Santa Cruz Good Times

Sep 18th
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Best Shops

Adult Store, Lingerie
“We want to push the envelope, but we don’t want to give you a papercut doing it,” says Camouflage co-owner Shannon Collins, putting the store, as a whole, in a nutshell. The iconic downtown sex shop, which turns 30 this year, is edgy but not over the top, sexy but never crude, and inviting but not forceful. Started as a small T-shirt shop by Joan Levine in 1980, the store has evolved into the area’s most complete adult store—selling “a little bit for everyone” as Collins says, from lingerie and panties to lubes and sex toys, to their biggest seller, vibrators. “Camouflage sells hundreds and hundreds of vibrators,” says Levine, who sold the store to Collins and her husband, Ken Vinson, in 2006. “Who is buying them? Doesn’t everyone in Santa Cruz already have a vibrator?” But there are always newer, better and different options to try, and their best-selling items are “far and away” the premiere, top-of-the-line vibrators (popularized after the infamous Sex and the City episode in which Vibratex’s Rabbit Pearl guest stars). But in addition to a wide selection of products, Camouflage offers notable customer service—something that is especially important when dealing with a sensitive, and potentially uncomfortable, subject. Collins and Vinson are Certified Sex Educators with more than 60 hours of training each in everything from human anatomy to kink, and each employee undergoes two weeks of training before starting. Whether a customer is shy or a sex toy rookie, the staff is eager to answer questions and share their extensive knowledge of the products. And while most shoppers are picking up a fun gift or item for themselves, there is the occasional customer with a serious question. “Just yesterday we were able to help a guy out who was having trouble with his wife,” says Vinson. “We aren’t therapists but one of the things the staff gets a lot of reward out of is when someone comes in with an issue and their expertise can help them solve it.” The shop is proudly “sex positive,” and welcoming to all walks of life—something that has made them a local favorite and a true community institution.
Visit Camoflage online. QUICK BIT: Since 2001, Camouflage has sold more than 60,000 vibrators. That’s 2.5 vibrators for every woman living in the City of Santa Cruz!  | Elizabeth Limbach
(Adult Store) Pure Pleasure, Frenchy’s (Lingerie) Victoria’s Secret, Amoureuse, Perrfect Girl

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BestOof2010iconAntiques Store
A bit reminiscent of your grandparents’ attic, treasures of intricate design are gathered together here. They range from glassware, ceramics, fishing gear, and clocks, to vintage jewelry, silverware, hats and more. It’s like a permanent flea market stationed at the heart of town, its inventory ever changing and evolving. QUICK BIT: Antiques span from the 1880s to the 1970s, and they were one of the first businesses to operate downtown after the earthquake. | April Short
Runners-up Saffron & Genevieve, Echo, Stripe

Arts & Crafts
PALACE ARTSBestOof2010icon
Last year it celebrated year 60. This year, it heads into the second decade of the new century with just as much appeal as it had back in the late-’40s. We’re a sucker for multicolored pens, but the array of tactile paper and art supplies is simply vast. This creative portal is a real Santa Cruz institution. Best news: With two convenient locales—Downtown Santa Cruz and Capitola—it’s really the best bet for local businesses needing supplies.
QUICK BIT: PA often holds a unique array of classes. Fashion Sketching for Teens is coming up in May. | Charlie Price
Runners-up Beverly’s Fabrics, Lenz Arts, Artisan’s Gallery

Auto: New
OCEAN HONDABestOof2010icon
Ocean Honda’s website says its goal is to earn your business for life. They seem to be doing a good job thus far, as readers have voted them Best New Auto dealer. The venue offers customers the choice to shop online for their new vehicle purchase. Customers can narrow down their selection options by body style, make, price range, year, color (both interior and exterior), and transmission type. QUICK BIT: Ocean also guarantees Genuine Honda Certified vehicles at the lowest price on their website. | AS
Toyota of Santa Cruz, Subaru of Santa Cruz, Marty Franich

