Best T-Shirt Shop
15 E. Kirby St., No. 108, Detroit
Remember when every mall in America had a print-your-own-T-shirt shop? Remember how much fun it was to take in your favorite kitty-cat illustration and have someone put it on a shirt that you could proudly wear for your elementary school class picture? You can relive that magical moment again at Goods Detroit, where you can bring in your own design or choose from a selection of pre-made images. The pre-made images can be printed on-site. While you’re waiting for your shirt to be printed, shop around: The store also carries jewelry, art, soaps and other items made by local artists.
Best Place to Get a Hair Cut While Rocking Out
The Chop Shop
2980 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-546-2237
This place really is the shit. The whole room feels like a cross between an auto shop and a ’50s barbershop. Women are welcome, but the feel is one of a man’s man’s place. The owner, Jay, will talk to you about Morrissey for hours, while everything from Elvis to old surf rock will play in the background. All of the staff look like they just stepped off the Rebel Without a Cause set. The prices are reasonable, and the quality is top-notch. If you don’t live in Berkley, it’s worth a drive.
Best Place to Find an Old He-Man Figure That You Used to Have When You Were a Kid but Lost
3277 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-548-7213
There are plenty of comic stores around town, and good ones too, from Wonderworld in Taylor to Detroit Comics in Ferndale and Green Brain in Dearborn. However, none are quite like Time Travelers. The place is appropriately named, because it kinda feels like stepping into the forgotten memories of your 12-year-old self. The shelves are stacked with toys of yesteryear, from He-Man and Transformers to Star Wars and Smurfs. Of course, Time Travelers sells comic books and game cards too, much like any other store of its type. But it is the nostalgic thrift store quality of the place that makes it stand out.
Best Sleaze-Free, Sex-Positive Place to Buy Sex Toys
1527 Washtenaw Rd., Ypsilanti;734-487-9201
More locations at loverslanestore.com
We all know those poorly lit, sleazy adult stores on the seedy side of town. The ones that sell expressionless blow-up dolls and French ticklers. You don’t want to go there. You don’t even own a trench coat! You’re just looking for something to spice up sexy-time with your partner and add a little dimension to solo fun. Lover’s Lane has a friendly staff that offers information and encouragement to people of all genders, orientations and experience levels who want to explore their sexuality. There are testers of lubes and oils available for comparing slipperiness, taste and scents. Toys can be handled, to better evaluate feel and vibration intensity levels. Now there’s something you can’t do on the Internet!
Best Independent Toy Store
Adventures in Toys
250 W. Maple Rd., Birmingham; 248-646-5550
Big store and good selection are not mutually exclusive, and Birmingham’s Adventures in Toys proves that true. Hardly bigger than a breadbox (we are teasing, of course), the store is neatly stocked with toys that are designed to do more than enthrall for the moment. From science, art and engineering-themed gifts for both sexes, the owners’ persnickety demand for intellectual engagement seems to drive what’s for sale. Nary a Bratz doll in sight, the items tend to fall on the higher end of the price scale, but then quality also doesn’t come cheap. The free polka-dot giftwrap is a nice touch too.
Best Place to Play for Robot Nerds and Lego Maniacs
The Robot Garage
637 S. Eton St., Birmingham; 248-723-9100
The idea is one of sheer brilliance: Take one unused warehouse and spruce it up; fill it with all things Lego; hire some great, kind and kid-loving staff; charge premium prices for classes, parties, etc.; rinse, lather and repeat. The owners of this marvel in childhood entertainment offerings, who opened their doors less than 24 months ago in an old warehouse in Birmingham’s “industrial” district, have created a facility no kid can resist. With a top-notch crew who are hands-on and helpful, the premium charged to attend a class, camp or workshop does not come cheap. The venue is also a great place for birthday parties. The combination of robotics, Legos and education, all packaged in a low-key atmosphere make this the go-to place for us. (BG)
Best Indie Grocer in Hamtramck
Al-Haramain International Foods
3306 Caniff St., Hamtramck; 313-870-9748
Hamtramck has no shortage of small corner grocery stores but Al-Haramain is the best of them. The staff is friendly and if you shop there enough, they’ll remember you by name and let you know when your favorite fruit is first in-season and back in stock. Every square inch of the place is packed with fresh produce, candy from around the globe, bread, bulk spices, nuts, and olives, halal meats, and that one thing you didn’t know you needed until you found it. Best of all are the reasonable prices. Why does this ethnic market offer excellent produce at reasonable prices? It’s because Al-Haramain’s Yemeni customers demand high quality and low prices — and that’s a deal we all get to share in.
Best Retail Rebirth
DeVries & Co.
2468 Market St., Detroit; 313-831-2020
Longtime patrons of Detroit’s Eastern Market got a good scare last year with the announcement that the venerable R. Hirt Jr. company, founded in 1887 and run by four generations of the same family, was closing its doors. As it turned out, fortunately for fans of the vendor of specialty goods, the store was actually closing for a mild renovation, passing back into the hands of another Hirt descendant, the man who ran it until recently, David DeVries. The renovations were complete last May, and shoppers can now find the same specialty products in an even finer-looking space than previously. The floors shine and a bit of order has been added to the checkout process, with two registers to check out patrons at the end of their shopping experience. Congratulations to DeVries for giving us a slightly updated version of an ancient Detroit classic.
Best Place to Buy Sausage Supplies
3317 Caniff St., Hamtramck
Where does one go when in need of hog casings, fatback, pork butt and any of the other ingredients needed for sausage making? You’re not going to find hog casing at the local big box store. Our favorite place to get all things hog is Bozek’s Market in Hamtramck. White smocked butchers are on hand to help you out with all your sausage making questions. This market has so much meat it gets its own chilled room, which presents an alternate reason for visiting in the middle of the broiling summer heat.
