2005 Goods & Services Readers' Choices

Readers' Picks

Best Area Hotel

The Grove Hotel

No big surprise here. Smack dab in the middle of downtown Boise sits this grand hotel/venue that encircles the Bank of America Centre. With sports events like hockey and boxing and big shows like the recent Styx/REO Speedwagon concert, staying at the Grove Hotel can be especially fun because you can get a room that overlooks the events. And as if that isn't enough, the hotel boasts one of the swankiest in-house bars in town and rooms that, if you aren't into watching aging rock stars perform, allow for a beautiful view of downtown Boise. Oh, and the rooms. The rooms border on luxurious and the Grove also sports several spacious suites if you are planning on entertaining guests. With concierge service, room service, a business center offering computers, fax service, e-mail and Internet service and live technical support, all of your needs (and wants) will be met. Whether in town for a meeting, looking for the perfect place to stash out-of-town guests or just looking for a hideaway in which to spend a decadent weekend with the one you love, a stay at the Grove Hotel promises to be one you won't soon forget--in a good way.

245 S. Capitol Blvd., 472-3365

Second Place: Anniversary Inn

Third Place: The Owyhee Hotel

Best Car Wash

The Metro Express Car Wash

Any car wash is a good car wash. Getting your car washed is a good thing. But getting your car washed in a giant brick building with a giant neon sign and a reader board that makes you sing the "Car Wash" theme song every time you drive by is a great thing. A mostly self-serve auto cleaner, The Metro Express Car Wash is like an adventure with a special, special treat at the end. For a mere fin, you drive in, the giant belts pulling you through slowly while sudsy brushes scrub your ride clean. Big jets of water shoot the soap off your car, rinsing it to a wet, shiny gloss. Pull out of the wash station and up to one of the giant vacuum systems. They have hoses on both sides (why the hell didn't someone think of that before?) to make it easy to get the driver and passenger sides clean. So, you check to see if you have enough in quarters to at least get most of the dog hair out of the back seat. Wait! You don't need quarters ... the vacuum is free. Oh, yeah, free. And, for as long as you want. If it takes three hours to get all the pennies, french fries, dog hair, ATM withdrawal receipts, gum wrappers, empty matchbooks and cigarette butts (How did those get in there? You don't even smoke.) out of the carpet on the floor of your car, then so be it. Take all the time you want. Ahhhhh. What a treat.

1300 W. Front St., 331-1301

Second Place: Like Nu on State Street

Third Place: The Torch's Annual Bikini Wash

Best Creative/Art Supply Store

Boise Blue Art Supply

Need to appease your inner artist and you've run out of charcoal pencils, acrylics or clay? Then wipe off your paint stained hands and get over to Boise Blue Art Supply and stock up on goodies. They have everything you'll ever need (and some things you didn't even know you needed) to create your masterpiece. But what if you aren't trying to be creative and you just need to find something to keep the ankle-biters busy? Well, they've got that, too. Shelves and shelves full of art projects, games, different shapes and sizes of paper, hundreds of pens, pencils and crayons for the kiddies. Maybe you aren't creative, but wish you were. Just walking in to this downtown landmark will get those artsy juices flowing. A sketch pad, a brick of Sculpey or a tube of thalo blue paint later and you could be the next M.C. Escher, Rodin or Picasso. If you're more creative than you realized, just keep on creating and you'll have homemade crafts to give as holiday gifts this year. (FYI: BBAS also has an extensive selection of really cool mechanical pencils and employees who will dish out the latest advances in pencil technology.)

820 W. Jefferson St., 343-2564

Second Place: Quality Art

Third Place: Michael's

Best Downtown Store

The Record Exchange

The Record Exchange can steal an afternoon away from you with its vast array of CDs, vinyl, DVDs, T-shirts, posters, action figures, postcards and various other music related accoutrements. The Record Exchange offers listening stations with the latest, record release parties and one of their coolest new features: live in-store performances! Some of the hippest music around has been heard live and in person amidst the used CDs and records. There's another little-known secret (well, it was) treasure that you can get at the RX ... lunchboxes. But not just any lunchboxes. No soft-sided plastic containers these. They are the old-school metal, come with a variety of your favorite bands and characters (the B-Sharps, the Misfits and more) and, here's the exciting part ... you might want to sit down ... ready? What fun is taking your lunch to work/school/the gym/on a date if you can't bring along soup, milk or some other liquid fortification. Speaking of liquid fortification, if the music shopping has drained your energy, you can perk up next-door at The Edge with Purple Bean coffee drinks, and more silly, fantastical accoutrements to tickle your fancy.

