Best Shops

BestOf2012 starSHOPS

Adult Store:Pure Pleasure
Antiques:Mr. Goodies
Arts & Crafts:Palace Art
Auto (New):Toyota Of Santa Cruz
Auto (Used):Ocean Honda
Auto Repair:Specialized Auto    
Bank (local):Bay Federal  
Bicycle Shop:The Bicycle Trip

Bookstore:Bookshop Santa Cruz
Butcher Shop:Shopper’s Corner
Car Wash:Whalers Car Wash
Carpet Cleaning:Connoisseur Carpet
Clothing (Children’s):Hopscotch
Clothing (Lingerie):Camouflage
Clothing (Men’s):Patrick James
Clothing (Women’s):Pacific Trading Co.
Computer Service:Dave’s
Comic Book Store:Atlantis Fantasy World
Credit Union:Bay Federal    
Dry Cleaners:Vapor
Eyewear:Eye Q
Flooring:Interior Vision
Florist:The Flower Shack
Garden Supply:The Garden Company
Hair Salon:L’Atelier Salon    
Home Decorating:Stripe
Jewelry:Dell Williams
Kitchen Store:Chefworks
Laundromat:Seabright Laundromat
Musical Instruments:Sylvan Music
New Business:Vice Salon
Nail Salon:Vice Salon
Nursery:The Garden Company
Pet Store:Pet Pals
Pharmacy:Westside Pharmacy     
Photo Developing:Bay Photo Lab
Record Store:Streetlight
Second-hand Selling:Goodwill
Shoe Shop (Women):Bunny’s Shoes
Shoe Shop (Men):Sock Shop
Skateboard Shop:Bill’s Wheels
Smoke Shop:Pipeline
Sporting Goods Store:Jerry’s Sports
Surfboard Shop:O’Neill
Tanning Salon:Paradise
Tattoo Parlor:Staircase
Unique Gifts:Stripe
Vintage Clothes Store:Moon Zoom

Adult Store:Pure Pleasure
The mother-daughter team at Pure Pleasure wants to educate you on play—and how you can transform your life through sex positivity. Staffed by certified sex-educators, the store aims to offer more than the every-day vibrator, providing the community with brain (and body!) stimulating lectures on anything from sexual spirituality to bondage to animal role-play. Best of all, classes teach you how to use the toys you weren’t sure where to start with. The shop caters to a variety of sexual lifestyles, including virgins, carrying everything from fantasy door swings to deceivingly innocent aphrodisiac lip gloss. Pure Pleasure strives to be a safe space for individuals interested in learning how to love the human body and spirit. Take note: The store carries vegan-friendly products. Visit 204 Church St., Santa Cruz. Call 466-9870 or click purepleasureshop.com. | Neha Telreja
Runners-up Camouflage, Frenchy’s

Antiques Store:Mr. Goodie’s
Still your favorite—year after year. Make that more than 20, in fact. No doubt the owners’ passion to house everything from unique pocket watches to some wildly fascinating antiques and home appliances, make this store more lively than others. It’s good to know Goodies is still “good.” 1541 Pacific Ave., Ste. A, Santa Cruz, 427-9997. | Charlie Price
Runners-up Saffron and Genevieve, Center Street, La Sirena

Arts & Crafts:Palace Stationery
From its fine pens to exquisite paper and craft items, what’s not to like. Diversity is key here and so, too, is the vast amount of products in Palace Art. One suspects that after being around for more than 60 years, these folks know what they are doing. So, keep stopping by—for those organizers, art supplies and more. Our favorites: the unique photo albums and boxes on hand. Oh, and kudos Palace for some creative work in your window designs. Visit 1407 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 427-1550; 1501-K 41st Ave., Capitola
464-2700, gopalace.com. | Charlie Price
Runners-up Beverly’s, Lenz

Auto (New):Toyota of Santa Cruz
Trucks and cars and eco-efficient hybrids. Yes, you still enjoy purchasing all that, and more, at Toyota Santa Cruz. A numerous winner in this category, Toyota of Santa Cruz wins points for its  Internet specials. Log onto its website and find the coupons. VIsit 4200 Auto Plaza Drive, Capitola, 462-4200, Trucks, cars, hybrids in Santa Cruz at santacruztoyota.com. | CP
Runners-up Ocean Honda, Subaru of Santa Cruz