Best Place for Late-Night Shopping
See meijer.comfor scads of locations
Maybe everybody else has become inured to this, but … isn’t it just kind of amazing that you can charge into a Meijer at 1 in the morning, maybe in an altered state, and just start loading up a cart with 5-mil black plastic bags, a pick and a spade? Or with a few cases of beer, several gallons of whiskey, and a couple of boxes of shotgun shells? And that the checkout lady won’t even look at you sideways? Are we the only ones amazed by this? God. Bless. America.
Best Print Shop and Skate Shop in One Convenient Location
10229 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck
Do you have a hankering for a skateboard and a need to get something screen-printed? How will you ever have time to do both? Head over to Chiips. When the Chiips folks moved their skate shop from Plymouth to Hamtramck in late 2012, they moved their sister business, the Barber Shoppe Screen Printing, into the back of the 2,700-square-foot space, with enough room leftover for a half-pipe, so you can test out your new board right in the store.
Best Place to Find Unusual Detroit Records
2610 Carpenter St., Hamtramck; 313-870-9647
How things have changed! You may think you knew the Record Graveyard back when it was on Caniff Street in downtown Hamtramck, but now that it has moved to the northern fringe of town, it’s much changed and, frankly, for the better. The selection is better organized, and, best of all, the 45 RPM singles with Detroit origins have been sifted out. We’ve been thrilled to paw through the collections of Detroit rock, soul and, especially, gospel, buying original records featuring the Lemon Singers, even nameless recordings from storefront churches. Honcho Jeff Garbus deserves many thanks for running what has become, more than a shop, an important local historical resource.
Best Gift Shop for Browsing
621 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak
Sometimes “eclectic shopping experience” is a euphemism for rummaging through barely sorted stuff dumped onto shelves without care. Not at Shine. The various and sundry items are in balance on adjacent shelves, with no cognitive dissonance. The mix at Shine can include high-end candles, beauty products, stylish housewares, swanky jewelry — even retro pajamas. It’s one of the few places that makes shopping for gifts easy and enjoyable, and the kind staff is more than happy to help you find the perfect gift, pricey or humble. This is one store where the online experience simply can’t measure up to visiting in the flesh.
Best Indie Men’s Clothing in Wayne County
5708 Woodward Ave., Detroit
For nearly 25 years, this Midtown staple and perennial winner has supplied threads to Detroit’s musicians, performers, entertainers and the scenesters who follow in their wake. But it’s not all leather and lace — although there’s plenty of that, the store’s racks also come stocked with fashions suitable for any style other than run-of-the-mill. Owner Dan Tatarian is a fierce champion of all things local, from bands to stores, and advocated for shoppers to avoid chains long before that mantra became trendy. Stop into the store and he’ll be more than willing to help outfit you in an eye-popping getup while supplying entertaining banter free o’ charge.
Best Indie Men’s Clothing in Oakland County
Best Indie Women’s Clothing in Oakland County
323 S. Main St., Royal Oak
Another MT readers’ fave, Incognito provides rock-inspired wear for the fearless trendsetter. Even if the less daring fashionistas choose to avoid leopard-print, body-hugging jeans, there are still plenty of stylish pieces to choose from. Incognito also offers an extensive selection of eyewear, as well as an entire separate room devoted to footwear, featuring the latest drool-worthy styles in stilettos, pumps, sandals, boots, flats, etc. It’s so beautiful you’ll want to cry, then max out your credit cards.
Best Indie Men’s Clothing in Macomb County
The Road Show
28500 Gratiot Ave., Roseville
If a store could be diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder, the Road Show would take first in that category too. A panoply of “taste” awaits those entering this eastside institution. From hippie chic to skater rad, the cache of ponchos, tie dyes and hipster T-shirts is a find; the eclectic crap that accompanies it gives the store a Sybil-like charm. Analysis: The Road Show is like a really big head shop.
Best Indie Men’s Clothing in Washtenaw County
113 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
A store where edge, pseudo-prep and “street cred” triangulate, Puffer Red’s can outfit you for the club … any club: squash, dance or after hours. A must-go for anyone looking to be cast in a hip-hop video or fit in with the posse, the brands are nearly all high-end. From Cole Haan to Lacoste, authenticity doesn’t come cheap. However, we hear looking cool pays dividends. As one fan of the store was quoted as saying: “If you want to sport the newest, hottest kicks this side of a music video then [Puffer Red’s] this is your one stop action.”
Best Indie Women’s Clothing in Wayne County
15 E. Kirby, Ste. 110, Detroit
A boutique with a mix of new and upscale consignment attire, vintage clothing and accessories, ranging from 1920s silk lingerie to 1960s mod dresses. The merchandise is suitable for both the sophistication of professionals and is accessible to a student budget. Restored features like the marble floors, mirrored panels, lights, and gold-painted ceiling add to the vintage aesthetic. ‘
Best Indie Women’s Clothing in Macomb County
8789 Hall Rd., Utica; 586-932-2633
At L.A. Tags, you can find T-shirts, button-ups, jackets, jeans and, best of all, bikinis — all the things you need to put together the perfect party outfit. Add some graphics to your wardrobe with the wide range of printed T-shirt designs. The shop carries such well-known brands as Affliction, Rock Revival, Miss Me, Robin’s Jeans, and Superdry from Japan.
