Best Local Creative/Art Supply Store
Something borrowed? Find it in your friend's closet. Something blue? Well, you'd better have a grocery list ready, because when you go perusing the aisles of art supplies at Boise Blue, it ain't going to be a quick trip. That's not to say that the staff, patient as can be with jibbering would-be artists, can't direct you to your materials in a jiffy. But if you're just ... browsing... well, you're going to be there awhile. And you're going to come away with a packet of killer pens, some paper that you just can't resist and possibly a frame or two. At least, that's what happens to some of us when we make the plunge. Many of BW's cover art selections came straight from the ink, paint and paper they sell there. For that, we should all be grateful.
820 W. Jefferson St., 208-343-2564
Second Place: Michael's Craft and Hobby
Third Place: Craft Warehouse
Best Local Shoe Store
There is a distinct moment upon entering Dillard's when nearly every woman (and a few men) make a dead stop directly in front of the shoe department to quite literally catch their breath. So many shoes, so little time. They're all there before you, laid out like a beautiful, leathery rainbow. There are the dainty, strappy ones with long slender heels. There are the adorable little ballet flats, the sassy mary jane-inspired heels and the classic pumps. There are the high-tech, performance-engineered athletic shoes and the rough and ready outdoor shoes. There are the sleek European walking shoes and the attention-grabbing knee-high boots. There are even the teen-angst favorite Doc Martens and the ever-trendy Crocs—which now come in a winter version that looks like what happens when a Croc and an Ugg mate. Ah, shoes, beautiful shoes, and no store in Boise has as many of them as Dillard's. Yes, it's a chain, but we cannot resist the sway the shoe gods have over us. Who would want to even try?
430 N. Milwaukee St., 208-321-4646
Second Place: Shoez
Third Place: Bandanna Running and Walking
Best Local bookstore
Barnes and Noble
There comes a time in the life of every bibliophile when he or she enters a Barnes and Noble for the first time and realizes that there really is a place for people like them. All that book lovers of the world need in life can be found in this gargantuan repository. Row upon row of books of all description entice visitors to wander as whim commands.
From volumes of classic Greek literature to the latest paperback thriller, this store has it all, including and not limited to: cookbooks, self-help, travel, children's, technical manuals, history, horror, philosophy, fiction, science, religion, metaphysics and poetry. There are even activities like book clubs and character appearances for the children. But in the center of the store is the crowning jewel—a full coffee bar. There are books, caffeine, cookies, magazines, CDs, DVDs, and a reader's group area—no one ever needs to leave.
1315 N. Milwaukie St., 208-375-4454
second place: borders books and music
third Place: trip taylor bookseller
Best Local Car Wash
Metro Express Car Wash
When the old carbon footprint-maker needs a scrubbin', these guys have the brushes, the soap and the hustle to get it done. Got an extra coating of bugs on the grill? These guys have been known to let you go through a second time, but it's not usually necessary because they take the time to use good old fashioned elbow grease.
Free vacuum usage (and brother, their vacuums really suck) with the wash gets your car's interior dog-hair and child-debris free. Plus, check out the shirts and ties on these guys. Hustle and bustle, in one snappy shuffle.
1300 W. Front St., 208-331-1301
Second Place: Mister Car Wash
Third Place: Like Nu Car Wash
Best Local Secondhand Store
Lux Fashion Lounge
Keen shoppers alike have spoken. It is Lux that they lust for with the evolving inventory, good location and above-average fashions. Shopping at a secondhand/thrift store can have terrible results. It's seems like such a sweet deal to get a 1950's men's wool houndstooth blazer with pink silk lining for a quarter, but when after repeated washings and trips to the drycleaner it still reeks of stale sweat, you're wishing you'd just saved the damned quarter. You will never find torn, stained or smelly clothes at Lux. They have really high standards for what they'll accept for consignment, selling only high-quality used clothes and shoes and even carry a selection of new items, including awesome, totally tubular accessories. Not to discriminate, Lux has fashions for the menfolk too, and a Vintage store within close proximity.