Auto (Used):Ocean Honda
Good news. You can still shop online for any pre-owned car. Ocean stands out for how many vehicles it has in stock, so variety factors into its popularity here. Check out oceanhondasantacruz.com or visit 3801 Soquel Drive, Soquel,
(866) 499-7995. | CP
Runners-up Toyota of Santa Cruz, Beach Auto

Auto Repair:Specialized Auto
Specialized services include just about everything: maintenance, mufflers, diagnostics, transmission, brakes, inspection, engine repair/replacement, suspension, and even tires, which you won’t get at most shops. As if that were not enough, their “free courtesy shuttle” will drive you home and pick you up while they service your car. And the cherry on top is the free hand-wash for every car that comes through. Thing To Know: Owner Bob Emmert started the business in a junkyard in 1994, and built the current facility, which is now 100 percent solar-powered in 2000. Visit 2415 Chanticleer Ave., Santa Cruz. Call 536-7741 or click specializedautos.com | Coe Holtaway
Runners-up Waterstar Motors, DMV Clinic

Bank:Bay Federal Credit Union
Still going strong after 50 years, Bay Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative that operates under the philosophy of “people helping people”, a dictum that earns its sincerity because the institution is owned by account holders. The bank provides personal and banking services, competitive savings yields, low loan rates, and many low and no-cost services. In addition, deposits are federally insured to at least $250,000 per account. Take note: The bank’s board of directors is made up of unpaid volunteers. Visit 420 River St., Santa Cruz. Call 479-6000 or visit bayfed.com. | Mark Davey
Runners-up (Bank) Santa Cruz County Bank, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union
Runner-up (Credit Union) Santa Cruz Community Credit Union

bo shop oneill-leadBeachwear / Surf Shop / Surfboard shop:O’Neill
At 60 years of age, O’Neill is now a global brand that sponsors major surf competitions around the world, yet despite that international recognition, their shops still feel local because, well, it is. Born and raised in Santa Cruz, the company develops and tests its own surf technology and gear, with a team composed of experts in various aspects of the industry. Their shops are stocked with any gear, accessories, sportswear, or footwear you could possibly need or want, and a knowledgeable staff with a laid-back attitude to help you out. Take note: Jack O’Neill, the CEO and founder of the company, created a free educational program that puts kids on the company catamaran to look at microbiology in the Monterey Bay. Flagship shop is at 1115 41st Ave., Capitola. Call 475-4151 or click oneill.com. | MD
Runners-up (Beachwear) Pacific Wave, Santa Cruz Surf and Skate
Runners-up (Surf Shop) Freeline Surf Shop, Santa Cruz Surf and Skate
Runners-up (Surfboard) Freeline Surf Shop, Santa Cruz Surf

bo shop biketripBicycles / Bicycle Shop:Bicycle Trip
Billed as the “friendliest bike shop in Santa Cruz,” Bicycle Trip is the best of both worlds: locally owned and operated, but teamed up with industry powerhouses to supply their customers. Not only does the shop want to help its customers, it hopes to educate them as well, offering a bike maintenance class and a bike safety program called “Bike Smart.” Their website also offers many “how-to’s”, but if you can’t fix it yourself, trust your bike to the shop’s service department, where they won’t make fun of you for having a lame bike. They’ll have you on your way in no time, and even provide you with a map of places to ride. Take note: The shop services somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 bikes each year. Visit 1001 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Call 427-2580 or click bicycletrip.com. | MD
Runners-up Family Cycling, Spokesman

Bookstore:Bookshop Santa Cruz
This is the place we flocked to for our copies of “Harry Potter” and the Sorcerer’s Stone (the shop’s all-time best-selling book), and where we have assembled for delectable evenings with authors from Stephen King to David Sedaris. (It is also apparently where some kleptomaniacs get their Bibles—which the store says is its most commonly shoplifted item…) We locals also adore Bookshop for its distinctly Santa Cruz flavor. What other bookstore—chain or independent—would pull such progressive pranks as weighing Rush Limbaugh’s book and selling it for the price of baloney, or giving away complimentary airplane barf bags with the purchase of the Time magazine that featured Newt Gingrich as Man of the Year? (There were also the George Bush Countdown Clocks, which they sold an astounding 60,000 of.) Bookshop’s rich local history, irreplaceable vibe, and 61,000 books on site bring to mind something author and humorist Jim Hightower once said of the store: “If books have souls (and I believe they do), then Bookshop Santa Cruz would be their heaven.” 1520 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-0900, bookshopsantacruz.com. | Elizabeth Limbach
Runners-up Capitola Book Café, Literary Guillotine

