BEST PLACE TO GET ILLUMINATED
All things lighting. Seriously, they have everything and anything to do with lighting. Lightbulbs galore. Fuses and wires out the wazoo. They even repair lamps—at reasonable prices, too. We took them one of our lamps that quit working and not only did they fix it, but we also got a history lesson. We loved that. Oh, did we mention that they are super-nice in there, too? They won't make you feel like an idiot if you don't know the difference between a fuse and a lightbulb. 1420 W. Grove St., 208-344-2507, alloway.lightingandfans.com.
BEST CHEAP HAIR CUT
Looking current and fashionable is important, but on a journalist's salary, it's not always easy. Then we found D'Shaw Brothers Institute, a school of hair design on the corner of Cole and Ustick. While our stylist was learning to cut, set and curl, we never looked better. She's a color genius and kept us looking age-appropriate but never aged (girl knows how to hide the grays) at a price that not only didn't break the bank, but left us enough in our pockets to support our caffeine habits. 3419 N. Cole Rd., 208-345-6164, dshawbeauty.com.
Grover's Pay and Pack
To satisfy your look-at-me-I'm-a-general-contractor urge, you have to go somewhere that has lots of switches and wire and pipes. That place is Grover's Pay & Pack, a venerable Boise institution for the do-it-yourselfer. Go ahead. Make a list. Strap on a tape measure. Take a number. Grover's takes everyone seriously. 5730 W. Franklin Rd., 208-342-6576, groverelectric.com.
BEST PLACES TO GET FRAMED
Picture This and Blue Dog Framing
Every picture needs a good frame. We have two favorites: Picture This, who takes care of our homes, and Rick Jackson at Blue Dog Framing, who does BW's covers for our annual art auction. 215 N. Fifth St., 208-388-0641; 208-407-4045.
BEST PLACE TO BUY PAINT
Boise Paint and Glass
Paint schmaint. That's what we've always said. The stuff from that big box retailer over there and over there and over there is good enough. If you, dear reader, take nothing else from this issue of Best of Boise, take this: The paint at Boise Paint and Glass is the real deal. And there is really a difference in paint. They have an amazing selection of all things paint related. We especially love how they have a special paint color area organized by historically accurate paint colors. Our sales guy helped us select the proper brush for cutting in that large pesky area where the ceiling meets the wall. We are considering going pro. 410 N. Orchard St., 208-343-4811, boisepaintandglass.com.
BEST CARCINOGENIC SLOGAN
When You Gotta Habit
Not that we're condoning smoking or anything, "cough," but we sure do love a good pun. And we've heard from our smoking pariah pals, "cough," that Tobacco Connection has a pretty good selection. Various locations, tobaccoconnection.net.
BEST PLACE TO BUY DOG FOOD AND ORGANIC LAWN FERTILIZER
Nobody slings pet products, garden goods and everything necessary for a lush, green yard quite like Zamzows. The store is more comfortable than those huge national chains. They always have fun things to look at in addition to a great selection of greenery in the outdoor nursery. Zamzows carries fresh and saltwater fish, offers pet grooming and often has cute and fuzzy animals on display—baby chicks, rabbits and even a chinchilla. The staff is always willing to offer advice and the store has even implemented a lend-a-leash policy to help the leashless avoid a ticket while walking their dogs in the Foothills. Various locations, zamzows.com.
BEST KILT RENTAL
Wee Bit O' Scotland
Ever had one of those occasions when pants just aren't going to cut it? Need to feel the breeze in your nether regions and experience the non-binding freedom of pleats but don't want to put out the expense to buy your own kilt? All it takes is a quick jaunt to Wee Bit O' Scotland's rental department to pick up some Highlands garb—at least temporarily. 4501 Emerald St., 208-331-5675, weebitoscotland.com.
BEST GUY TO COME CLEAN YOUR CARPET JUST TWO DAYS AFTER HE'S ALREADY CLEANED YOUR CARPETS BUT THE DOG GOT SICK
Clean Pro Advance Cleaning Systems, Inc.
