting the annual Motor City Tattoo Expo.
Best Body-Piercing Shop
5310 Highland Rd., Waterford; 248-673-0670; ladyluckink.com
Here's where noses, ears and navels meet stones, barbells, balls and more. Choose the site and the design and Tiffany at Lady Luck will have you pierced with attention to your particular needs. It's not a one-piercing-for-all mentality here, but instead has plenty of attention to your own anatomy. And for the patriot in you, all of this shop's steel, titanium, gold, dental acrylic and glass jewelry is made in the USA.
Best Smoke Shop
Best Head Shop
B.D.T. Pipe & Tobacco
21640 John R Rd., Hazel Park; 248-542-6110; 27419 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-776-5233
There are plenty of head shops in the metro Detroit area, but MT readers consistently favor B.D.T.'s. With nearly 40 years in the biz (it's one of the oldest head shops still up and running), the shop offers all the paraphernalia a dedicated smoker could hope for — from an extensive selection of pipes (including beautiful hand-blown glass ones) to vaporizers to drug tests and fake bladders complete with urine. Oh, boy! And the friendly and very knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to help you find whatever accoutrement you need for your smoking pleasure.
Best Michigan Product
Who can resist the brightly colored allure of a Faygo pop as it beckons from the cooler of your corner liquor store? Founded in Detroit in 1907, the soda that popped when it opened came in three flavors based on cake frosting recipes. Now, you can sample more than 50 varieties, including favorites redpop, rock & rye and root beer (recently named one of the best-tasting American root beers by Bon Appetit magazine). And if drinking the fizzy nectar isn't enough, Faygo released a recipe book to coincide with its 100th anniversary in 2007; inside find instructions on how to make everything from Faygo chocolate cake to rock & rye burger bean pie.
Best Comic Book Shop
23333 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-2669; detroitcomics.com
A polished Ferndale gem that gleams as brightly as a Green Lantern ring, Detroit Comics is a refreshingly breezy shopping experience, without that dreaded dank, geeky comic book store aroma. Owner Brian Kelly is the hippest nerd in town, always ready to embrace newcomers and sass back at regulars, lending the joint the relaxed, homey feeling of your favorite dive bar, but with only slightly more capes, spandex and killer robots.
Best Indie Bookstore in Detroit
John K. King Used & Rare Books
901 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-961-0622; rarebooklink.com
We almost wish this would lose the readers' poll so we could make a category of our own for this beloved downtown institution. But, dear readers, you keep recognizing John King for best indie bookstore in Detroit. And there's absolutely nothing to argue there.
Best Indie Bookstore in Suburbs
26010 Greenfield Rd., Oak Park; 248-968-1190; thebookbeat.com
Once in a while, the suburban strip malls surprise us and house some real gems, and Book Beat is one of those. Maybe it's the selection, with plenty of local authors represented, or maybe it's the store's involvement with author appearances and book signings in partnership with local organizations. Maybe it's just the kickass atmo, or the easy access to the store from Interstate 696, or that there's an indie with a literary bent that's surviving the fiscal climate.
Best Video Selection
Thomas Video & DVD
4732 Rochester Rd., Royal Oak; 248-280-2833; thomasvideo.com
The original and best independent video store in town, and by some accounts one of the first in the world, continues to bust ass while the competition evaporates. Yes, they stock the latest hits, but why bother when this incredible joint rents everything from Frank Capra to Frankenhooker? Co-owner Jim Olenski literally wrote the book (VideoHound's Cult Flicks and Trash Hits) on oddball cinema, and his passion and encyclopedic knowledge are shared by the ever-fun and gently sarcastic staff.
Best Shop for Gamers
With more than 6,100 stores located across the globe, GameStop is the world's largest video game retailer, perhaps proving that bigger really is better. Well, at least when it comes to pimping out your Nintendo Wii. The store sells games both new and used for just about every system in existence, offers deals and credits when you trade in your old games, and features downloadable games on its website.