Butcher:Shopper’s Corner (See Food & Drink)

Car Wash:Whalers Car Wash
In keeping with the city’s tradition of environmental consciousness, Whalers was one of the first in the region to implement a water reclamation and recycling system, which saves an estimated 100 gallons per wash. Whaler’s continues to go above and beyond environmental standards in the industry by utilizing eco-friendly soaps and water soluble fluids in their services. That’s just one perk. Take note of the different services and packages offered here. Manager Nicole Steen says that the secret to their success is simple “Quality.” Things to note: Whalers will usually service cars returning from Burning Man for a small extra fee, but make sure you flash a big smile before you ask because it is up to their personal discretion. Beyond that, it performs an astounding 100,000 washes a year. Visit 2001 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Call 423-0676 or click whalerscarwash.com. | Coe Holtaway
Runners-up Cruz Car Wash, Master Car Wash

Carpet Cleaning:Connoisseur
Husband-and-wife owners Mike and Paula Pailliotet began Connoisseur in May 2001, but Mike realized his genuine love of cleaning carpets back in 1987, while working for a large company in the Los Angeles area. Now he and Paula run a family business that includes their son Davis, who is one of their two technicians, along with Clayton Knipe. Their website offers handy self-help spot-cleaning guides for all floor types, but when it comes to more extensive jobs that require professional help, Connoisseur specializes in carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, area rug cleaning, and tile, stone, and grout cleaning. Take note: While they do several types of carpet cleaning, they say their wet cleaning will dry faster than the dry cleaning of most of their competitors. Visit 2888 Estates Dr., Aptos. Call 476-9721 or click santacruzclean.com. | MD
Runners-up On the Spot, Quality Carpet

Chocolatier:Donnelly Chocolates
For almost 25 years, founder Richard Donnelly and his staff have been crafting Mr. Donnelly’s unique European- and American-style chocolates.  Donnelly is classically trained in the traditional methods of French and Belgium chocolate-making, but his recipes include many elements of American-style chocolate making to create the most outrageous of flavors. The Sea-Salt Carmels as well as the Honey Vanilla Chocolates are some of the most popular and bestselling items and a great example of this fusion between American and European traditions. Donnelly’s also serves their version of popular American candy bars, such as Snickers bars and Reese’s Cups, and now boasts their own Malabar bar. Something fun: Donnelly teaches two classes on the first and third Friday of every month—an introductory course on working with chocolates and a course in truffle production. Visit 1509 Mission St., Santa Cruz. Call 685-1871 or click
donnellychocolates.com. | CH
Runners-up McKenzies, Chocolate (Santa Cruz)

BestOf2012 star-insideClothing (Children’s):Hopscotch
This unique children’s clothing boutique wins points for its creativity and diverse selections. Take note of its fine toy selection and array of clothing for teens, too, which are more impressive than what you would find in chain stores. Visit 8061 Valencia Street, Aptos. Call 662-2748.
Runners-up The Little People Store, Jellie Beans

Clothing (Lingerie):Camouflage
When you walk into Camouflage, scour the front room for Halloween, Valentine’s Day, or every day role-play costumes and lingerie, but certainly don’t stop there. Veteran customers of this 30-plus year store know the back room is another hot spot—where knowledgeable employees can tell you about all their toys and potions in enough detail to send you home hot and bothered with something new to play with. Other back room gems include art and pin-ups for the more playful coffee table owner, as well as some educational literature that might be better off perused in the bedroom. Visit 1329 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Call 423-7613 or click shopcamouflage.com. | NT
Runners-up Amoureuse, Legs

Clothing (Women’s):Pacific Trading Company
Don’t dismiss Pacific Trading Co. as another kitschy downtown tourist trap; their window displays invite in a more style-conscious clientele looking for wardrobe staples that stay California Classic. Pieces are carefully selected from brands like Free People, James Perse, and Sanctuary to offer a good balance between hippie-chic knit wear and well-tailored clean lines. Not quite in the market for upscale pricing? The boutique maintains a treasure chest of a sale rack, a whole section of sleep tanks and lingerie in the back, and the real steal: a whole array of beautiful, timeless jewelry based on silvery tones and marbled stones. 1224 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-3349. | NT
Runners-up Stripe, Pretty Mama’s