785 W. Idaho St., 208-344-4LUX
Second Place: Idaho Youth Ranch
Third Place: Trading Places
Best Local Bank
The commercials with those stuffy old bankers in nothing but socks makes quite an impression, but we'll wager the piggy bank that it's the customer service that sealed the deal for readers. The bank with the snappy nickname has gone through a lot of transformations in the high-stakes financial game. What with the mergers, acquisitions and unworthy competitors going tits up, it's a salute to staying power that has WaMu customers remaining loyal to the navy blue and yellow. The accolades keep coming year after year for the bank that invests in local communities and takes care of its people.
Second Place: Wells Fargo
Third Place: US Bank
Best local Smoke Shop
Hannifin's Cigar Shop
Ahhhhhhhhh. That's the sound of a long plume of smoke being exhaled. If you pine for the good ol' days when smoking was cool, take a trip back in time at Hannifin's. It's like the owners took a look at the calendar in 1958 and said, "This is good. We'll stop here."
1024 W. Main St., 208-342-7473
Second Place: Sturman's Smoke Shop
Third Place: Big Smoke
Best Local Appliances
Purchasing a new stove, washer, dryer, refrigerator or any other major appliance can be kind of a scary deal. What's the best brand? How much should you spend? At Jim's, not only are you sure to get good, honest customer service, they also offer a wide selection of used appliances. At Jim's, the refrigerators won't keep your produce colder, dishwashers won't get your plates cleaner and the ovens won't get your food any hotter, but they will do exactly what they're built to do and you'll feel better knowing you worked with a company that cares.
1115 Lusk St., 208-345-7711
Second Place: Costco
Third Place: Home Depot
Best Local Antique store
Chock-full of items that evoke distant memories of Grandma's and Grandpa's house, Renewal is the best way to recycle both substance and style. Ornamental as well as functional, the antiques range from headboards to cocktail companions like a Miller High Life light-up sign to a crank phonograph. Stylish suitcases, and claw-foot coffee tables, not to mention an amazing selection of wall art, make scoring a handsome piece a sure thing. Lounge on a sectional or choose from a great selection of benches and one-of-a-kind chairs. Dress up yourself and your surroundings with pizzazz.
517 S. 8th St., 208-338-5444
Second Place: Trading Places
Third Place: Antique Mall
Best Local Furniture
The price tags have descriptions like, "fuzzy red goodness" or "groovitude at its best." And how happy is the shopper that spies a red dot on the price tag indicating a sale? A bowl of tape measures on the sales counter leaves no room to doubt your new furniture will fit right in. Not to mention all the beautiful mirrors hung about where catching a glimpse of the desire in your eyes is sure to seal the deal.
517 S. 8th St., 208-338-5444
Second Place: Trading Places
Third Place: Five Rivers
Best Local Gym
You heart the Y. There is a sense of community not found at other sweat stops. The crowning feature is a saline lap pool for master swimmers and the float-challenged. There are two water slides and a kiddy pool with artistic spill fountains. The adult locker rooms with showers, sauna and steam room are the most relaxing places to be after sweating profusely.
950 W. State St., 208-345-6408
Second Place: Gold's Gym on Parkcenter
Third Place: BSU Rec Center
Best Local Store
From humble beginnings in 1973, when the Co-op was only a few dozen people comprising the "food-buying club," the store has outgrown four locations. With a newly expanded wine shop now open across the parking lot, the Boise Co-op has just made yet another expansion to accommodate its ever-growing membership base and popularity. What makes it the best local store in Boise? No doubt its homegrown history, its huge selection of natural and organic goods, its commitment to local products and its reputation for giving back to the community.
888 W. Fort St., 208-472-4500
Second Place: The Record Exchange
Third Place: The Projectionist
Best Local Grocery Store
The Boise Co-op takes the cake for best grocery store, and if we had to count the reasons why, we'd run out of fingers before we made it out of the deli. The Co-op doesn't just have a commitment to providing the community with quality, natural, organic, free-range and locally grown meats and produce, we're pretty sure there is some sort of lasting and eternal sworn blood oath to its food ethics.
888 W. Fort St., 208-472-4500
Second Place: WinCo on Myrtle
Third Place: Costco
Best Local Gardening Store
Even though it's been there for more than 75 years, Edwards' 10 acres of garden wonderland is still a complete mystery to some Boise newcomers. Well, for all you gardeners looking for the place to pick up herbs, flowers, shrubs, trees, gift baskets, hanging plants or indoor greenery, Edwards Greenhouse has won for best local gardening store every year of Best of Boise for as far as the eye can see. Which is how far their gardens seem to stretch on a hot day.