Arlo is the man. He came and cleaned our carpets and damn they looked good. For two days, then our dogs got sick. We called him in a panic, and he came back and cleaned them. Did we say he was the man? 5351 N. Northwall Ave., 208-853-1429.
BEST BIKE COURIER SERVICE
Northstar Cycle Courier, Inc.
Some superheroes have lightning bolts or bats emblazoned on their uniforms. Boise's lightning-fast couriers of information and protectors of the bike lane wear stars. Patrick Sweeney and Warren O'Dell shoot all over town on two wheels delivering everything from documents to coffee (check out the photo of Warren with a few gallons of coffee in his bag at boisebikesbeer.blogspot.com) to your newborn. OK, bad joke on the newborn, but for real on the coffee. 208-331-5056, northstarcourier.com.
BEST PLACE TO BUY JESUS
So they say you can't buy your way into heaven, or whatever, but there's some stuff at Dragonfly that might get you really close. Like a bobble-head Jesus, a Last Supper lunchbox or some Wash Away Your Sins lip balm. And if those don't do the trick, there's the Deluxe Miracle Jesus action figure with glow-in-the-dark hands. If this little guy can really turn water into wine, we might just forsake the heavenly kingdom to relish in pleasures of the grape flesh. 414 W. Main St., 208-338-9234.
BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR MARMOLEUM ON
Boise's Green Foundations Building Center offers more than good advice, environmentally friendly building supplies and low toxic paint. It sells all-natural marmoleum, plus all that other stuff you need to fix your place up without getting beat up by your social conscience. 5242 W. Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-321-1400, greenfoundations.com.
BEST EVENT TO BUY PLANTS
Idaho Botanical Plant Sale
Get the wheelbarrows ready. Some people in Boise wait with bated breath for the yearly spring plant sale at the Idaho Botanical Garden. Members of IBG get first pick the day before the sale opens to the public, but there is always plenty of greenery left to haul off by means of buckets, barrels and crates. All the plant starts begin to bloom under the supervised care of staff at the gardens and are grown on site in nurseries and greenhouses. The profits from the plant sale go back to growing and maintaining the horticulture department at Boise State. 2355 N. Old Penitentiary Rd., 208-343-8649. idahobotanicalgarden.org.
BEST PLACE TO MAKE A PHONE CALL
Flying M Phone Booth
Whether you use the pay phone or not, it's still the best place to make a phone call. Best for the people sitting around you, that is. That way you can blab away about so and so's sister's cousin's friend without the rest of us being burdened by your loud mouth. Plus it's a chill little room in which to spend a few minutes, and there's caffeine nearby. 500 W. Idaho St., 208-345-4320.
BEST POOPER SCOOPERS
All types of clients request the service, from one-time clean-ups to those with weekly loads. People might be surprised to hear that it's a money-making business, but the Turd Nerds gained 62 regular customers within their first year. Their slogans include "We are No. 1 in the No. 2 Business," and "We doo the job no one wants to doo." Noting that it's a crappy job but someone has to do it, the Kelloggs know that as long as people continue to own dogs yet don't have time to clean up after them, the Turd Nerds will have poop to scoop. Call and schedule an appointment, and if the business' machine recording comes on, you'll know they are already out in someone's yard picking up dog bombs. 208-713-2198.
BEST ADVICE FOR WANNA-BE GARDENERS
University of Idaho Extension Office
Oh, black-thumbed gardeners, weep not over your dying lawn. Do not mourn your wilting shrubbery. Hope is not lost for your sickly tree. The master gardeners at the University of Idaho Extension Office can render assistance. All that is needed is but to bring a sample of said ailing plant to their office and they will dispense botanical wisdom. Do not fear an arduous journey. Lay down your burdens and pick up the phone to partake of their knowledge. 5880 Glenwood St., Garden City, 208-377-2107, extension.ag.uidaho.edu/ada.