Clothing (Men):Patrick James
OK, men. You may not actually be Daniel Craig, dashing about the world foiling evil spies and drinking martinis in smoky casinos—but you can dress like him. Patrick James offers the men of Santa Cruz its own brand of impeccable style deemed “west coast classic” enabling the store to win Best Men’s Clothing yet again. Although the brand’s first store opened in Fresno in 1962, it quickly gleaned a following and now offers 15 West Coast locations, including the one in our very own Aptos. Patrick James purveys dress shirts, slacks, suits, casual attire, accessories … everything you need for work and play. So even if you change jobs to say, a spy, if you shop at Patrick James, at least you won’t have to change your wardrobe. Visit 7538 Soquel Drive, Apros. Click patrickjames.com. | LP
Runners-up Stripe, Men’s Wearhouse

Comic Book Store:Atlantis Fantasy World
Last year it celebrated its 35th anniversary. This year … well, it’s still your favorite. Among the huge array of comic books here, you can also partake in a several of Atlantis’ special events. Check out Free Comic Book Day on May 5—a variety of free comics are yours for the taking. And then there’s the store’s sponsorship of the popular Flashback Film series at the Cinema 9 on Thursdays. Upcoming notables: High Noon (May 17); You Can’t Taker It With You (May 24) and The Untouchables (May 31). Dive into the fun at 1020 Cedar St. 426-0158 atlantisfantasyworld.com. | CP
Runner-up Comicopolis

Computer Service:Dave’s Computer Services
Back in 1990, Dave’s Computers was launched by Dave and his friend Phil and 10 years later, it became authorized to repair Apple products. Take note: Service calls in Santa Cruz County are free. There’s also a stellar student and teacher discounts. Still one of the best. Visit 740 Front St. Call 458-1131 or visit davescomputer.net. | CP
Runners-up Click-Away, User Friendly

Dry Cleaners:Vapor
Vapor is iconic. Its shop first opened in 1912. Now, owner Chris Peoples adds a touch of environmental friendliness. Back in 2008, he installed solar panels in 2008, thereby making Vapor one of the most energy efficient cleaning service in the area. Beyond that, the service and attention to detail rock. Visit 285 Water St., Santa Cruz. Call 423-4646 | CP
Runners-up John Ribera, Surf City Plumbing

Eyewear:Eye Q
Eye Qers Daniel Shen, Stephanie Kaye Krok, and Noel Krok continue to win you over here. Stellar service is aplenty here, but locals appreciate that the doc offer complimentary frame adjustments and repairs. Our recent visit/exam was extensive and full of special care. It seems the folks operating Eye Q value customer services, which is a dying art form. Nice to see it in full bloom—and view—here. Visit 1101 Pacific Ave. Suite E, Santa Cruz. Call 466-3937 or click eyeqsantacruz.com. | CP
Runners-up Plaza Lane, Insight Eyecare

Flooring:Interior Vision
With a full-service showroom and a list of flooring options extensive enough to satisfy any flooring urge, Interior Vision makes home renovation a little bit easier. After all, once the floor is done, you can just work from the ground up. Owner Deborah Cypert gets that flooring related decisions might not come naturally to everyone, and she’s there to help. “Let me help you with some of the most confusing decisions you will ever have to make,” quips Cypert on her website. Whether it’s a wool carpet or an exotic bamboo floor, Interior Vision has an eye for helping their customers get through some truly foundational projects. Visit
2800 Daubenbiss Ave, Soquel. Call 476 8780. | Emiliano Vazquez
Runners-up San Lorenzo Floors, Rainbow Carpet

Florist:Flower Shack
To the proteas, the dahlias, the roses, the sunflowers, The Flower Shack has the back of any romantic trying to find a bouquet for their love, to someone planning a wedding. Providing Santa Cruz with the most impressive, colorful and expertly put together selection for over 20 years, The Flower Shack also offers jewelry, mosaics, and gifts made by local artists. Nestled between The Buttery and Shopper’s Corner, this quaint little shack is sure to delight any patron with their friendly and helpful staff and unique selection. Thing To Know: On a mission to be environmentally friendly, The Flower Shack reuses jars that are donated by their customers. If you return them, they will give you store credit. 614 S. Branciforte Ave., Santa Cruz,
423-3877. | JS
Runners-up Suzie’s Flowers, Boulder Creek Flowers