Best Indie Women’s Clothing in Washtenaw County
128 & 130 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
A wonderful mix of vintage clothing and new pieces and accessories. It’s easy to put together a rockin’ outfit, complete with jewelry, for a fair price. Find great stuff without having to scour the racks for hours to find a gem. The vintage clothes are only gently used, clean and stylish. Mix has a friendly staff that will help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Best Vintage Clothing Wayne County
10238 Joseph Campau St., Hamtramck;
Leave it to fashionable Hamtramck to house one of the best vintage clothiers in the area. Calling all lovers of the chapeau: This is where you should be going. Hats, hats and more hats. Plus, if you insist that nothing quite sounds as good as vinyl, you’re in luck. In addition to the wide variety of vintage Ts and whatnot, there’s vinyl as far as the eye can see. The staff is friendly, the prices reasonable and the place is clean. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Best Vintage Clothing Oakland County
Lost & Found
510 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak
Every vintage lover should know this downtown Royal Oak shop, which features three levels of one-of-a-kind wearables from every decade of the 20th century. The friendly staff is always willing to help shoppers dig through the racks to locate the perfect ’70s jumpsuit, ’50s housedress or retro Girl Scout uniform (they have them; what you do with them is your business). Prices can be utterly affordable, but be prepared to blow the bank on a must-have couture piece. Lost & Found also boasts a large number of plus-sized offerings, a notable collection of T-shirts and boots and collectible records and accessories.
Best Vintage Clothing Macomb County
Various locations; salarmythrift.com
When in doubt, go for the ganddaddy of vintage resellers. Offering resale clothes back when the clientelle was primarily the poor, the selection at Salvation Army is like panning for gold. You can wade in the water for days and get zilch. Then, the motherlode hits and you are the benficiary of some dowager’s closet-cleaning rampage. So, grab your patience and a friend for some company. There could be an amazing find just ’round the corner. Good luck.
Best Vintage Clothing Washtenaw County
The Get Up
215 S. State St., Ann Arbor;
The Getup is the go-to spot for mid-century fashion freaks. Its vast selection zeroes in on the ’40s through the ’70s, but if go-go boots, bellbottoms and mini-dresses aren’t your thing, pieces from Victorian times up through the ’80s can be plucked from the store’s bursting racks. The owner’s keen eye is evidenced by the stock of immaculately maintained, premium-quality garments. Affordable prices, frequent sales, a continually updated inventory, and an incredibly knowledgeable and friendly staff all add to The Get Up’s perpetual appeal.
Best Place to Buy Jeans
166 W. Maple Rd., Birmingham
If you are looking for a store that stocks a better selection of high-end jeans than Caruso Caruso, let us know when you find it. In truth, there are too many brands they carry to list here, but we dare you to ask for one they don’t carry (and Wrangler or Jordash don’t count). In addition, the T-shirt, tank, bathing suit and select tops here are all Grade-A. Make sure you pay your mortgage before you visit, because looking hot isn’t for the frugal.
Best Place to Buy Shoes
Find locations at dsw.com
A vast expanse of tantalizing designer footwear at reduced prices makes DSW an obvious stop for shoe lovers. Whether you’re searching out the perfect pair of strappy heels, the latest summer sandals or even a pair of practical tennis shoes, DSW is bound to have it. The wide selection represents brands as diverse as Reebok, Gucci, Converse and Via Spiga in men’s, women’s and kid’s styles. Check out the discount rack for even better deals on all variety of flashy kicks.
Best Indie Lingerie Shop
265 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-642-2555; harps-lingerie.com
At Harp’s, it’s all about the fit. With 65 years of experience in the lingerie biz, this downtown Birmingham shop can outfit any lady with the lingerie that perfectly holds it up, sucks it in, smoothes it out or turns it on. The store offers a wide variety of fun and functional intimate apparel of the finest European and American brands. Customer service and personal consultations are the hallmarks of Harp’s, ensuring that no customer should ever have to wear an ill-fitting bra again.
Best Eyewear Boutique
160 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-723-1900
308 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-622-8056
More locations at seeeyewear.com
SEE’s concept is inspired in its design and flawless in its execution: Use the best eyewear designers operating in Europe, seek out obscure gems and talented up-and-comers, relentlessly review prototypes and reject anything that’s too pedestrian and stock shops with the most exciting frames, made exclusively for SEE. The result? Stores full of truly one-of-a-kind glasses that are chic, functional and miraculously affordable.
Best Adult Novelty Shop
Locations at loverslane.com
124 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak
All over metro Detroit, Lover’s Lane offers more than lingerie: It’s a judgment-free shopping experience, with a friendly staff that offers information and encouragement all those who want to explore sensuality. Same goes for Noir Leather. For more than a quarter-century, Noir Leather has been metro Detroit’s prime purveyor of kink, offering BDSM toys, leather gear, sexy threads, lingerie and almost everything necessary to satisfy any taste.
Best African-American Hair Salon
Textures by Nefertiti
4147 Cass Ave., Detroit
At her Midtown salon, Nefertiti provides a calming refuge from hectic city life, and she views herself as much a “spiritual coach” as a hairstylist. Her focus is on providing natural hair care to men and women, helping clients embrace their inner beauty as much as the natural kink and curl of their hair. This holistic philosophy is evidenced throughout the entire enterprise, which features all-natural, organic products and, along with standard salon services such as massages, facials, nail care, energy balancing and shamanic healing massages.
Best Nail Salon
Best Hair Salon in Macomb County
Skates with Scissors
33190 Groesbeck Highway, Fraser
As the tagline states, Skates with Scissors offers “Swanktastic hair for the rest of us.” The more we thought about it — and Macomb County — things came into relief. Looking to get glammed up with a style that’s maintainable? Look no further, ladies. When you’re there, go for the gusto and get a mani, pedi and other spa offerings.
Best Hair Salon in Wayne County
Curl up and Dye
4215 Cass Ave., Detroit
This full-service salon offers all the amenities guaranteed to make customers look and feel good. While MT readers consistently honor its hair-cutting chops, the salon also offers facials, makeup application, massage and nail services. Along with taming unruly locks, the salon focuses on health and sustainability, making recycling a priority and featuring natural, nontoxic products — including its own in-house skin and hair care line, Cass Corridor Organics — that are never tested on animals. Stylish decor, a relaxed atmosphere and a friendly, talented staff don’t hurt either.