Auto: Used
Another great win for Toyota Santa Cruz.  Beyond the myriad used and new cars here—from large trucks to ultra efficient hybrids—Toyota Santa Cruz is also known for its helpful customer service that takes a lot of the pressure and anxiety out of buying some new wheels. QUICK BIT: We heard it’s OK to ask for the “hottest” deal. Tell ‘em Charlie sent ya. | CP
Ocean Honda, Auto One, Beachside Auto

Known for doing the “right thing,” Specialized has made a dent locally—but in the very best way. The shop focuses its services on European-made vehicles and it employs factory-trained technicians. Here’s to all the Volvo, Mercedes and BMW drivers out there. QUICK BIT: Back in 1994, Bob Emmert started the company in a junkyard with two technicians who mainly specialized in recycled car parts. | CP
Rusty’s, Branciforte, Water Star Motors

Beachwear, Surfboard Shop
O’NEILL SURF SHOPBestOof2010icon
When Santa Cruz’s cadre of water babies wants to look good both in and out of the water, it follows the road to the formidable red brick building on 41st Avenue. The two-story surf merch epicenter has long been the authority on wetsuits, boards, clothes and accessories, driving folks inside through its doors even when there’s a swell hitting town. There’s a comprehensive surfboard room in the back, the entire upstairs is devoted to the best line of wetsuits around, and the sea of racks boasting the hippest beach threads, shoes and shades will have you riding the latest wave of hot trends. QUICK BIT: Jack O’Neill may be the most revered local, but he was born in Denver and raised in Portland before hitting California. | Linda Koffman
Runners-up (Beachwear) Pacific Wave, Cowell’s, Nubia’s
(Surfboard Shop) Santa Cruz Surf Shop, Freeline, Arrow

Best Bicycle Shop/Repair
best7_shop_bikeBICYCLE TRIP
According to the American Community Survey, 9.3 percent of locals who commute to work do so by bike, up from 4 percent in 2000. Another indicator is Ecology Action’s Bike to Work week, which they report has grown 50 percent in participation since that time. With this growing awareness in mind, it’s clear why Bicycle Trip is the town’s No. 1 pick for best bike shop. Not only is the store a smorgasbord of amazing bikes, gear and the like, it’s a community hub for cyclists, an invaluable resource for newbies, and a crusader in the fight against issues like childhood obesity and global warming with help from bicycles. Almost 35-years-old, Bicycle Trip has long been creating and empowering the bicycle community, now with programs like “Bike Shop at School” and “Bike Smart,” a bicycle education program for school-aged children that teaches about helmet use, bikes as transportation, safe bike routes and more. They are also a sponsor of local nonprofit Project Bike Trip, which is dedicated to “providing comprehensive academic and community bicycle education for youth and adults.” As if there aren’t already enough reasons to make the eco-friendly purchase, the shop offers free financing for one year through their “Ride Now, Pay Later” program. Zero down and 0 percent interest for one year on a hot new bike? They couldn’t make it any easier. Boasting brands like Kona, Giant, Felt, Electra, Hunter, Rocklobster, 2Hip and Redline—plus all the gear, gadgets and assistance you’ll ever need—Bicycle Trip not only makes biking smart, safe and affordable, they make sure you have a damn good time, also. QUICK BIT: Now settled in to its new, larger location, Bicycle Trip is currently building a test track. | EL
Runners-up Spokesman, The Bike Church, Family Cycling

Book Store
It’s our literary behemoth and we love it. Being able to house thousands of books is one thing, but to be able to make a political mark nationally, now that’s just dandy. And that’s Bookshop. The Coonerty clan, who own BSC, have on more than one occasion poked fun at many a public figure. (Just last year, it offered a bag of nuts dubbed “Sarah Palin’s Just Plain Nutz” during the launch of Palin’s book.) You don’t have to read the small print to know that all that, and also rounding up some of the finest collection of authors for booksignings each year, make this place still one of the best in our hearts. QUICK BIT: BSC is hosting the legendary David Sedaris in a special event at The Civic on May 2. | CP
Runners-up Logos, Capitola Bookcafe, Borders