bo shop sc41Furniture:SC41
Bringing together style, eco-friendliness and affordability all in one store, SC41 furniture is the place to furnish an environmentally conscious home. Offering organic, hypoallergenic, and latex mattresses, bedding and quality sustainably- made products that last a lifetime, SC41 is clearly in the ‘green’ retailing business. Their collection is made up of contemporary, antique and minimalist styles including pieces for the dining room and office, sofas, ottomans, bedroom sets and organic bedding and linens, the list goes on. Their commitment to sustainable harvested wood, nontoxic finishes and low impact dyed fabrics on upholstery, is complimented by their commitment to the community. Take note: SC41 is always choosing to support local companies and products. Visit 2647 41st Ave., Soquel. Call 464-2228; 1505 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz, 476-0113, sc41.com. | JS
Runners-up Sweets in the Nude, Couch Potato

bo shop gardencoGarden Supply / Nursery:The Garden Company
Whether you’re green-thumb-challenged or an old hand at turning mulch, The Garden Company has what you need to get your foot in the garden gate—and the nursery. Racking up two awards this year, we found that locals appreciate quite a bit here—even the gift shop where you can pick up some tea. With a free email newsletter that details seasonal projects and events listings for the more dedicated gardener (complete with nature-y quotes from luminaries like Henry David Thoreau for a little added culture), The Garden Company definitely deserves its spot in the sun. Or partial shade. Visit 2218 Mission St., Santa Cruz. Call 429 8424. | EV
Runners-up (Garden Supply) Dig Garden, Mountain Feed and Farm
Runners-up (Nursery) Far West Nursery, Alladin Nursery

Hair Salon:L’Atellier Salon
Another year, another win. What stands out here is how well owner Jenna McClure has managed to balance the expertise of her staff with some original business savvy. Walk by, or take a peek online and you’ll find some special deal being offered. A great line of hair care and other beauty products doesn’t hurt either. And, now that First Friday is such a hit, you can often find the Salon hosting local artists for that festive evening, too. Something new: L’Atellier Day Spa, which garnered plenty of your votes too. It’s nice to have these folks around—for plenty of pampering. Visit 114 Pearl Alley, Santa Cruz. Call 423-4247 or click lateliersalon.com. | CP
Runners-up Vice Salon, Elements

Home Decorating / Unique Gifts:Stripe
You know the curiosity shops of old? The ones that are spelled shoppe, run by wise old men with frazzled white hair and always seem to have the most whimsically unusual trinkets and gewgaws displayed appealingly like so many truffles in a confectioner’s window? Stripe in Downtown Santa Cruz is a little like that. Maybe not so much the grizzled old man part, but the part where unique knickknacks draw you in and you want to buy everything you see. With a well-edited mixture of baubles, candles, and other decorative accoutrements—big and smalle—Stripe remains the go-to spot for locals looking for something more creative for their home decorating needs. Stellar gifts are aplenty here. Keep perusing. And to the ladies operating this unique hotspot—Suna Lock and Dana Norrell—good job on keeping the store’s look and inventory always “fresh.” Visit 107 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 421-9252, stripedesigngroup.com. | LP
Runners-up (Home Decorating) Warmth Company, Saffron and Gennieve
Runners-up (Unique Gifts) Artisans Gallery, Zinnias

Jewelry:Dell Williams
The popular Downtown Santa Cruz, family-owned portal, which has been going strong now since 1927, also boasts some super jewelry repair, in addition to the amazing jewelry on hand. Locals appreciate the variety—from the many diamonds on hand to some notable pearls. The fine china or silver tabletop items also stand out. The perfect local spot for choosing wedding rings, or just that special something for that special someone. 1320 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz; 423-4100;
dellwilliams.com. | JB
Runners-up Judy Wyatt, Aptos Jewelry

Kitchen Store:Chefworks
Chefworks is a toy store for any adult and a Mecca for the culinary inclined. Carefully organized to fit the stores extensive inventory, it carries every kind of machine, utensil, tool and accessory for the kitchen. Locally owned and operated, locals admire the high-quality goods. Something interesting: Each year representatives from Chefworks attend the famous Chicago Trade Show and gather the latest tools and technologies from around the world and add them to their inventory. This year’s bestselling item was the “MicroPlane” zester and grater, but the staff recommends new shoppers to try the seemingly quirky Poach-Pod to produce restaurant quality poached eggs from home. Chefworks keeps customers coming back because of its warm atmosphere, enjoyable staff and a guarantee that patrons will find what they are looking for at a fair price. Take note: Along with offering gift wrapping for most items, Chefworks offers gift registry for weddings and other events. Visit 1527 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Call 426-1351 or click chefworks-santacruz.com. | CH
Runners-up Outside In, Le Chef