Best Record Store
Best Record Store for Local Music
Best Record Store for Vinyl
27360 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-775-1550; recordtime.com
Record Time is a trusted brand name, a cherished resource for diehard music lovers in this scary, new media world. Woodward corridor fans are still pissing and moaning about the loss of the Ferndale branch, but they can take solace in the loving embrace of the huge east side storefront that keeps on rocking in the free world. Haul it on out to Roseville and you'll discover a treasure trove of all things flat, black and circular, as well as those newfangled shiny silver plastic music discs all the kids are wild about. Record Time has been dropping science since 1983, and has bolstered the wax collections of a who's who of Detroit's biggest musical exports, such as former loyal shoppers Eminem and Kid Rock, as well as the homegrown stars of tomorrow, still flipping through the racks for the latest groove to blow their minds wide open.
Best Store for Musical Instruments
31940 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-296-6161; for more locations, see guitarcenter.com
From humble beginning in 1960s California, Guitar Center has grown into the nation's largest retailer of musical instruments. The mega-store carries all the well-known brands, with plenty of on-staff rock stars on hand to answer all your gearhead questions, and fret out some dweedlee-dweedlee-dweedlee-dee action through with the store's platinum gear.
Best Skate/Skateboard/etc. Shop
Modern Skate and Surf
29862 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-5700; 1500 N. Stephenson Hwy., Royal Oak; Also Lansing and Grand Rapids; 248-546-PARK; modernskate.com
After rollerskates came inlines and skateboards in 1981. Now this retail giant is the place for the proper gear — and some your grandmother might consider "improper" — for shredding, thrashing and surfing on concrete, snow or water.
Best Bicycle Shop in Detroit
3611 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-879-5073 thehubofdetroit.org
With bike sales and maintenance bringing the money in and youth and educational programming spending it, the Hub is part bike shop, part repair shop, part community advocacy organization. Its nonprofit partner, Back Alley Bikes, does youth outreach and education in partnership with other city groups and trains "future" bike mechanics. As such, they'll take donations of bikes and parts (cash too!) as well as sell you a new ride. And look for employees and volunteers on most of the organized rides around the city.
Best Bicycle Shop in Suburbs
Continental Bicycle Shop
24436 John R Rd., Hazel Park; 248-545-1225; continentalbikeshop.com
As Michigan figures out its future is most likely on two wheels, Continental Bike Shop is ready. It has bikes, helmets, parts, clothing and accessories like lights, packs and fenders, as well as technicians ready to fix your current ride or fit your new ride to your body size, shape and style. Continental's website is more than an extension of the store. Sure, it has the requisite views of in-store items but also a fine listing of cycling news and advocacy information.
Best Indie Hardware Shop in Detroit
1401 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; 313-567-0785
Located between Eastern Market and downtown, the family-owned Busy Bee Hardware has whatever you need for the inside or the outside of your urban or suburban home. It's the antitheses of the idea behind Home Depot, and here you get knowledgeable, first-hand advice from a patient person about whatever project you may or may not be tripping into. It's also a convenient stop on the way to or from Eastern Market. We love this place.
Best Indie Hardware Shop in suburbs
Frentz & Sons Hardware
1010 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-544-8111; frentzandsons.com
The wooden floors might sink a bit with your step and the shop's history. Started in Detroit in 1925 and moved to Royal Oak seven years later, the crowded aisles might make whatever tool or part you're looking for a little more challenging to find, but the Frentz brothers — John, Mike and Chip — will be on hand to help. They'll re-key locks, cut and thread pipes, repair windows and screens and also offer wise counsel on whatever project you're tackling.
503 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-398-5153; 1300 Broadway, Detroit; 313-964-5777; blumz.com
Nothing brightens the mood set by a room, table or desk better than fresh flowers or a healthy plant. Keep that in mind when you head into one of Blumz's two locations — and we dare you to not smile and take something for your home, to the office or to give away. Whimsical vases and other gifts make the enchantment here even sweeter.