BEST MAC DADDY
These guys don't actually work for Apple Computer, but they know everything there is to know about Steve Job's empire. If you want to know how much memory is in your Mac, have a question about which iPod has the best hard drive or just want to drool over the latest monitors, iconic boxes and cool carrying cases, get in line. 8610 W. Overland Rd., 208-323-6721, maclifeboise.com.
BEST PLACE TO BUY A WINTER SOLSTICE GIFT
It happens every year; what do you get all your Wiccan friends when the winter solstice rolls around? Fruitcake hardly seems appropriate. This year, help them to be in touch with their inner animal totems, get perspective on the cosmos or find out how to tune in to their own intuition. For, truly, what says "Happy Solstice" more than some cosmic clarity? 712 N. Orchard St., 208-333-0831, crones-cupboard.com.
BEST PLACE TO BUY COMPUTER PARTS, GARGOYLES, BODY JEWELRY AND ADULT SEX TOYS
Great Gargoyles/Small Business Systems
You may think it's just your run-of-the-mill computer store, but boy are you in for a surprise. While most businesses like to "specialize" in one category of "related" goods and/or services, this is one business that truly believes in diversifying its clientele. With this kind of selection, it's a one-stop-shop for, well, umm, we're not quite sure how to describe this kind of shopper, but it's probably your average pierced, tech-savvy goth with a healthy sex life. 295 N. Orchard St., 208-375-5050, greatgargoyles.com.
BEST LIT WITS
We just can't seem to get out of Rediscovered without spending money. Maybe they spray something in the air, a microscopic infiltration agent that chemically alters your good judgment and persuades you to hand over your debit card in exchange for stacks of books. Or maybe the staff there just happens to really love what they do, and they want to share every good book they've ever read with you. And believe you us, they've each read more books this year than some entire families have read in the last decade. If they don't have what you want, they'll order it for you. Got a book club? You get a discount. In-store author signings, writers' clubs, book clubs and, of course, a whole lot of books. 7079 Overland Rd., 208-376-4229, rdbooks.org.
BEST PLACE TO STOCK UP FOR THE APOCALYPSE OR A WEEKEND CAMPING TRIP
For 25 years, Boise Army/Navy has been the go-to place for everything from a tent and a propane camp stove to an actual WWII Navy pea coat or Russian ammo belt. While they still carry military surplus items that no longer serve their original purpose but can be transformed into something very cool (a canvas canteen carrier makes a stellar purse), they also carry products with the outdoors-person in mind, including a wide selection of boots, outerwear, rafts, sunglasses, cast iron cookware and everything else you need for a weekend—or a week—roughing it in the mountains. But never fear, if you need to buy a gift for that mercenary or militia member in your life, they have that, too. 4924 Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-322-0660.
BEST PLACE THAT SUCKS
Fisher's Vacuum Villa
Fisher's Vacuum Villa is the place to get a perfect sucking unit for a great price. Don't buy the hype: Vacuums were better in the '70s, and the guy at Fisher's knows how to fix those '70s machines right. 1323 W. State St., 208-343-9751.
BEST CHEAP EUROPEAN VACATION
ANTIQUE WORLD MALL
Tucked well into the back of a strip mall on Overland sits the Antique Mall. From the outside, it looks like a regularly sized store. But a few steps inside and a glance to the right or left provides a view that goes on forever. The place is chock full of tchotchkes on shelves, tables, chairs and boxes (that are also for sale). It's an overwhelmingly large place to navigate, and it's not impossible to get lost. But they have a clever way of helping you to keep your bearings; each aisle is named after a European city or country. You can roam Rome glancing at costume jewelry; travel France in search of a monkey-shaped cookie jar; or glide down Venice and browse through Depression glass. 4544 W. Overland Rd., 208-342-5350, antiqueworldmall.com.