Laundromat:Seabright Laundromat
Oh, you do love Seabright. Maybe it’s the large front-loader washing machines or the dryers, which, surprisingly, always seem to be available—at least one, anyway, on a busy day. All that and free wi-fi continue to make this your favorite winner. Take this down: The laundromat has an on-site attendant weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and free coffee is served for the early morning crowd from 8-11 a.m. Monday-Friday. Visit 419 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz. Call 458-3352. | CP
Runners-up Surf City Suds, Ultramat

Musical Instruments:Sylvan Music
Collecting another win here, you have to wonder what magic lies beyond the front doors. Maybe it’s just the cool vibe. Sylvan is the quintesstional music stop. Its walls are filled with quality guitars and gear. Over the last year, during the ukulele boom—who knew, right?—locals have frequently arrived and inquired about the quirky item. See you in the music aisle. Visit 1521 Mission St., Santa Cruz. Call 427-1917 or click sylvanmusic.com. | CP
Runners-up Starving Musician, Union Grove

bo rest viceNail Salon / New Business:Vice Salon
In the wise words of Missy Elliott: “If you a fly gal get your nails done/ get a pedicure, get your hair did.” And according to this year’s Best Of Santa Cruz poll, there’s no better place to go than Vice. The hip new salon in town came out on top with two coveted awards: Best Nail Salon and Best New Business. Located in the heart of Capitola, Vice Salon has several things going for it: fun music, trendy interior design, a young, energetic staff, and full service pampering. From hair to make-up to waxing to nails, Vice has your back—so make an appointment today and release your inner rock star. Visit 309 Capitola Ave., Capitola. Call 464-1700 or click salonvice.com. | JB
Runners-up (Nails) Tracey’s Salon, L’Atellier
Runners-up (New Business) Pono Hawaiian Grill, Santa Cruz Strength

Pet Store:Pet Pals
Make that Number Seven. This community shop continues to wow you. With more than 17,000 square feet of pet supplies—yeah, that’s a lot—locals appreciate having brands like Nutro, Iams, Natures Variety, Eagle and Natural Balance on hand. Take note of the incredible prices online at westcoastpetsupply.com. Visit 3660 Soquel Dr., Soquel. Call 464-8775. | CP
Runners-up Aptos Feed & Pet Supply, Trop-Aquarium

Pharmacy:Westside Pharmacy
Picture this: You pop into a big, chain pharmacy to grab your prescription, but by the time you hike past miles of shelves stocked with diapers and shampoo, you’ve probably already forgotten what you went there to do in the first place. Not so at Westside Pharmacy. This place, though admittedly old school, is perfect for those who simply want to refill their medication without a fuss. You’ve got the avuncular pharmacist, groovy digs and random tchotchkes to ponder while you wait. Considering that the place has been keeping generations of Santa Cruz residents healthy for decades, when it comes to pharmacies, Westside Pharmacy is the best medicine. Visit 1401 Mission St., Santa Cruz. Call 423-7175. | LP
Runners-up Horsnyder Pharmacy Santa Cruz, Frank’s

Photo Developing:Bay Photo Lab
The answer to Bay Photo Labs success lies in their long history of excellent customer service, convenient location, and affordable prices. Particularly important for this business as of late is their engagement and support of interested photographers in the community. When the economy took a massive downturn in 2008, the photo developing industry was already crippled by the rise of digital photography. This all correlated into a significant loss in sales for the photograph industry. But when others in the industry were closing their doors, years of excellent service were repaid as the clientele stepped up their use of Bay Photo Lab. For burgeoning (film) photographers, Bay Photo Lab’s management urges those with questions to utilize the stores knowledgable staff. Bay Photo is thankful to their solid customer base and feels extremely proud to serve this photographically inclined community. Things to know: Bay Photo allows customers to control the layout, and glossiness of their prints along with offering digital copies and doubles for little to no cost. Visit 715 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz. Call 425-1100 | CH