Car Wash
Yet another win for Whaler’s! Man, the place must go through, like, more than a million gallons of soap each year, but it also services thousands of customers who appreciate its top-notch service. There are some perks, like online coupons. Locals can also buy pre-paid wash booklets, which save you upward of $100 if you plan way ahead. Attention to detail really stands out here and that goes a long way in times when great customer service seems to be dwindling. Not here, though.  QUICK BIT: More than 110,000 cars roll through every year. | CP
Master’s Car Wash, Cruz Car Wash, Scotts Valley  Car Wash


Carpet CleaningBestOof2010icon
Practiced in the art of carpet hygiene since 1987, Mike Pailliotet started the business with his wife of 22 years, Paula. Pailliotet has a track record for reliable customer service, a large vehicle full of equipment, and a notable sense of humor.  But Pailliotet is not only a “connoisseur” of clean carpets, he is also well versed in the arts of upholstery, tile, stone, and grout cleaning and sealing. So rest easy, mess-makers of Santa Cruz. QUICK BIT: In an effort to limit dependency on foreign oil, the company truck runs on 90 percent biodiesel fuel. | AS
Peachy Clean, Bee Cleene, Carpet King

Clothing: Children
best7_shop_JellyBeanzJELLI BEANZ

My sister-in-law had a baby last year, and at the time, she raved and raved about a gem of a baby store she had found, where clothing and toys were incredibly affordable, without style or taste being compromised. Her new treasure chest? Jelli Beanz, the winner of this year’s Best Store for Baby Clothes. (Trust me, I remember some of the clothes her little baby wore, and they were darn cute, so this trusty store more than deserves its win.) Besides offering an extraordinary selection of new and used baby items, Jelli Beanz also offers general kids’ things like toys, and maternity clothes as well. The space can also be rented out for parties, and customers can trade in their used baby items to acquire credit to the store. As everyone knows, having a baby can be quite costly, but by making wise choices, you can be cost-conscious in your preparation for your newborn. Think of Jelli Beanz like a snazzy, organized, stylish version of Toys R Us, but with shockingly discounted prices. You can’t go wrong here. Neither can your baby. And if you’re headed to a baby shower anytime soon, there’s no need to burst your wallet; you can head to Jelli Beanz and find a perfectly suitable toy for that 1-year-old. Jelli Beanz—it’s as sweet as a real jelly bean.
QUICK BIT: Owner Sherri Alejandro says, “We don't sell Jelly Beans, we sell baby clothes. But we give away Jelly Beans, because not giving away Jelly Beans would be just plain mean." | Christa Martin
Babyshop Santa Cruz, Hop Scotch, Children’s Place

Clothing: Men
Prim and proper may not be the most common look in Santa Cruz, but if you have an occasion to really dress nicely—or simply have more discerning fashion tastes—Patrick James is the place. Carrying a wide variety of men’s labels, the chain specializes in the kind of attire perfect for a round of golf in Monterey or a gourmet meal. QUICK BIT: Variety sells—Polos, designer suits, slacks and sweaters are a hit here. | Zach Stoloff
Runners-up Ross, Pacific Wave

Clothing: Women
Still a hot ticket! Great brands. Great feel. It just works here. From Boyfriend jeans to tunics and skinny leg pants to maxi dresses, this unique Downtown Santa Cruz jewel remains your winner.
QUICK BIT: During a recent trip into the store, we loved the great variety of jewelry and nice selection of large/tall size clothing. | CP
Stripe, Shimmy Bag

Comic Book Store
Perhaps best known for it's appearance in 1987's cult hit The Lost Boys, Atlantis Fantasyworld has been the go-to spot for Santa Cruz comic fans for more than three decades (several lifetimes for most comic book stores). And while owner and founder Joe Ferrara stands behind his product selection, he credits the shop's consistent success over the years to his tremendous staff and he makes a great point. The smiling faces and warm reception that greet each customer are as strong a reason to visit as anything Superman is up to each week. Frequently hosting special events and guest signings, Atlantis Fantasyworld is less a comic book store and more like a venue for locals to get together with their heroes and just have fun. Who could ask for anything more? QUICK BIT: In 1996 Atlantis Fantasyworld won the "Will Eisner Spirit of Comics" award for best retailer! Yeah, that's pretty much like winning best picture at the Oscars. | Ray Gabriel