BEST PLACE TO SEND YOUR 3-YEAR-OLD FOR A SAMPLE
The Chocolat Bar
When they took away the wine, First Thursday became a cheese fest. But one store kept things interesting by giving away artisan chocolate samples. If you are embarrassed to go into Chocolat Bar more than once, send in a 3-year-old to ask for seconds. 206 N. Ninth St., 208-338-7771, thechocolatbar.com.
BEST BIKE SHOP WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE FROM THE BW OFFICE SO YOU CAN BUY A NEW BIKE SEAT SO YOU CAN RIDE HOME AFTER SOMEONE HAS STOLEN YOURS
Close your eyes and imagine your bike without a seat. Now open them. What's left? A post or a hole? Either way—given the sensitive anatomy that a seat takes such care to support—whether you're left with a post or a hole, the ride home might pinch just a little bit. That's why we're thankful George's Cycles is within stand-up-riding distance of our offices. 251 E. Front St., 208-343-3782, georgescycles.com.
BEST GUY TO CALL WHEN SOMEONE BREAKS INTO YOUR CAR AND DESTROYS THE BACK WINDOW
Clearview Glass Co.
Some losers broke the glass out of the window of our truck canopy one night. The truck canopy company would have charged a frighteningly large replacement cost, so we called numerous window companies only to learn they wouldn't fix it. Then, we called Clearview Glass. Not only did we get a new window, but we also got it for a great price. 208-376-7637.
BEST SNOWSHOE RENTAL
We hate post-holing. Not the act of building a fence. We're talking the "trying to walk across snow and being a little too heavy to stay on top, so you go shooting through the crust and you're left with one leg buried to the thigh and the other on the surface, but when you try to pull your leg out, the other one goes under" post-holing. It's neither graceful nor fun. But here's an easy solution: snowshoes. If you don't already own a pair, rent 'em. Try McU's. 822 W. Jefferson St., 208-342-7734, mcusports.com.
BEST FISH RESCUE
Fish Aquariums and Stuff
Bill and Judy Knight know a lot about tanks. Their business continues to be a beacon in the aquarist's search for knowledge and reasonably priced supplies. The store has a selection of fresh and saltwater fish and aquarium supplies. Basically everything you need to start and maintain a tank. Many displaced fish have found new homes thanks to the open tank policy. Otherwise unwanted fish would still be floating in the buckets irresponsible fish owners put them in. 3023 N. Cole Rd., 208-377-1119.
BEST EXAMPLE OF RIDICULOUS CONSUMERISM
Boise Towne Square, Thanksgiving Opening
Last Thanksgiving, we were left shaking our heads at the complete and utter loss of the actual meaning of the holiday season. Rather than spend the day with their friends and families, roughly 3,000 people lined up outside the Boise Towne Square mall, toughing out bitterly cold temperatures for the chance to be one of the first through the door of the mall's inaugural 1 a.m. opening. There were fights, the parking lot was trashed, and when the double doors finally swung open, some shoppers desperate to get a limited number of gift bags let nothing stand in their way—including other shoppers who were being crushed in the door. In fact, the onslaught was so great that one of the large glass doors was taken off its hinges. We know early day-after-Thanksgiving openings have become a holiday shopping tradition, so much so it has its own name—Black Friday—but, seriously, when we start foregoing our own families for an extra 10 percent off the price of a sweater, maybe it's time to start rethinking our priorities.
BEST GO TEAM
Capitol Schwinn Cyclery
Lou, the owner of Capitol Schwinn Cyclery, has been at the helm for 29 years. The shop sells more than just bikes; they are the biggest Rawlings dealer in the Pacific Northwest and sell more baseballs than any other store, shipping the round, red-stitched balls all over the place. Lou runs an "upper end baseball store" with some gloves costing close to $800. The Italian leather, hand-stitched gloves are worn by many major league players. When Lou's son was drafted by Atlanta, Lou's interest in baseball really took off. Other interesting items in the inventory include 15 different unicycles and Benelli shotguns. And of course, he sells some bikes. Lou said anyone who knows anything knows that if you are going to buy a cruiser, you buy a Schwinn. 1015 S. Vista Ave., 208-336-2453.