1105 W. Idaho St., 344-8010

Second Place: Kandor

Third Place: Dragonfly

Best Local Clothing Store

Dragonfly

If you are looking for a hip new outfit to impress a possible love interest, a new skirt to wear to school or even a unique outfit for a soiree, Dragonfly's clothing racks are the place to browse. Beautiful sweaters, blouses and some of the prettiest dresses you'll ever see are just some of the apparel items available. They also boast some of the coziest hats, scarves and mittens in some of the softest, most luxurious materials around. But the perfect outfit is nothing without the perfect accessories. Dragonfly's selection of jewelry is not easily rivaled and there's something for everyone, or just for every side of yourself: the business person, the hippie, the social butterfly, the child, the mother, the lover and more. And me, oh my, the handbags are to die for. With great brands like Yans NY and fab styles like the Chinese take-out box made popular on Sex and the City, you can find a purse to fit any mood.

414 W. Main St., 338-9234

Second Place: LUX Fashion Lounge

Third Place: Barbara & Barbara

Best Naughty Store

Pleasure Boutique

Dildos, condoms and lingerie, oh my! If you want some toys to spice up your sex life, need something sexy to wear for a clandestine tryst or it's just time to stock up on supplies for your usual Wednesday night flogging, Pleasure Boutique is the store with that and more. The friendly folks at Boise's favorite naughty store are discreet and helpful so whether you are looking to experiment or know exactly what you need, they can help.

5022 W. Fairview Ave., 433-1161

Second Place: Discreet Secrets

Third Place: Rubber Rainbow

Best Resale Clothing

LUX Fashion Lounge

Readers are right ... LUX is the best place to buy gently used, fashionable clothes. It's also a great place to shop for hip new items, too. With two locations (one on Idaho Street and one on Fairview), LUX Fashion Lounge offers clothing and accessories for the most discerning shopper. Items range from vintage logo Tees to brand new jeans to some of the coolest shoes--things you'd have to buy sight-unseen on eBay--at reasonable prices. And everything isn't a size two. While they do have clothes to dress the uber thin emo set, we've found some pretty nifty threads that fit even those of us who are no longer young or tiny but still like to look mah-velous.

785 W. Idaho St., 344-4589

Second Place: Savers

Third Place: Idaho Youth Ranch

Best Shoes

Dillard's

Our readers sure have good taste in shoes. Year after year--including this one--you choose Dillard's as the best place to get your kicks. Whatever your lifestyle, your shoes say a lot about you, so whether it's heels, flats, slip-ons, boots or snaps, the shoes at Dillard's will help you send just the right message.

430 N. Milwaukee St., 321-4646

TIE-Famous Footwear and REI

Third Place: Payless Shoes

Best Smokeshop

Hannifin's Cigar Shop

Hannifin's is a bastion of downtown Boise. With smokeshops popping up on every corner, we've lost the sense of what a smokeshop should look like. Touting magazines, cigars and cigarettes, Hannifin's looks exactly like a smokeshop should: A huge glass door opens onto creaky wood floors, dirty windows plastered with flyers and an old, scarred counter. Man, that place is beautiful.

1024 W. Main St., 342-7473

Best Thrift Store

Idaho Youth Ranch Thrift Store

To be a true citizen, you need to buy used items. Spend a little time and very little money in an IYR and come away with everything you'll need to live the good life. Plus, the Youth Ranch does great things for teens and others in need and uses the money from its thrift stores to support those endeavors.

1417 W. Main St., 343-2506

Second Place: Savers

Third Place: St. Vincent De Paul's

Best local Book Store

The Book & Game Co.