Computer Service
When my laptop hard drive crashed mid-finals week my freshman year at UCSC, I thought I was ruined. Everything was on there—my music, my essays, everything. I did not know where to turn, and my mom’s friend who is a local of Santa Cruz directed me to Dave’s. They ordered me a new hard drive and it arrived in just days. They also gave me a wonderful tip—“save your stuff online,” they said. That changed my life and I have forever been glad that I was pointed in the direction of Dave’s. Dave’s employees know the in and outs of computer architecture and always find the time to educate costumers on both software and hardware methodology. At the very least, the employees will be sure to remember your name and will promptly call you with any necessary reminders. | AS
Runners-up Cruzio, ClickAway, Wilkens Consulting

Dry Cleaners
best7_shop_ClassicCleanersCLASSIC CLEANERSBestOof2010icon
Remember that drumstick grease that splattered on your shirt after Uncle Bob bumped into you at the family picnic? Or that splash of wine that landed on your beloved trench coat. This is where Classic Cleaners comes in. CC offers myriad services from sorting and cleaning your laundry basket of icky clothes, to tidying up your bedding, to performing a series of alterations to your garments. The company is “classically” known for doing good works by way of various benefits like a local Prom Dress Drive, which ended in March—people dropped off a used or new prom dress at Classic Cleaners, which was cleaned and given to teens in need. Classy! QUICK BIT: Owner Pamela Whittington quips, “We know where your dirty laundry is.” | CM
Bariteau’s, Vapor, Pacific Dry Cleaners

EYE QBestOof2010icon
The owners of this unique spot exude a powerful sense of care for their clients. Most readers probably “get” that since they voted Eye Q the best spot for eyeware, but in a day and age when real customer service seems to have exhausted its last breath, this place is a refreshing welcome. QUICK BIT: You can get some of the best custom glasses here, all fitted. | CP
Runners-up Spex, Plaza Lane Optometry, Costco

Electronics Store
Racking up another win, SCE seems to be the store for computer parts, electronic components, audio video connectors, cables, tools and much more. Think of it as heaven for techies. QUICK BIT: The popular shop caters more to PC enthusiasts, hobbyists and tinkerers than the “everyday” shopper. | EL
Santa Cruz Electronics, Radio Shack, Fry’s

Financial Institution
BAY FEDERALBestOof2010icon
It’s local. You dig it. Just keep putting your money in this venerable local behemoth. QUICK BITS: 100 percent of its employees volunteered on behalf of the credit union to assist in community not-for-profit endeavors. Meaning ... they raised funds for and /or volunteered to local organizations providing support to the community. And then there’s the fact that, since 2005, Bay Fed has taught financial management skills to more than 5,000 children and adults in Santa Cruz County and the Salinas community.  | CP
Lighthouse Bank, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, Santa Cruz County Bank

Sure, it’s been serving Santa Cruz County for more than 35 years, but you folks seem to appreciate both the vast knowledge here and the variety of options available to consumers—from hardwood floors to carpet and tiles and more. QUICK BIT: Don’t forget to inquire about the shop’s “earth friendly” products. | CP
Floors Etc., Interior Vision, Greenspace