Best Hair Salon in Oakland County
Alex Emilio Salon
409 S. Main St., Royal Oak
There are salons and then there is Alex Emilio. Don’t let the Royal Oak address fool you, this place is upscale and expensive. However, you will most likely get the best haircut of your life at Alex Emilio. In our research, we could not find one person who said their cut was not “amazing.” Another customer fave was the woman who shapes eyebrows. A client, who said she was “broke ass poor,” still paid the money to get her eyebrows shaped because the salon was just that good. Broke-ass poor!
Best Hair Salon in Washtenaw County
333 Maynard St., Ann Arbor;
For other locations, see aveda.edu
When Douglas Weaver opened his first salon in East Lansing in 1967, he had a vision for the kind of business he wanted to build: one that would not only provide superb service and style to clients, but one that would also aid budding stylists on their career paths. That vision is now a reality, with Douglas J Aveda Institutes and salons located throughout the country. The institutes provide nascent hairdressers with the skills they’ll need to go pro while giving the public the chance to receive top-notch salon services at discount rates. Style and service are still paramount at both the schools and the pro salons.
Best Makeup Studio
Rouge Makeup and Nail Studio
23341 Woodward Ave., Ferndale
Don’t expect harsh beauty treatments built around toxic chemicals at Rouge. Instead, pampering comes courtesy of all-natural cosmetics and vegan and organic skincare. After all, it just makes sense that makeovers shouldn’t just make you look good, but also be good for you. And who can say no to sea salt scrubs, organic ginger oil and colorful, chemical-free eye shadows? Someone who doesn’t deserve them, that’s who. Rouge offers services that range from full-on luxury to quick touch-ups. Make-up application lessons and girl’s night-out parties are also available.
Best Tattoo Shop
Lucky Monkey Tattoo
308 S. Ashley St., Ann Arbor
If there were to be an expansion of The Learning Channel’s Inked franchise, our bet is on Lucky Money. The shop’s artists are brands unto themselves, and depending on personality and the particular piece of art you have in mind, there is likely an artist to fit your bill. Of course, getting inked is not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t scrub off after a few days, but that’s the point. (Get it, point!) With clientele ranging from the former Mrs. Eminem to hockey legend Darren McCarty, your various body parts are in good, talented hands.
Best Body-Piercing Shop
230 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale
When the Ferndale City Council finally scrapped outdated zoning that prohibited tattoo shops downtown, it was only a matter of time before one would pop up. Signature, an artist-run venture co-owned by prominent tattoo and underground artist Mark Heggie, opened its doors in October 2010. Heggie noticed that many of his clients from his Utica shop, Big Top Tattoo, traveled from Detroit and nearby suburbs, so it only made sense to open a store that was closer to home for customers. Artists create all of their own designs rather than relying on commercial razzle dazzle, but it’s not the ink that grabbed our readers’ attention. The skill and creativity of the resident needle-wielders get the honors again this year.
Best Jewelry Store
Best Jewelry Repair
Mount N’ Repair
205 Pierce St., Birmingham
Mount N’ Repair in downtown Birmingham is a nice, tidy shop that had a terrific selection of affordable jewelry pieces, including cuff links, necklaces, bracelets and rings. The staff is friendly, knowledgable and the prices are reasonable for the product lines. Pretty, affordable and accessible make this pick one for the masses.
Blumz by JRDesigns
1260 Library St., Detroit; 313-964-5777
503 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale;
Together, the two owners of Blumz have more than 50 years in the floral biz, and it shows: Fresh flowers and bright, artistic arrangements are the staples here. While colorful, creatively displayed blossoms are Blumz’ raison d’être, the shop also holds classes, hosts events, provides free event consultations and offers full-service event planning, assisting brides, birthday boys and other event planners in everything from tux rental to chair linens. The shop is also well-known for its philanthropic and community activity and its dedicated, award-winning staff.
Best Gift Shop in Wayne County
460 W. Canfield St., Detroit
City bird is the brainchild of Detroit’s brother-and-sister power duo, Emily and Andy Linn, who spent years marketing Detroit-themed odds and ends under the City Bird name before opening this physical store. Here you’ll find colorful soaps, plates and glasses emblazoned with a classic Detroit map (sans freeways, natch). It’s a great place to browse for that Detroit-centric gift, and there couldn’t be two cuter emissaries for our fair city than the Linns.
Best Gift Shop in Oakland County
171 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale
Boss lady Kelly Pettibone LaPointe, whose easy-breezy personality is reflected in her store’s eclectic offerings, came up with the name Naka for her store, which means “beautiful” in Shona, a language spoken in Zimbabwe, because her store is just that. Ms. LaPointe studied for a time in the former Rhodesia while in college. Clothing, jewelry, paper and knick-knacks that all make great, unique gifts are her bailiwick. Also, check out her line of Day-Twa items, only found at Naka. (Get it? Day-Twa? … le Détroit.)
Best Gift Shop in Macomb County
23024 Greater Mack, St. Clair Shores
Circare offers unique, handcrafted gifts with an emphasis on local artists. The staff is friendly and accommodating, so much so that more than one customer has expressed the sentiments that staffers act like they are your “personal shopper.” Eclectic, intricate and unique items give shoppers an opportunity to find gifts that really are one of a kind.
Best Gift Shop in Washtenaw County
122 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
The Rocket specializes in the childhood joys of candy and gag gifts, pairing a huge selection of bulk candy (including such retro favorites as root beer barrels and rock candy) with an assortment of humorous novelty gifts and toys. The themes of pirates, zombies, bacon and mustaches are in abundance, along with vintage and replica tin toys, metal lunchboxes and whimsical kitchen wares. Hey, why not try a unicorn mask or the world’s largest underwear on for size? Shopping is simple at the Rocket — just get your sugar high on and go haywire.