We decided not to take nominations for the big chain bookstores, preferring to shed a little light on our independent bookstores. The winner this year is local, downtown and they have a great selection of titles, both best-selling and regional. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly. The store hosts frequent book signings that have not only placed a much-appreciated spotlight on the works of local writers, but let the public know the stuff is out there. Plus, where else can you score hard-to-find board games like Super Scrabble around here?

906 W. Main St., 344-8088

Second Place: Vista Books

Third Place: Rainbow Books

Best Musical Instruments Store

Old Boise Guitar Co.

After 20 years outfitting strumming stars, Old Boise Guitar is the place to go for all things rock (and acoustic, electric, folk, jazz, etc.). In guitars alone, they carry C.F. Martin, Taylor, Gitane, Gibson and so many more. Whether you know everything about frets and strings and bridges and chord changes or think a Fender Stratocaster is a new bumper for your Honda hybrid and just want to take guitar lessons, the folks at Old Boise are there to help. Stroll in, look around, but be careful ... your inner rock star will try to get out and you may find yourself taking home a new hammer.

515 Main St., 344-7600

Second Place: Dunkley's

Third Place: Dorsey Music

Best Gardening Store/Nursery

Edward's Greenhouse

A giant plantation of greenery of that's a veritable oasis in our little corner of Idaho desert. Wandering through the paths of annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, herbs and flowery things, one is likely to lose an entire day of great garden weather. If your thumb is not a shade of green, Edward's will plant your pots for you and if you need a gift idea, check out their gift baskets.

4106 Sand Creek St., 342-7548.

Second Place: Greenhurst Nursery

Third Place: Home Depot

Best Grocery Store

Boise Co-op

Like we need to tell you how fabulous the Co-op is. Desserts to die for, yummy deli dishes that you could pass off as your own at the office potluck, beer from all over the globe, more wine than most people know what to do with, a cheese selection that would make a European proud and the best selection of pate in town. And that's just the stuff you can eat. You can also peruse the aisles of vitamins, aromatherapies, oils, lotions and potions or pick up odds and ends for the house. And the meat! And the organic frozen dinners! And the bulk granola! The list goes on ...

888 W. Fort St., 472-4500

Second Place: Winco on Front St.

Third Place: Albertsons on 17th St.

Best Hair Salon

Tight Cuts

Not your usual barber shop. Get yourself a scalp massage, a beer and a haircut while you flirt with the good-looking stylists. No dummies about how to please a man, Tight Cuts knows you'll ditch the barber you've had since your first haircut if the girls smile big enough in their tight clothes. If only someone would come up with a way to make mowing the lawn this much fun.

2231 University Dr., 388-8444

Second Place: Graeber's

Third Place: Napoleon's

Best Tattoo Parlor

InkVision

Only the sickest tattoos in town. Ask just about anyone with extensive tat work where to go and they'll point you in the direction of 17th and Main. Whether you're wanting replicate the Navajo's bar mural on your back or just wanting a butterfly to hide on a butt cheek, the family at InkVision does it best according to BW readers.

1736 Main St., 383-0912

Second Place: New Moon

Third Place: Black Cat

Best New Store

Ishi Nights

Inside this gorgeous store are racks and racks of beautiful flowing gowns in every shade of the rainbow, shoes and accessories for any occasion that calls for something more than a tank top and khakis. Shopping at Ishi Nights for your attire guarantees you'll be the belle of the ball.

224 N. 9th St., 424-1498

Second Place: LUX Fashion Lounge

Third Place: Gallery at Hyde Park

Best Toy Store

Toys 'R' Us

"I don't want to grow up. I just want to be a Toys 'R' Us kid." That's right. Geoffrey the giraffe and the people of our fair city know where to get the best games and toys in town: Toys 'R' Us. It's huge and brightly lit and makes the kids go crazy.

131 N. Milwaukee, 322-1915

Second Place: Learning Express

Third Place: TIE-Best Buy and REI

Best Spa

Floating Feather Day Spa

With a name like Floating Feather, how could it be anything but the best? Offering the finest in facials, massages and everything else you need to scrub off that outer layer of exhaustion and find a more relaxed, re-energized you can be found at this day spa.

223 N. 6th St., 424-5153

Second Place: Body Essence

Third Place: Panache