best7_shop_TheFlowerShackTHE FLOWER SHACK
To put it bluntly: If you want to shack up, it helps to hit up the Flower Shack. That’s right, I said it; wooing a beloved with a bouquet from this quaint outdoor shop has no doubt been of assistance to many bleeding hearts in town. The local florist combines the expertise of its welcoming staff with a diverse buffet of flowers for a one-two punch that will brighten anyone’s day (and room). With original arrangements made to order that cull both store-grown and organic flowers, the tiny spot around the corner of The Buttery eschews the corporate, sterile feel of so many flower outlets. Instead, it embraces the atmosphere of a Parisian sidewalk vendor, opting for an open-air structure with employees as vibrant as the flowers they peddle. Offering myriad potted plants, full-bodied sunflowers, sturdy orchids, chilled gardenias and more, the Flower Shack has had you gushing over its fresh cuts and fine customer service for years. Add to all that ample parking and a willingness to work within your budget, and it’s no wonder it’s grown into your preferred business where you stop and smell the … flowers. Quick Bit: The current best-selling flower is the local protea from Soquel’s Meristem Farm.  | LK
Ferrari’s, Suzi’s Flowers, Bonny Doon Flowers

Not only aesthetically pleasing, but eco-friendly, SC41 is a pretty accurate reflection of Santa Cruz itself. Their aim is comfort, both of body and mind. They take into account when ordering merchandise the social equity of all involved in its production. Their furniture is made from sustainable harvested wood and nontoxic finishes. It is upholstered with sustainable and organically produced, low-impact dyed fabrics. Their ergonomic mattresses contour to fit the body. Their furnishings range from antique styles to bedroom decor made from bamboo. They even offer organic bedding. It’s no wonder our readers love them.
QUICK BIT: Offers an "oxygen pillow" because healthy breathing is the single most important factor during sleep.  | AS
Sweet’s in the Nude, Couch Potato, Stripe

Garden Supply
Despite some late season rains, it is officially springtime in Santa Cruz. And for many, this time of years equates to gardening. A little digging here, a bit of weed pulling there, and one’s yard can be turned into a verdant outdoor paradise. The Garden Company on Mission Street is your pick for starting the gardening season out right—plants, flowers, trees, gardening gear and outdoor décor are among the many items purveyed.
QUICK BIT: TGCompany is eco friendly and carries a huge variety of organic gardening supplies. | Leslie Patrick
ProBuild Garden Center

Home Decorating, New Business, Unique Gifts
S= Sophisticated. T= Timeless. R= Really Addictive. I= Inspiring. P= Pretty. E= Eclectic. A year ago, Stripe opened in Downtown Santa Cruz on Walnut Avenue, and ever since then, local fashionistas have been flocking to this über appealing clothing/jewelry/homewares store. The shop, helmed by owner Suna Lock and buyer/manager Dana Norrell is ever so chic. Think of Anthropologie with a more independent influence, combined with a modern flair, and a vintage twist, and you’ve got Stripe. This store is here to stay. Amidst a tumultuous economy, Lock believed in her concept strongly enough to open a new store. And Santa Cruzans are excited about all the offerings inside Stripe’s visually stunning walls. You can easily spend 30 minutes browsing through the store and finding unique treasures in every nook—things like rustic wood picture frames sit under a table, a perfectly crafted bird candle is in a corner, vintage necklaces hang enticingly, warm, chunky sweaters are draped over a couch, gorgeous shoes kick back waiting for you to try them on, local shirts from Lex Designs beckon you to their racks, utilitarian handbags by local brand Nuala hang on mannequins, original cards line a wall, and so the display of goods goes, around and around the store. Think of Stripe as whetting your visual appetite—you can buy an affordable gift for someone’s birthday, pick up a Mother’s Day present, find a treat for yourself, and if you shop on Tuesday, just say, “I heart Santa Cruz” and you might get 20 percent off your order. There’s no other place like Stripe in Santa Cruz, so cheers to a one-year anniversary, and cheers to making our wallets bow to you, dear Stripe. QUICK BIT: Stripe's collective staff background is international: London, California, New York, Vietnam, Mexico City, Paris. | CM
Runners-up (Decorating) Saffron & Genevieve, Modern Life, Outside In
(New Business) Nourish, Satellite Telework, Motiv  (Unique Gifts) Artisans, Saffron & Genevieve, Paper Vision