Best Antique Shop
Main Store: 23622 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge 248-546-1555
Warehouse Sales: 3100 Hilton (side door), Ferndale 248-546-6144
“Holy time warp, Batman, it looks like Mad Men exploded in here!” If authenticity is the benchmark for worthy, then Vogue Vintage certainly earns its place as a Best Of pick. From high-end antiques to $2 kitchy crap, the selection of stuff is overwhelming and fun. Keep in mind there are two outlets for Vogue Vintage: the store on Woodward has the good stuff that they want to move and the warehouse in Ferndale, which is the holding tank for the entire gamut of good, bad and ugly. We have yet to hear someone who has gone into the place and not purchased at least one item. The prices are flexible but fair for this genre. The owners are not out to gouge, but they won’t be hoodwinked, either. Sweet-talking may help you score free delivery too.
Best Flea Market
Dixieland Flea Market
2045 Dixie Hwy., Waterford
More than 250 vendors populate Dixieland, a perpetual readers’ fave. A true hodgepodge of merchandise is available for wannabe pickers, including instruments, antiques, collectibles, retro memorabilia, western wear, comics, coins, household goods, clothes — the things you need, and, most likely, the things you don’t but can’t imagine living without. Dixieland is open Fridays through Sundays; check the website for a calendar of upcoming special events.
Best Pawn Shop for Buying
Best Pawn Shop for Selling
20450 Greenfield Rd., Detroit
For the unfamiliar, American Jewelry and Loan, which is nestled in an otherwise unsavory section of northwest Detroit, has the distinction of being a bona fide fan favorite beyond Detroit as the setting for TruTV’s Hardcore Pawn reality show. Run by the Gold family, American Jewelry has the most extensive cache of booty we’ve ever seen in a pawn store. Beyond just guns, gold and one man’s garbage-type trinkets, there are countless display cases with some pretty swanky items; electronics; furniture, and a million other things that have as interesting a history as they are bargain-priced. Don’t be put off by some of the clientele. Security abounds and, frankly, it’s a place you need to visit to appreciate.
Best Comic Book Shop in Wayne County
Green Brain Comics
13210 Michigan Ave., Dearborn
This family-owned shop is a perpetual readers’ pick thanks to its diverse selection of comics including mainstream titles and small-press offerings. And if it’s not in stock, the staff will gladly order it for you — just one example of the shining customer service comic nerds can expect at Green Brain. The store also holds monthly comic jams, creator signings and art exhibits; other perks include a weekly subscription service and a loyalty program rewarding fanboys and girls for their continuing patronage.
Best Comic Book Shop in Oakland County
23333 Woodward Ave., Ferndale
Comic book aficionados are a proprietary breed and can sniff out a hack like a bloodhound. Thankfully, the staff at Detroit Comics are the real deal. Knowledge about the seemingly most random aspects of comic lore make this establishment a fan fave. Plus, the clean retail space, good lighting and user-friendly layout gives Detroit Comics the serious presentation that a store dealing in art should have.
Best Comic Book Shop in Macomb County
32032 Utica Rd., Fraser; 586-296-2758
861 E. Auburn Rd., Rochester;
This veteran eastside shop has been supplying the funny book faithful for nearly 30 years. Comix Corner is truly all about the comics — no toys or action figures here — with an established following of devoted customers who praise the shop’s selection, great service and primo deals on rare, vintage and new books. The shop rewards these loyal shoppers with the Collectors’ Club, a monthly subscription service that offers members 25 percent off their must-have reads.
Best Comic Book Shop in Washtenaw County
Vault of Midnight
219 S. Main St., Ann Arbor
For more than 15 years, this downtown Ann Arbor shop has served as a one-stop shopping destination for geeks of all varieties. Not only does it carry a large selection of graphic novels and comics, from decades-old rarities to the latest mainstream titles and hard-to-find small-press issues, but it also stocks a vast supply of board games, vinyl toys, action figures and other assorted fun stuff. VoM hosts art exhibits, musical performances and other events, and is the only shop in the state that’s been awarded the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, which honors one indie shop per year for supporting its community and the comic industry.
Best Indie Bookstore in Detroit
John K. King Used and Rare Books
901 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit
As the market for e-readers expands, a place such as John King’s becomes even more hallowed. But to be fair, King’s has always been rather singular — four floors of a former glove factory are filled with nearly one million books, quietly exuding the power and possibility of the written word into the still, spacious rooms. It’s the kind of soul you can’t find by staring at a screen, although King’s vast catalog of rare and collectible books can be searched using an online database.
Best Indie Bookstore in the Suburbs
26010 Greenfield Rd., Oak Park
Many of you may not remember what a bookstore looked like before mega retailers came on the scene. There were no Starbucks kiosks, kids play areas or rows of overstuffed couches for lounging. In fact, the overstuffing was generally just the sheer amount of books crammed into any and every spot available. Yet after years of attrition, a few worthy independent retailers are able to survive. Book Beat, located in the Lincoln Plaza shopping plaza, is the gem in our backyard. Piled high with books on every conceivable subject and organized in a way that only its employees understand (sometimes), this shop is a throwback to the days when a storeowner knew her customers. Its proprietor, the bookish-looking Colleen, has virtually memorized her inventory and has a card catalog-like ability to spit out suggestions based upon a browser’s request. The store’s staffers are quintessential bibliophiles who make you appreciate there are still those who love actual, printed books.
Best Indie Record Store in Wayne County
4100 Woodward Ave., Detroit
“Flat out the best record store in the world,” is the buzz that surrounds People’s Records. For vinyl fans, a sometimes persnickety lot, that is quite an endorsement. Already a well-established brand in the city, the recent move to Midtown, its second location, was earlier preceded by a fire at its former home in the Forest Arms. If there are any complaints, they are all based on a comparison between its former and current home. And, you have to take that grumble with a grain of salt because people hate change; which is evidenced by the number of people who still think vinyl is the best sound – ever!