Best Jewelry Design
Available at local boutiques and art gallery stores; gemeladesign.com
Spanish for "twin," Gemela was the obvious choice for the business setup by design team duo Diana and Julie Verdugo. Their passion for travel couldn't help but infuse their designs, a creative collaboration of the siblings. Inspired by the flash of fashion runways and the richness of ethnic cultures, Gemela Design's pieces are distinct, fun and savvy. The colorful necklaces in the "Ready-to-Wear" collection are named after foreign cities while the recently launched "Couture" line features one-of-a-kind pieces with a mix of materials the sisters have collected from around the world.
Best Jewelry Repair
Mount 'n' Repair
205 Pierce St., Birmingham; 248-647-8670; mount-n-repair.com
Decided where to send your beloved jewelry for replacement of missing links, general repair or restringing or resizing of a favorite family piece isn't always an easy decision. But our readers have vetted Mount 'n' Repair for us. They'll do the simple maintenance like replacing watch batteries, but they'll also take as much care with your favorite costume pieces that need tuning up as they will with your finer jewels.
Best Place to Sell Your Gold
Tapper's Diamonds & Fine Jewelry
6337 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-932-7700; tappersgold.com
Last year, this family-owned and -operated business, which has been selling jewelry for more than 30 years, opened five gold-buying locations. Tapper's Gold Exchange provides a trustworthy spot where you can ditch your old gold in return for some instant cash. All gold is weighed and measured in front of the sellers and Tapper's pays anywhere from 6 to 150 percent more for gold than its competitors. Holy jeez! If that ain't enough cheddar to convince, customers also receive $25 when they refer a friend.
Best Indie Furniture Store
220 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-9940; 22110 Telegraph Rd., Southfield; 248-352-5811; brightideasfurniture.com
Some of it's definitely funky, some of it's just plain fun. Whether you're looking to furnish your loft condo, your bungalow or your McMansion, this downtown Royal Oak vendor will have everything from a single lamp to a whole room's worth of furniture choices for an aesthetically sound space.
Best Place to Buy Home Accessories
41640 Ford Rd., Canton; 734-981-6300; ikea.com
This Swedish import blends the best of the mall with the best of the individual retailer; it has the space and selection and the ability to showcase originality with style. Here you can find furnishings for every lifestyle. Ikea's inventory works in dorm rooms, apartments, lofts, homes, cabins, wherever. The stuff is affordable with a sense of style as great as its functionality.
Best Place for Audio Gear
All hail the big box! At least, when it comes to audio. At least, according to our readers. Whether you're constructing a home theater or the perfect multiroom audio setup for your music collection, Best Buy can supply it. Not sure what the hell you're doing? A polo-shirted staff member will help you figure it out. Don't feel like leaving your house? Shop online to receive free shipping on thousands of items or to utilize the Ask & Answer feature, which allows you to query other shoppers and Best Buy staff.
Best Place for Car Audio Equipment
Various locations, see mickeyshorr.com
In 1967, DJ Mickey Shorr opened up his flagship audio store on Davison in Detroit, with only $1,000 in his pocket and just one installer working for him. Now, with more than 16 stores located throughout the state, Mickey Shorr is the place for car audio gear. There are the top brands (Kenwood, Viper, Sirius, etc.), and Mickey's beats all competitor pricing, provides installation service by certified pros and accepts trade-ins for as much as $250 store credit. The shops also carry marine audio equipment, remote starters, navigation systems and more.