Hair Salon
Voted Best of Santa Cruz for the second year in a row, L’Atelier continues to capture your intrigue. Its airy, loft-like space in Downtown Santa Cruz’s Pearl Alley is illuminated with soft, natural light—ideal for viewing the results of your new ‘do. Owner Jenna McClure and the crew of stylists that work at L’Atelier are truly dedicated to ensuring that each client’s personal sense of style is enhanced to the highest degree. Other things to know: L’Atelier is a full service salon that provides haircuts for men, women and children, highlights, lash and brow tints and special occasion updos. Also available are make up application and massage therapy to ensure that you will be well groomed and relaxed from head to toe upon stepping out the doors of L’Atelier. Better still is the salon’s dedication to preserving the environment. Post-consumer recycled paper, compact fluorescent light bulbs, organic products and sustainably harvested bamboo flooring are a mere smattering of what McClure has done to create a beautiful space in which to beautify clients. QUICK BIT: The Monterey Green Business Program has certified L’Atelier Salon as a green business. | LP
Runners-up Lavish, Urban Groove, Katwalk

best7_shop_Dell WilliamsDELL WILLIAMS
Since 1927, Dell Williams Jewelers has been a part of all manner of special occasions that take place in Santa Cruz. From sunset engagements on the beach to 50th birthday dinners at Shadowbrook, a special piece of jewelry from Dell Williams is oftentimes involved. Purveying a cornucopia of fine jewelry including diamond engagement rings, wedding bands, pearls, watches and earrings. Guys take note. Have the expert staff assist you in picking out that perfect gift for your sweetheart, and then watch her heart melt with happiness as she opens the box. QUICK BIT: The largest pearl ever found weighs 14 pounds. | LP
Runners-up The Vault, Artisans, Stripe

Kitchen Store
Even those not trained at Le Cordon Bleu know the importance of working with proper kitchen utensils. Sharp knives, non-stick pans and various other kitchen accoutrements can mean the difference between a four-star meal and one that is rather sub par. In Santa Cruz, both novice and professional chefs alike choose to purchase their kitchenware at Chef Works. This downtown destination stocks a kaleidoscopic array of cookware, bakeware, mixers, knives, espresso machines, utensils—if it can be found in a kitchen, you can bet that Chef Works will carry it. QUICK BIT: True, the first cookie cutters date back to 7th century Persia, but you can nab a modern one here for $1.50. | LP
Outside In, Bed Bath & Beyond, Santa Cruz Kitchen & Bath

Ultramat is just what it sounds like. It is the only laundromat/cafe combination in town. Locally owned for 20 years now, the positive vibe and healthy flow of students coming in keep things hopping—most of the students can be found studying with the advantage of a free WiFi connection. Meanwhile, backpacking travelers read or chat.  QUICK BIT: Ultramat also offers a same-day, 24-hour wash, dry and fold service. | AS
Seabright, Surf City Suds, Eastcliff Village

Musical Instruments
SYLVAN MUSICBestOof2010icon
Does the feel of a handcrafted guitar in your hands make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Because that is how it makes Al Markasky—instrument maker extraordinaire and owner of Sylvan Music—feel. Markasky learned to build guitars in the early 1980s and then chose to turn his passion into a profession. Sylvan Music opened its doors in ’84, and has been the local mecca for Santa Cruz music makers ever since. In addition to guitars of all sorts, the store stocks a variety of brass instruments, mandolins, banjos, violins and woodwind instruments. Rock on. QUICK BIT: The Vintage Room at Sylvan Music stocks a revolving display of instruments from decades long past. | LP
Runners-up Starving Musician, Union Grove, Thomas Musical

Pet Store
PET PALSBestOof2010icon
This discount pet store offers treats to delight furry and feathered friends alike, at very doable prices. They carry high-end brands, and their employees seem to be true animal lovers. Their website is efficient and they work to ship orders out as quickly as they are placed. QUICK BIT: And to ensure that you will bring home the right treats, your pets are encouraged to come inside the store and help you shop. | AS
Pe tSmart, Aptos Feed, Trop Aquarium