Record Store:Streetlight Records
If vintage vinyl is what you seek, all signs point to Streetlight Records. The Pacific Avenue haven for music lovers has earned a stellar reputation for its diverse variety of vinyl and CDs—both new and used—it’s friendly staff, and unbeatable prices. In this iTunes era, Santa Cruzans find solace in the laid-back, community atmosphere at Streetlight, where you can spend hours flipping through stacks of music for those rare gems that take us back to our youth. A one-stop shop for jazz, rock, electronica, classical, reggae, blues, and more, with tons of great local music to inspire you. Visit 939 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Call 421-9200 or click streetlightrecords.com. | JB
Runners-up Logo’s, MetaVinyl Records

BestOf2012 star-insideSecond-hand Shop:Goodwill
Goodwill of Santa Cruz keeps its customers coming back by following one rule: Thrift store prices don’t excuse skimping on quality. The store’s located on a quiet street with plenty of parking, contains a plethora of carefully selected goods, and perhaps most importantly (as thrift store veterans unanimously note), stays clean and organized! Without usual thrifting frustrations like seedy residues and impossible piles, you’re more likely to find that regal nightstand or perfect piece of costume jewelry. Besides the usual stock of cheap furniture perfect for college students and influx of books and CDs, this Goodwill can house some unexpected treasures: Both a GAF Viewmaster Projector and a ’20s beaded wedding dress have been reported. Thing to Know: The Goodwill Auxiliary, a group of volunteers, run an in-store boutique where they’ll tell you and sell you the researched history of various antiques over coffee and donuts. Visit 350 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz. Call 423-8611. | NT
Runners-up Crossroads, (Tie) Abbott’s Thrift; Twist

Shoe Shop (Womens):Bunny’s
If her sidewalk display of buttery leather boots and woven wedges doesn’t lure you in, local sole-legend Bunny’s cozy little shop has a loyal clientele to spread the word. Next time you see a pair of Steve Maddens, Jeffrey Campbells, or Seychelles walking around downtown, ask them about Bunny’s. Bunny herself still hangs around her store, with 30-plus years of experience and stories about tending to Santa Cruz’s soles. Visit 1350 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Call 423-3824. | NT
Runners-up Sock Shop, Aptos Shoes, Shoe Fetish

Shoe Shop (Men):Sock Shop
Weather you rockclimb, need a classic penny loafer, or are in the market for the newly popular Five-Finger hiking shoes, the Sock Shop has everything your feet might fancy. Managing Director Richard Ross has developed a special admiration for Sock Shops product and recognizes the special significance of their merchandise. “I always think back to the young men who come into the store and try on their first pair of boots. For me, that is a significant moment in every man’s life.” One employee commented that “people realize that the quality of their footwear is important enough to spend a little extra money, and especially in this economy, it is important to get something that’s going to last.” Something to know: The Five-Finger Shoes are now back in stock after months of being sold out. Visit 1515 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. Call 429-6101 or click sockshopandshoeco.com. | CH
Runners-up Old School, Becks

Skateboard Shop:Bill’s Wheels
For many growing up in Santa Cruz, riding a skateboard is just as natural and necessary as riding a bike. In order to satisfy the community’s consistent need for new equipment, Owner Bill Ackerman very active in the local skate community since the shop’s origins in Salinas in back the early 1970s. In 1996, the first Soquel Avenue storefront opened and Bill’s quickly became an active and inseparable figure within the local skate community. Bill continued the store’s success, even through the mid 2000’s, when a major industry downturn forced a majority of local skate shops into early retirement. Bill admitted that the popularity of the store is largely above and beyond what he had expected when his doors first opened. “The store is bigger than I ever thought it would be, and to finally put all the history on the walls is just amazing,” he says. The secret to Bill’s survival? Good service and product. But here’s another notable: Bill’s contributes to nearly every school auction and fundraiser in the county. He sponsors many aspiring skate pros, promotes regional events, as well as creating his own competitions by turning his parking lot into an occasional skate park. Take note: There’s a new shipment of on longboards and cruisers is just another way Bill’s Wheels helps you float with ease through all of life’s bumpy roads. Visit 1240 Soquel Ave. Santa Cruz. Call 469-0904 or click billswheels.com | CH
Runners-up Santa Cruz Skate and Surf, Santa Cruz Board