Best Indie Record Store in Oakland County
UHF, Royal Oak
512 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak
Although it hasn’t even been around for three years, UHF already ranks as one of the best record shops in metro Detroit (and not just ‘cause our readers say so). The store sells quality new and used vinyl, including pristine rarities and an ample local section. Dollar bins, used CDs and DVDs, hip merchandise and frequent in-store performances courtesy of local acts round out UHF’s irresistible cool.
Best Indie Record Store in Macomb County
36 New St., Mount Clemens
A relative newcomer, Weirdsville (or, as we like to call it, a euphemism for Macomb County) threw open its doors back in 2011. Owener Davey Taylor, who’s been a collector of the offbeat since childhood, at first was supplying his wife and best friend with merchadise for their business, which offered specialty items for use by production companies, etc. Then, according to Taylor’s website, his wife opened a used bookshop, Used on New Books & More … he’s the “& More.” With a substantive selection of vinyl, too, he’s clearly become a fan fave.
Best Indie Record Store in Washtenaw County
417 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor
Two summers ago, two employees purchased Encore from its longtime owner Peter Dale. Besides tweaking the name — Encore Recordings is now Encore Records — the new owners haven’t changed the place much, to the relief of music lovers everywhere. The shop still features floor-to-ceiling shelves chock-full of new and used vinyl and CDs, including rare gems and a large number of jazz and classical titles. The store’s large collection of music-related books, posters, handbills and other paper ephemera also remains intact.
Best Store for Musical Instruments
For locations, see guitarcenter.com
This frequent readers’ pick offers all the latest gear by the biggest names, as well as a mammoth used selection and online access to the rare and valuable guitars of vintage collections located in Nashville, New York and Hollywood. Shoppers can get merchandise for a steal thanks to clearances on already competitive prices. Expert and experienced staff, repair services, online shopping with free shipping, contests and other events just sweeten the deals.
Best Store for DJ Equipment
Pro Audio and Lighting
2400 E. 14 Mile Rd., Warren
No doubt that readers got this pick right. Pro Audio is too legit to quit. If you have the slightest inkling of starting a discotheque in your basement, this is where you’re gonna get your hook-ups. From strobes, globes, foggers and every conceivable thing you’ll need for your very own Carnegie Hall (except the endowment), Pro Audio has it. Seriously, this place is pretty wicked cool.
Best Skate Shop
Best Skate Park
Modern Skate Park
29862 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak;
1500 N. Stephenson Hwy., Royal Oak;
For more than 30 years, Modern has been providing metro Detroiters with everything they need to skate or board by land or by sea. They’ve got all the essentials, from skates and skateboards to snowboards and wakeboards, plus all the clothing, accessories and protective gear needed to complete the getup. Along with its retail locations, Modern also boasts a skate park at its Stephenson Highway location, which features walk-in clinics, private lessons, inline skate sessions and bike sessions. Become a member to receive discounted rates at the park, and sign up for the newsletter to stay hip to upcoming events.
Best Bicycle Shop in Detroit
3611 Cass Ave., Detroit
An annual Best Of winner, this Cass Corridor shop sells refurbished bikes and provides repair services on the cheap in order to promote its three-pronged mission: youth development, sustainable practices and community access. To that end, the Hub and the nonprofit arm that it supports, Back Alley Bikes, offers youth and adult mechanics classes, volunteer opportunities, a youth Earn-A-Bike program and community rides. The shop also works with other local bike projects to recycle old bikes and bike parts — be on the lookout for their bike racks crafted from retired bike frames at spots around Detroit. Check the website for weekly updates regarding classes, youth programs and other community news.
Best Bicycle Shop in the Suburbs
Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop
163 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale
For bicycle enthusiasts, and not just the ones who have a mountain bike for its wow factor, but those who know when to use 27 different gears, Jon Hughes’ Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop is the Troy Motor Mall of bikes. Brands carried include GT Cali, Jamis FLA, Torker Cycles, Redline, Nirve Cruisers and Sun Cycles. None is your mama’s Schwinn! But, before you think it may be too much for the novice, the expertise Hughes and his staff offer clients is as much for the weekend warrior as the next off-road wunderkind.
Best Place for Audio Gear
Locations vary; bestbuy.com
With its distinctive acute-angled frontage and those Royal blue polos, Best Buy has spent big money establishing its brand. After years spent expanding its presence, and finally winning the turf war with now-deceased competitor Circuit City, the encroachment of online retailing may be the only thing that could topple this electronic giant. Great selection and always well stocked, Best Buy has the largest selection of mainstream audio equipment all under one roof.
Best Place for Car Audio Gear
Various locations; cartunesstereo.com
Detroit’s “car stereo and mobile entertainment experts,” is how Car Tunes positions itself and, happily, the readers agreed. Because we are the Motor City, among the countless advantages is Car Tunes’ ability to directly communicate with those Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers who make the audio and video equipment, thus ensuring its products will integrate without complication. Keeping up with an evolving industry. Car Tunes’ technicians pride themselves on a combonation of exceptional work, and stellar customer service.
Best Place to Buy a Car
My, how times are a changin … We are in Detroit, right? Readers, you have spoken and proclaimed Craigslist.org the best place to buy a car. Pardon us for a moment: HELLO, LOCAL DEALERSHIPS … time to WAKE UP! Mind you, we see the appeal: no slimy car salesmen; dynamic search capabilities; and direct buyer-seller communication. While the traditional dealer network structure likely has little to fear, this should certainly be a wake-up call to them.
Best Indie Hardware Store in Detroit
Busy Bee Hardware
1401 Gratiot Ave., Detroit;
6432 Woodward Ave., Detroit;
Since 1918, Busy Bee has been the go-to hardware shop for Detroiters and Saturday morning Eastern Market shoppers. And New Center’s small but densely packed Detroit Hardware even offers the convenience of a few parking spots in the back.