Anyone over the age of 50 will remember the concept of the typical neighborhood pharmacy. Dapper looking pharmacists in crisp white lab coats bustled to and fro filling prescriptions, answering questions, and genuinely caring about the health of their customers. Although there are many big box stores now competing with the family-owned pharmacies of yore, Santa Cruzans still prefer the friendly service of Westside Pharmacy. Not only are the pharmacists here incredibly knowledgeable, but they will ensure your prescriptions are filled quickly and accurately. While you wait, browsing the quirky array of tchotchkes the pharmacy stocks is always fun. QUICK BIT: Westside Pharmacy offers free delivery on the Westside. | LP
Horsnyders, Frank’s Pharmacy

Photo Developing
BAY PHOTOBestOof2010icon
Although the business began before the digital age started taking over the world, Bay Photo has quickly and successfully embraced the newfangled technology with open arms. So whether you have a retro film camera or a digital contraption, Bay Photo has got you covered. In addition to the typical photo developing, Bay Photo offers myriad of unique products to give as gifts or to spruce up your home—canvas prints, photo cards and books and web gallery services are just the tip of the iceberg.  QUICK BIT: In 1837, Louis Daguerre invented the first large scale commercial photographic process, called Daguerreotypes. | LP
Runner-up Costco

Record Store
Sure you can go online at midnight and download songs from iTunes, but there is nothing better than leisurely perusing the sea of CDs and records on display at a brick and mortar music store. Santa Cruz melomaniacs have a particular penchant for Streetlight, which remains settled quite nicely on Pacific Avenue in Downtown Santa Cruz. Rows and rows of albums by bands and singers past and present commingle to create an out of this world selection. QUICK BIT: Streetlight also offers a cool trade in option that allows you to swap old CDs for new ones. | LP
Runners-up Logos, Metamusic, Borders

Second-hand Selling
Well integrated into the community, the store is also known to host the occasional art show and often display locally crafted art in its front windows. Shopping there, you almost forget you are in a second-hand store. That is until you reach the register and your wallet smiles with delight. QUICK BIT: Has a career center to assist those in need with their job search. | AS
Runners-up Crossroads, Logos, Twist

Shoe Shop
BUNNYS SHOESBestOof2010icon
On any given day Bunnys Shoes is swarming with women raring to fling off their sandals, sneakers and stilettos, and step into a shiny new pair. Like sweet honey to lure in the women of Santa Cruz, the shop displays a daily sales rack out front that boasts discounts galore. Bunny, the owner, often works side by side with her team of vivacious staffers. As their husbands wander across the shop’s entryway into the neighboring Hat Company of Santa Cruz, women circle the store, wide eyed, to ogle the unique colors and designs of footwear. QUICK BIT: You can find up to 75 percent discounts here. | AS
Runners-up Sockshop Santa Cruz, Old School, Aptos Shoes & Apparel

Skateboard Shop
It doesn’t hurt that the owner of this booming enterprise is also a philanthropist. That would be Mr. Danny Keith, voted Best Local Hero. For SCSS, not only has offered a fine 41st Avenue spot for the best skate products around, but he’s created somewhat of a creative lair for young teens—and others—who dig the shop’s vibe and can just safely chill in a welcoming environment. QUICK BIT: Well, the time was coming—Scotts Valley’s Whagaa Softwware teamed with SCSS to launch the first instructional and GPS enabled mobile skateboarding app. It’s dubbed GoLearn Skateboarding. | Greg Archer
Runners-up Bill’s Wheels, Santa Cruz Boardroom, Skateworks