BEST "WHO ARE WE KIDDING?" BUSINESS NAME
Got the Munchies?
Who are they kidding? With a name like Got the Munchies? it's not hard to guess the state of consciousness of the people who are going to call the 24/7 delivery service for a 3 a.m. snack of beef jerky and barbecue potato chips. Everything from the tie-dyed background and the Bob Marley video on their Myspace page, to the company's perma-grinning logo, hints at who they expect will be calling. And it's a great service to have available when you just can't find your keys (or your car) but need a bag of Skittles and some chocolate milk. Any time of the day or night, for about $10 plus the cost of food, Got the Munchies? will stop at your favorite restaurant or grocery store and bring you whatever your dry little mouth is craving. 866-996-8624, gtm247.com.
BEST PLACE TO BUY DRUMSTICKS
John Bonham we are not. We are just learning to play the drums. So when we went to Dorsey Music to by a new pair of drumsticks, not because we were drumming our little hearts out but because one of our friends of the four-legged furry variety had chewed one up, we almost passed out. There is a whole wall dedicated to drumsticks. Who knew? We certainly had no idea that drumsticks were a major industry. Some with plastic tips, some all wood, some carbon fiber some even with diamonds. OK we were getting carried away there but you get the point. So many drum sticks we didn't even know where to begin. That is where the good folks at Dorsey Music come in. They came to our rescue and not only explained the nuances of the different types of drumsticks but also helped us pick a pair to suit our needs. 5015 W. State St, 208-853-4141, dorseymusic.com.
BEST PLACE TO BUY KICKS AND STAR WARS FIGURES
In between a women's boutique and a wine bar on Ninth Street sits The Deluxe, a little shop with a big-ass attitude. Stocked with the coolest kicks from Nike, Adidas, Puma and more, The Deluxe specializes in "urban sport couture" for your feet. Owner Mike Bryant carries classic and contemporary styles in an array of colors at prices that will make you feel big pimpin' without actually having to work the streets. And if you're dying to add a 1989 G.I. Joe Snake Eyes to your collection, check with Bryant. He usually has a whole display of G.I. Joe and Transformers dolls—uh, sorry, action figures—still in their blister packs next to the register. 214 N. Ninth St., 208-424-0315, dlx208.com.
BEST PLACE For FROZEN SQUID
Thana's Little World Market
Stepping into Thana's Little World Market is like taking a mini trip to another land. Colorful sights and the pungent smells of exotic spices fill the compact space, and the aisles are lined with ethnic products including Persian, Southeast Asian and African offerings. Some items are familiar, while others are a lesson in different cultural tastes. Frozen fish like squid, shrimp and other more intimidating selections stare back at shoppers from behind frozen glass—at least the ones that still have their eyes do. It is also a great place to get a dry straw mat perfect for a variety of uses, such as centering oneself after being creeped out by dead fish eyes. 4101 W. Overland Rd., 208-331-3033, thanasworldmarket.com.
BEST PLACE TO Patch Your Hole
With help from the TLC's fashion makeover TV show What Not To Wear, we've found that a good tailor can take a piece of apparel from just OK to fabulous. Sometimes an incredible discovery at a vintage shop is marred by a tear in the lining or a hole in the hem. And the devastation of throwing away of a favorite pair of jeans often has us keeping something until it's little more than a couple of denim straps and some rivets. Alterations Excellence in BoDo can turn an ill-fitting new purchase into something stylish; they can give a worn-out pea coat new life; and they can save a favorite pair of dungarees until the next time they get snagged on a desk drawer. And then they'll fix them all over again. The best part? They do it all on the cheap. 404 S. Eighth St. (downstairs), 208-343-4709.