Best Indie Hardware Store in the Suburbs
Frentz and Sons
1010 N. Main St., Royal Oak
This repeat winner also nails the old-school charm of the hardware stores of yore, retaining the same friendly service and down-to-earth know-how that the store was founded with in 1925. Now run by the third generation of the Frentz family, the shop offers all the basic hardware store stock along with an extensive supply of difficult-to-find parts. Frentz’s specialties include lock re-keying, window and screen repair, cutting pipe and most importantly, the expertise to help customers accomplish the oddest of odd jobs. And if they can’t help you get the project done, the three Frentz brothers will make sure to send you to the place that can.
Best Place to Buy a Mattress
Find locations at artvan.com
Art Van Furniture caters to your mattress needs, whether you’re looking for a custom-made adjustable bed or a different comfort level made especially for your finicky partner’s side of the bed. They offer name brands at great prices, and they’ll ship the mattress out to you the next day for free so you won’t have to wait long to finally get a good night’s sleep.
Best Indie Grocery Store in Wayne County
Honey Bee I La Colemena
2443 Bagley Ave., Detroit; 313-237-0295; honeybeemkt.com
This southwest Detroit market keeps Detroiters happily stuffed with its wide selection of fresh produce, quality meats, hot prepared foods and plentifully stocked shelves. It has all the basics of good grocers down pat — clean, bright, well-organized — but comes in heads and shoulders above the rest thanks to its large selection of Latin American specialty products and its own in-house edibles. We dare you not to fall in love with Honey Bee’s salsa, pico, chips and guac — which ranks as the best in town, in our humble opinion.
Best Indie Grocery Store,
Best Beer Selection in a Store, Best Wine Selection in a Store in Oakland County
1203 S. Main St., Royal Oak
Holiday has hit the trifecta! The folks at Holiday Market have expanded from the snug neighborhood butcher shop they opened in the 1950s to the 60,000-square-foot market we know today, but the same foundation of quality and service remain. Clean, helpful and, whether by magic or otherwise, there is hardly ever a long wait at checkout. An amazing seafood department, a gourmet pastry and bakery shop, as well as a world-class cooking and catering facility on the second floor makes even the snootiest shopper stop and stare. Of course, some items are a wee bit pricier than some chain stores, but by and large Holiday remains competitive. As well, even if you’re a seasoned beer-lover or just looking to upgrade your taste in brews, you’ll enjoy looking through Holiday Market’s selection of imported, domestic and microbrews ⎯ many of which are available in both bottle and keg. They have a fantastic liquor selection as well as a tremendous offering of fine and moderately priced wines. As wine is a tricky thing to discuss with authority, the staff is well trained on the subject, thus lending some credence to their sugestions.
Best Indie Grocery Store in Macomb County
27900 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-778-3650; see ninosalvaggio.comfor more locations
Nino Salvaggio’s roots as a fruit and vegetable market shine through in the delectable produce on display, but this gourmet grocery now offers so much more than just apples and tomatoes. Hundreds of cheeses, more than 1,600 Michigan-made products, a vast array of organic goods, an extensive wine selection, hard-to-find craft beers, fresh lobster, hundreds of gluten-free foods and gourmet meals prepared in-store are all available at the market’s multiple locations. It also offers gift baskets, party planning services and online recipes and cooking guides.
Best Indie Grocery Store in Washtenaw County
People’s Food Co-op
216 N. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor
In a city like Ann Arbor, you would expect nothing less than a convergence of good, locally grown organic food and the collective social conscience. People’s Food Co-op, naturally (pun alert), fits the bill. Founded more than 40 years ago, the evolution of an idea for collective growing and trading has become the county’s most popular indie grocery store, with an abundance of locally grown produce and other food items. While you may have to seek out a different venue for the Coco Puffs, anything from God’s unadulterated line of products that can be grown locally and is in season will be at your fingertips.
Best Indie Health Food Store
Natural Food Patch
221 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-546-5908; naturalfoodpatch.com
According to Natural Food Patch of Ferndale owner Joel Fisher, being healthy isn’t just for the wealthy. Natural Food Patch gets fresh organic produce every other day — it’s the same organic fare you see at larger chains like Whole Foods, but without the fancy displays and hefty price tags. Their knowledgeable staff will help you find the perfect vitamins and supplements for your particular needs and sell them to you at a fraction of the price of other, fancy vitamin shops. Our readers love that this friendly, one-stop shop carries health and beauty aids, dog food and frozen treats like soy and rice ice cream alongside its produce and vitamins.
Best Farmers' Market in Wayne County
Between Russell and Riopelle streets, and Gratiot and Mack avenues, Detroit; 313-833-9300; detroiteasternmarket.com; open Tuesdays and Saturdays
The 172-year-old market has been at its present location since 1891 — smack in the middle of a bustling 43-acre area that’s home to wholesalers, retailers and the prominent sales sheds. Re-energized by the Eastern Market Corporation, established in 2007, the market has seen significant renovations and improvements. As the corporation’s head Dan Carmody points out, the market is a unique survivor: “It’s the last of a kind of local food district that every city had that was significantly built before 1950.”
Best Farmers' Market in Oakland County
316 E. 11 Mile Rd., Royal Oak; 248-246-3276; ci.royal-oak.mi.us; open Fridays May through Christmas, Saturdays year-round
The Royal Oak Farmer’s Market has existed since the 1920s, but with rising interest in farm-fresh food, the market has only grown in importance and popularity in recent years. The enclosed building, ample parking and Sunday flea markets don’t hurt either.
Best Farmers' Market in Macomb County
Warren Farmers’ Market
City Square, Warren
It’s hard to ever go wrong with a visit to any farmers’ market, but some are better than others. In this case, Macomb County voters got it right with the selection of Warren Farmers’ Market as the county’s best. Just the right size, with a suitable number of vendors, many of whom have grown or created their offerings, it’s time well spent.