Smoke Shop
Santa Cruz has been getting high with a little help from its friends at Pipeline since 1978, when the store first opened its doors and established itself as a beacon of high-quality glassware. Through the store’s front room, where you’ll see college kids investing in Bob Marley and Scarface posters for their dorm rooms, and past an “18 and Over Only” sign, is the heart of the store: the legendary backroom, where case upon case of glimmering glass masterpieces await a new owner. Most of the glassware (including pipes, bubblers, bongs, and more) is blown locally—some is even blown in-store. The backroom also offers a large selection of hookahs and, one of their best-selling items, vaporizors. But what really sets them apart from other head shops in town is the über-friendly service—whether you’re a college student looking to impress your buddies with the biggest and baddest bong or a middle-aged newbie toker, the employees will answer all of your questions and engage in fun conversation. QUICK BIT: Two cats, named Nova and Meowich, call Pipeline home. | EL
Runners-up Glassroots, Ron & Bridgette’s, Irie Motivations

Sports Store
JERRY'S SPORTSBestOof2010icon
Hitting one out of the park, Jerry’s Sports nabbed your votes for Best Sports Store, and it’s no wonder why. The premier locale to suit up or get the set-up for your favorite athletic pastime, Jerry’s caters to every member of the active family—from pint-size little leaguer to veteran golfer to yoga guru and everything in between. The sports outlet even had enough balls to move into the spacious building that used to house the Harley-Davidson shop last year, returning to its original Seabright neighborhood. For customer service and athlete expertise, who you gonna call? Jerry’s. QUICK BIT: The top-selling ball is the baseball. | LK
Runners-up Outdoor World, Play It Again Sports, Big 5

Tanning Salon
TANNERS COVEBestOof2010icon
Can’t afford an extended vacation to Tahiti to transform your pasty winter skin into glimmering golden perfection? Then just get your booty over to one of the four Tanner’s Cove locations (Capitola, Scotts Valley, Watsonville or Salinas): Much closer than a flight to the South Pacific yet with the same end result—sun kissed perfection. QUICK BIT: The airbrush tanning concept was invented in 1997. Bye bye skin cancer. | CP
Paradise Tanning, Tan Line, Tradewinds

Tattoo Parlor
On my 18th birthday I found myself in Staircase Tattoo and Body Piercing getting a long metal barbell punched through my ear cartilage (an “Industrial” piercing, in technical terms). A few months later I was there again, this time with a metal clamp on my tongue and giant needle headed straight for the poor muscle. Let’s just say Staircase had become my favorite place to help me piss off my parents—as I’m sure it has aided so many rebellious youth with a hankering for body modification. However, the go-to spot is also a reputable, longstanding local establishment known for high-quality service, talented tattoo artists and a clean environment. As any local could tell you, it’s the premier spot to get inked. Now in two locations (the iconic Ocean Street studio and a new, smaller studio just a few blocks from the Boardwalk on Front Street), Santa Cruzans have even more of a reason to stop in Staircase—even if it’s just to check out the great selection of body jewelry.
QUICK BIT: The name “Staircase” came about when it was revealed that the parlor’s original location was formerly the home of an illegal brothel called Staircase Massage. “After some investigation to find out if that were in fact true, how could we not call our studio Staircase Tattoo and Body Piercing?!” says owner James McDermott. | EL
Runners-up FU Tattoo, Love Dog, Chimera

Toys & Games
Kaliedoscope’s “birthday wish wagon” turns heads here. Before a child’s birthday, parents are encouraged to bring them in and ask them to fill up the birthday wish wagon with everything they would like to get in the store. The store then registers the child’s birthday wishes under his or her name, and voila!—birthday gifting made easy. Now, that’s the best. QUICK BIT: Kaliedoscope calls itself the “parent teacher store,” and has provided teaching supplies and educational toys since 1974. | AS
Runners-up ToysR Us, Game A Lot, Lolly Tree

Vintage Clothes Store
Moonzoom is a thrift store junkie’s paradise. Big and brimming over with vintage scores, eclectic threads, crazy costumes and the oddest of ends, the shop never disappoints—that is so long as you’re willing to do some serious hunting. So roll up those sleeves, take a deep breath of dusty vintage air, and dive right in: the perfect retro ensemble, Burning Man digs or Halloween costume await your discovery. QUICK BIT: Halloween shopping hint from the owner: hit up Moonzoom in the first week of October before all the good costumes are gone!  | EL
Runners-up Stripe, Goodwill, Cognito

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