Smoke Shop:Pipeline
While many smoke shops open and close with the blink of an eye, Pipeline has stood the test of time with style. Their inventory has changed with the latest fads and technology, but throughout time they have remained committed to purchasing as much glass pieces as possible from local artists. While an abundance of imported cheap Chinese glass threatens to undersell the domestic market, Pipeline maintains that 95 percent of their glass-blown smoking utensils come from the best artists across the West Coast. On top of this, customers have continued to support Pipeline because of their “smoking” prices and helpful staff. Things to know: Health conscious smokers can find a wide selection of vaporizers, such as the ever popular Volcano, which heavily reduces the tar and carcinogens of your tobacco. Visit 818 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz. Call 425-7473 or click pipesinthecity.com. | CH
Runners-up Ron & Bridgett, Ire Motivations

Sporting Goods:Jerry’s Sports
Our favorite sporting goods place caters to seasoned pros, little leaguers, golfers and so many other kinds of sports enthusiasts. (Nice selection of shades here, by the way.) Family-owned, locals seem to also appreciate Jerry’s batting cages, which always lure folks in.  Thing To Know: Truly steeped in the community, Jerry’s supports a wide variety of local athletics here. It recently sponsored of the Nor Cal High School Cycling team. 1148 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 465-1400, shopjerryssports.com. | CP
Runners-up Outdoor World, Play It Again

Tanning Salon:Paradise Tanning
It is not uncommon to see someone, mainly dedicated surfers, rock a dark tan in the depths of winter. Luckily the Paradise Tanning Company is here, racking up another win in this category. Things that stand out: the atmosphere in each room is warm, welcoming and most importantly, clean. New to Paradise Tanning is the ”Mystic Spray” booth and a full line of Bare Essentials Makeup and Jan Martini skincare products. Aside from their good tan, customers recommend Paradise because of the helpful staff and low prices. Take Note: Paradise often offers special deals like its current deal which includes five tans for $25 or fifteen tans for $65. Visit Clares St., Capitola. Call 464-7985. | CH
Runners-up Tradewinds, Glimmer and Glow

Tattoo Parlor:Staircase Tattoo
Some of the area’s best artists are at work here—from Doug, Gio, Tim and Aaron, to Ron and a slew of other pros. The fairly new studio down by the Boardwalk is a hit. But it’s the tats that have put these folks on the map—and keep them there—year after year. Take note: Tribal tattoos are “in” right now. Visit 628 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 425-7644; 52 Front St. Santa Cruz. Call
454-0644 or click staircasetattoo.com. | CP
Runner-up Chimera

Toys & Games:Kaleidoscope
One of my earliest and fondest memories from my childhood was eagerly attending Kaleidoscope’s Thursday night story-telling sessons, where I recall a women with a commanding voice, reading a story to a group of enthralled preschool children. Twenty years later, Kaleidoscope still offers Thursday night story readings and has been expanding the inventory ever since they slipped into a large location years ago. Along with a wide array of teaching supplies and educational toys, Kaleidoscope now offers an extensive inventory of toys that cater to children with disabilities. New research pertaining to the development of children with disabilities, autism, in particular, has kickstarted the development of specialized toys and educational tools to assist children with certain learning impediments. Owner Sheryl Guidera, says she witnesses the importance of their products because “Kids these days are so overstimulated and are a lot sharper kids need to learn social skills through playing games. Being on their parents iPads does not do the same trick.” The dedicated staff, diverse inventory and playful atmosphere make shopping at Kaleidoscope a fun excursion for parents, children and teachers, for which there is always something to inspire and entertain. Take note: Along with story readings on the third Thursday of each month, Kaleidoscope also offers an arts and crafts workshop on the first Saturday of each month. Visit 828 Bay Ave., Capitola. Call 475-0210 or click kaleidoscopetoystore.com. | CH
Runners-up LollyTree, Game A Lot

Vintage Clothes: MoonZoom
The store is a great place to search for pre-made costumes or portions of your homemade costume. Regular customer, Ryan Fry said, “I am not a huge fan of shopping in general, but I always find what I want at MoonZoom. I find a lot of costume ideas there and can spend days just looking around.” For a relatively small storefront, this is a true testament to their inventory, which is always brimming with costumes, vintage clothing and a host of accessories. From a classic ’50s era suit, to the gorilla costume of your dreams, the eye catching and diverse inventory ensures that your entertaining treasure hunt will end in success. Take Note: MoonZoom is one of the only shops in town which offers costume and suit rentals. Visit 813 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Call 423-8500. | CH
Runners-up Cognito, Stripe

Best of Santa Cruz County Index:
| Critics’ Picks | Shops | Food & Drink | Arts & Entertainment | Health & Fitness | Professionals | The Rest |

To Top