Best Place to Buy a Domestic Car
Roy O'Brien Ford
22201 E. Nine Mile Rd., St. Clair Shores; 586-776-7600; royobrien.com
Its slogan is "stay on the right track to Nine Mile and Mack," but lucky for Roy O'Brien Ford, the dealership has a lot more to recommend itself than a rhyming jingle. It has consistently been ranked one of the top Ford dealerships in the country for customer satisfaction, no doubt due to the knowledgeable and experienced staff, many of whom have more than 10 years of experience in the field. Other perks offered by O'Brien's include free Wi-Fi in the service department, a free tank of gas with all new vehicle purchases and a free service loaner during the length of the three-year factory lease on new cars.
Best Place to Buy a Foreign Car
21350 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-6300; ferndalehonda.com
Courteous and friendly service goes a long way when purchasing a vehicle. Perhaps that's why MT readers selected Ferndale Honda as the best place to buy a (cough) foreign car. This stalwart dealership located just north of Eight Mile is known for its accommodating staff that will help you pick out the perfect new or used ride. If yours needs some love, the service department is quick and efficient with a comfortable waiting room — a perk that should never be underestimated.
Best Domestic Car
By the turn of the century, most domestic sedans were timid little slabs of sheet metal that just couldn't compete with sleek, efficient Japanese econo boxes. But skyrocketing gas prices forced a major rethink, and Ford was quick on the throttle of change. The result is the fun and fashionable Fusion, a dependable, fuel-efficient and super-smooth ride. The 2010 Motor Trend car of the year sports a 2.5 liter, four-cylinder, 175-horsepower engine that blows away the average grocery-getter, and the sporty plug-in Hybrid model sips fuel like a school marm does booze at a garden party, all for an affordable price tag.
Best Foreign Car
At the risk of hate mail (including voice mail and e-mail), the Honda win in this category isn't without merit. The mostly smaller cars — meaning you can't fit a whole Cub Scout troop in it — are reliable, efficient and hold their value with little needed maintenance. The recent Toyota flap involving the Prius can't hurt Honda's chances here either.
Best Car Wash
Best Car Detailer
28845 Telegraph Rd., Southfield; 248-353-4700; for more locations, see jaxkarwash.com
This is the Motor City after all, but city driving and nasty weather can be sheer murder on a paint job. Who wants to cruise down Woodward in a janky, sludge-covered ride? Fortunately Jax has you covered, so to speak, with six locations that have made them a favorite auto-scrubbing hot spot since '53. Carpet shampooing, wax, leather treatment, Jax does it all to keep your whip looking correct, and ready to blow the doors off all those sad, grimy hoopties stalling out on the boulevard.
19390 W. 10 Mile Rd., Southfield; 248-355-5555; fiegerlaw.com
Whether he's making headlines, TV commercials or actual court appearances, the well-coifed Geoffrey Fieger continues to win reader admiration. The theatrical Southfield attorney became an international sensation with his representation of Dr. Death — Jack Kevorkian — in the early 1990s. Fieger, the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, recently said he was pondering another run at the state's highest office. Hmmm, we didn't see him in those readers' picks.
Best Gift Shop
117 W. 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-336-2030; 203 E. University Dr., Rochester; 248-650-3318; catchingfireflies.com
Look, it's as simple as this: Catching Fireflies' two locations put the fun in functional. Many colorful gifts get the "awww" for cuteness, with such items as the baby cupcake crinkler toy or the little dust bunny puppet for cleaning your computer screen, while the "mmmm" sound rises with the aromatherapy shower steamers. Perfect for shower favors or "just because" gifts to your girlfriends, these stores also have dude stuff like barbecue books and desk accessories.
Best Indie Health Food Store
Natural Food Patch
221 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-546-5908; naturalfoodpatch.com
For a little more than a decade, the Natural Food Patch has been peddling natural and organic alternatives as a traditional grocery store. The 5,200-square-foot space features organic produce, herbal teas, health drinks, grains, vitamins and organic health and beauty products, as well as environmentally friendly cleaning products and even organic items for babies. While smaller than Whole Foods, it's also less overwhelming and gives the added bonus of making your shopping trip not just healthy, but local.