Best Farmers' Market in Washtenaw County
315 Detroit, St., Ann Arbor; 734-794-6255; a2gov.org/market; open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday, May-December; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays, January-April; open 4-8 p.m. Wednesdays June-October; no dogs allowed
Kerrytown’s Farmer’s Market is loaded with fresh and voluptuous fruits and veggies, but also delicious sweet treats, such as sweet potato pecan pies or creations from Ann Arbor-based baker Miette. The market serves at the moment as a base for more than 100 producers of fine foods.
Best Beer Selection in a Store in Wayne County
Merchant’s Fine Wine
22250 Michigan Ave., Dearborn;
Founded in 1994, Merchant’s Fine Wine is the place to go for all your fermented needs. They boast an impressive selection of beer; just ask Merchant’s Certified Cicerone for advice on selecting, acquiring, storing and serving today’s wide range of beers. Once you’ve selected the perfect beer, have the gracious and informed staff suggest a dynamic cheese or rich chocolate from their gourmet foods section to pair it with — you won’t be disappointed.
Best Beer Selection in a Store, Best Wine Selection in a Store in Macomb County
Champane’s Wine Cellars
7007 Chicago Rd., Warren
Champane’s describes its knowledgeable staff as “partly clairvoyant,” able to discern what a shopper desires with just a few efficient questions. It’s a trait no doubt appreciated by customers overwhelmed by the store’s massive selection of Michigan-made brews and little-known craft beers. For the lover of grapes, the countless offerings will help complement any meal, or ensure the cocktail hour is well thought of. And that’s not even mentioning the huge liquor selection, competitive prices, rotating specials and frequent beer tastings.
Best Beer Selection in a Store in Washtenaw County
114 E. William St., Ann Arbor
The Beer Depot is a beer geek’s paradise, featuring more than 750 kinds of the frothy beverage. Whether you prefer stouts, lagers, IPAs or just want to search out new and unusual brews, the Depot is bound to have something that will satisfy your thirst. In business since 1941, the store also sells more than 750 wines and home brewing supplies. The perpetually sober crowd should stop by to check out the store’s historic building, which was built in 1875 as a private residence.
Best Wine Selection in a Store in Wayne County
Merchants Fine Wine
22250 Michigan Ave., Dearborn
“The most amazing selection of booze I’ve seen in Michigan to date …”; and the survey says: ding, ding, ding! (Cue, Richard Dawson.) There are a few things people take very seriously, and the quality of the liquor store they frequent is one of them. There is no doubt that of all the outlets to purchase beer, wine and spirits in the expanse of Wayne County, Merchants is, as the French say, the crème de la crème.
Best Wine Selection in a Store in Washtenaw County
A & L Wine Castle
2424 W. Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor
What would a college town be without a stellar liquor shop? (Probably a school in Indiana!) A & L Wine Castle, with its distinctive medieval construction, is home to the wine selection Lord of Washtenaw County. A dizzying array of imported and domestic varieties of wine make it the favorite of both the serfs and landed gentry. Instead of our puffery, we’ll let one patron sum it up: “I went to A&L and not only did they have [the requested selection], it was one of those situations where it was right there on the shelf, and the guy went and got it for me straight-away as if to say ‘Of course, we have it. We’re A&L.’”
Best Tobacco Smoke Shop
24545 W. 12 Mile Rd., Southfield;
6635 Orchard Lake Rd.,
As Churchill’s demonstrates, not all smoke shops are created equal. Of course, grabbing a pack of smokes or a flavored cigarillo (for what, we won’t speculate) can be achieved at your corner gas station, but for an extensive selection of imported tobacco and cigars, Churchill’s is your destination headquarters. The selection of European, Canadian and domestic cigarette brands is unbeatable; and the cigar selection is the most extensive in Detroit. It is also one of the few places you can actually light up without getting a dirty look.
Best Head Shop
B.D.T. Smoke Shop
21640 John R Rd., Hazel Park; 248-542-6110; for more locations, see buzzbdt.com
Another perennial winner, B.D.T. has served metro Detroit’s discerning smokers and tokers since 1973. The shop’s staying power, with four locations to meet your inhaling needs, speaks not just to the power of pot, but also to the potency of B.D.T. itself. The seasoned and friendly staff will help you navigate the dizzying selection of pipes, bowls, vaporizers, papers, grinders and other accessories, including high-quality items and locally made goods.
Best Grow Shop
The Cultivation Station
2518 Market St., Detroit
313-394-0441; more locations at
Cultivation Station provides a variety of indoor and outdoor gardening supplies perfectly suited for whatever strain of green you’re cultivating. The staff is more than willing to bring its expertise to bear on helping both green-thumbed gardeners and growing amateurs set up their very own custom hydro system. The staff will recommend everything from the best techniques and the correct lights to the proper growing accessories and the best nutrients and supplements — everything to ensure that your harvest is top-notch.
615 Griswold St., Ste. 719, Detroit
Principal of his eponymous law firm, Dezsi is a former associate of Detroit heavyweight Geoffrey Fieger, and is best known for his criminal defense work. His website does list several other areas of practice, including: Appeals, litigation, civil rights, personal injury, employment discrimination, Qui Tam and more. In addition to passing the Michigan state bar exam, Dezsi has been admitted to the bars of New Mexico and California; he is also admitted to practice in the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 5th-10th circuits.
Best New Indie Store
4240 Cass Ave., Detroit
If Don Draper lived in Detroit, we’re guessing he’d shop at Hugh. Filled with items that reflect the classic, masculine style of the mid-century bachelor pad. They sell the glasses you need for your swanky martini. The place even smells manly, like aftershave and cocoa.
Best Michigan-Made Product
In the ongoing knockdown, drag-out fight between Michigan monoliths Better Made and Faygo, the potato chip takes the crown this year. A local snack staple since 1930, any party store, grocery store, bar, gas station, barbecue or picnic worth its salt (pun intended) must feature this iconic Michigan brand. Whether you prefer kettle-cooked, barbecue, sour cream and vinegar or the classic original, Better Made is pure potato chip perfection.