4106 Sand Creek St., 208-342-7548
Second Place: Zamzows
Third Place: Greenhurst Nursery
Best Local Men's Clothing Store
We can guess why this one wins, in two parts: One, it's dang convenient. You can get your new tie, a better sportcoat or a set of new shoes in a hurry, get in and get out. The other reason: Macy's has a little bit of everything, and if you're dragged here by your spouse, you might be able to while away the time by getting yourself a little something while you wait.
918 W. Idaho St., 208-388-7650
Second Place: Old Navy
Third Place: Dillard's
Best Local New Store
Store by store, Boise is clawing its way out of Boise Towne Square shopping hell and acquiring the mega hipster stores that we used to have to go out of state to shop at. Soon, the time will come when we won't have to schedule vacations based on seasonal shopping needs. Eventually, we'll be able to rely less on the online shopping skills we've honed to perfection, and we'll be able to step out into the light, visit an actual store and try something on. With last year's opening of Urban Outfitters, we are one step closer to shopping like the big city kids get to shop. There's stuff for men, stuff for women and stuff for your walls. There's stuff for your bed, stuff for your feet, and stuff for your head. Who knew the 80s vest was making a comeback? UO did. And where can you not only buy great urban apparel but also check out a local artist once a month? You got it, UO. Now go forth and shop.
328 S. 8th St., 208-344-9900
Second Place: Rediscovered Bookshop
Third Place: Blue Artisan Cheese Shop
Best Local Hair Salon
Graeber and Company
An institution in the Boise Valley for over 30 years, this salon, nestled into a landmark location, boasts a team of pros who know a thing or two about total body care.
The glamorous facility houses stylists to make you look more beautiful, and true spa services to make you feel even better. Whether seeking rejuvenation, re-hydration or a tranquil escape from the stresses of life, Graeber and Company is the place to go. Part of the pampering is treating your mind, body and spirit with essential oils made of plants and flower essences, when used correctly, create physical and emotional changes. Might sound naughty, but it is oh so nice.
If the inside of Graeber and Company is any indication of how glam you're going to look on your way out, be prepared for a whole new pretty side of you. And hair is just the beginning. The award-winning Aveda salon is well-known for its hair stylists, but make-up, nails, massage, waxing, tinting and facials are all part of the Graeber regime as well.
350 N. 9th St. #103, 208-343-4915
Second Place: The Electric Chair
Third Place: The Beehive Salon
Best Local Tattoo
Inkvision Tattoo Studio
Referring to a tattoo place as a "studio" is exactly right, especially when talking about Inkvision; the people working there are artists, creating beautiful, personal images on skin. Aiming to please the customer, they will concede to inking out the basic rose on the shoulder, or be an intricate part of designing a full sleeve of pieces that serve as colorful reminders of your life experiences.
People (usually those without skin art) usually say that the two reasons they don't have tattoos are, one, it hurts. Well, hell yes, it hurts. Duh. And two, it's so permanent. Yes, it's that, too. That's part of the magic and allure of a tattoo, but it's also the best reason to make sure when you make the decision to get one (or another one) to have it done by the best. We may have mentioned this before, but the question, "Where'd you get that gorgeous tat?" often results in the answer, "Why, Inkvision Tattoo."
Make your appointments soon because as hard as it is to get in now, once Virginia Elwood appears on national television as a guest artist on the cast of Miami Ink, you'll be waiting in line behind the masses.
1736 W. Main St., 208-383-0912
Second Place: Black Cat
Third Place: New Moon
Best Local Women's Clothing Store
One of the exciting things about Boise's rejuvenation are all the clothing shops. No longer can we complain about being behind the times because we have a place like the Projectionist keeping us very up-to-date. Unique clothing and accessories—some by local designers—guarantee a purchase of anything from the Projectionist will have you moving fashion forward.
1020 W. Main St., 208-342-8700
Second Place: Macy's
Third Place: Ann Taylor Loft
Best Local CD/Record Store
The Record Exchange
We love The Record Exchange, too. Independently owned and operated—and celebrating 30 years in business—BW looks at The Record Exchange as kind of a big sister. We want to be just like the RX when we grow up.
1105 W. Idaho St., 208-344-8010
Second Place: Hastings
Third Place: Barnes & Noble