Best Independent Grocery —Wayne
Honey Bee La Colmena
2443 Bagley Ave., Detroit; 313-237-0295; honeybeemkt.com
In a city known for food deserts, Honey Bee is an oasis. Sure, its aisles are crammed with all the usual grocery staples, but Honey Bee also offers what a lot of other stores (especially in Detroit) don't — fresh produce, quality meats, excellent hot foods and hard-to-find Latin American foods and ingredients. Honey Bee's own creations are all superb — the family-recipe chorizo is their best-selling product, the tamales rival any others found in southwest Detroit and the guacamole has no equal. Started in 1956, the third generation of the Alfaro family runs the store, which recently expanded from 4,000 to 15,000 sq. ft.
Best Independent Grocery —Oakland
Best Wine Store —Oakland
1203 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-1414; holiday-market.com
For the perfect bottle with the perfect meal — a takeaway from the prepared sections or your own concoction made with ingredients purchased here — Holiday Market is your place. Make a quick stop and grab sushi for lunch or drive a shopping cart around the scrumptious selections and find just what you need for home entertaining.
Best Independent Grocery — Macomb
27900 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-778-3650; for other locations, see ninosalvaggios.com
The produce is so fresh it practically snaps with crispness. The selection is so big you'll definitely go "off your list" and end up with a few more groceries than you came for. And with everything from soup to nuts, including a really good wine selection, Nino's is perfect for standard family needs, dinner parties and every meal or snack in between.
Best Independent Grocery —Washtenaw
People's Food Co-operative
216 N. Fourth St., Ann Arbor; 734-994-9174; peoplesfood.coop
This is a place where longtime members mix with those who've newly discovered it. And while it's a great source of quality and local food, it's also a place to find a sense of community by running into someone you know or chilling out in the café. The food is almost secondary, you feel so good about what you're buying and eating. And if you don't know what's for dinner that night, go to the co-op and pick what's fresh. Make a meal around that.
Best Liquor Store — Wayne
Best Wine Store — Wayne
Merchant's Fine Wine
22250 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-563-8700
Don't let the relatively austere front fool you, when it comes time to buy that bottle of scotch to impress the boss or soon-to-be father-in-law, Merchant's offers a great selection, efficient service and helpful advice if you need it. Between the variety of unique gourmet products and reputation of helping customers find that hard-to-find bottle, Merchant's has plenty of other goodies to satisfy all palates. And their good taste can become yours.
Best Liquor Store —Oakland
Red Wagon Shoppe
2940 S. Rochester Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-852-9307; 1613 Livernois Rd., Troy; 248-404-9999
Maybe it was Red Wagon's single malt scotch, bourbon and tequila tastings that earned them the readers' admiration, but these two Oakland County stores also are notable for their 1,500 different liquors. Red Wagon specializes in rare scotch, vodka, tequila, rum and bourbon and carries rare and hard-to-find imported spirits and cordials too. And they stock Riedel glassware because drinking the right drink out of the wrong glass just can't happen.
Best Liquor Store —Macomb
Best Wine Store —Macomb
Champane's Wine Cellar & International Marketplace
Champane's offers a dizzying array of wines, liquors and beers, often at discount prices. From obscure vintages to Michigan-made favorites, eager and friendly employees will help you hunt down the perfect bottle. Champane's is known for its excellent prices, as well as the numerous specials it offers. The store also hosts affordable wine and beer tastings, a great way for novice tasters to gain an education.
Best Wine Store —Washtenaw
Morgan and York Fine Wines and Specialty Foods
1928 Packard St., Ann Arbor; 734-662-0798
Stocked with all the best for your wine cellar and pantry, this former party store transformed into a high-end market a few years ago. Don't let the $30-plus a pound cheese scare you away, if that's not in your budget. There's plenty in the more affordable range. But if you're looking for food and drink cared for so it retains its most authentic flavors, Morgan and York will have it. Buying from small producers doesn't help keep the cost down but it does keep the quality up.