Best Independent Bookstore
202 Galisteo St.
It’s hard to forget Collected Works Bookstore old W. San Francisco Street location. The store was intimate, but also cramped. Those crowded days have long passed, as the new, still-downtown location is roomier, homier and sports real furniture in addition to a locally stocked coffee bar. “It’s just a very alive place,” Mary Wolf, one of the owners, tells SFR. Wolf and her mother, Dorothy Massey, are the bookstore’s third owners since it first opened in 1978. “We’ve had school writing groups come in,” Massey adds, “an entire fifth grade class and their parents reading their work.” Since Collected Works moved to the new location last year, the number of events has increased dramatically. “The community is showing great support,” Wolf says. The store has partnered with KSFR, the Santa Fe Farmers Market, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts and more to offer readings, art exhibits and locally minded programs for the community free of charge. At the same time, “We still have very much the same commitment to high quality service,” Massey says. “The primary focus is still on books. We’ve worked very hard to maintain that.”
(Ramón A Lovato)
Garcia Street Books, 376 Garcia St., 986-0151
The Ark Bookstore, 133 Romero St., 988-3709
Best Place to Rent Movies
839 Paseo de Peralta
It’s been a tumultuous year for Video Library, which was notified by its landlord in November that, after 21 years at its E. Marcy Street location, it would have to find new digs. What followed was an exhaustive search for low rent downtown, an effort that was facilitated by Video Library’s many loyal customers. In January, the 29-year-old 10-time Best Of veteran, with the help of its knowledgeable staff (and some more loyal customers), packed up its vast supply of eclectic films and moved a few blocks away to the Harvey Building. Video Library has proved that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger—or at least brighter, cleaner and more modern. According to owner Lisa Harris, the staple plans to “just keep on keepin’ on,” which, for the video library, means constantly looking for “interesting and off-the-wall movies.” Though Harris says most customers are elated by the new location, there are a select few who’ve found reason to grumble. “I did have someone walk up and say, ‘It’s too clean, too bright. You need to funk it up,’” Harris says. “I told the person to give me a year.”
Hastings, DeVargas Center, N. Guadalupe Street and Paseo de Peralta, 988-3973
Casablanca Video, 1935 Warner St., 473-06004601 Airport Road, 438-4422
Best Local Women’s Clothing Store
328 Montezuma Ave.
Cupcake is a little boutique with a lot of heart (in fact, there is a giant heart that reads “love” just above the store’s entrance). Owner Kate Kruger credits the store’s success to a knowledgeable staff that is in-tune with Santa Fe’s market, meaning it carries clothes that are not only fashionable but also practical. “Santa Fe is a pretty casual place,” Kruger says. “You’ve got to be able to walk on gravel, have a dog jump on you.” Kruger considers the clothing to be “fashion forward with a classic twist,” but with a lower price point than other high-end women’s boutiques in town. Be on the lookout as Cupcake launches a web store and celebrates its fifth birthday at the end of the summer, an event sure to be as sweet as the shop’s name.
Maya, 108 Galisteo St., 989-7590
Dust in the Wind, 131 E. Palace Ave., 986-1155
Best Local Men’s Clothing Store
328 S. Guadalupe St.
Have you ever woken up to the sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and seen the vibrant colors go from dark pink to blue to yellow in the wee hours of the morning? Were you compelled to head for the hills and conquer the majestic beauty of those mountains afterward? At Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works, inspiration from the local landscape is essential to fashion. “Our apparel fits with Santa Fe’s casual mountain lifestyle. Santa Fe’s community is incredibly active,” owner F Kent Little says. Part of being in an active community is being able to transition from work to play, and Sangre has us outdoorsy folk covered on that. “Whether you’re going to a business meeting or on a hike, we provide clothes that you can wear to both. That’s where fashion meets function for us,” he says. In addition to giving us fashion-forward and built-to-last clothing, the majority of the apparel, like its most successful brands Patagonia and Nau, is sustainable and made from organic or recycled materials. After shopping at Sangre, our consciences are clean, our clothes look fresh, with just a touch of grit, and the view from wherever we are is sure to be magnificent.
Harrys, 202 Galisteo St., 988-1959
Robert R Bailey, 150 Washington Ave., Ste. 105, 983-8803
Best Local Optical Shop/Dispensary
1521 Fifth St.
It’s very clear that having four eyes is the next stage of evolution; who wouldn’t want to have some of these awesome frames that suit—or even create—every possible mood and style? Over the past year, Acoma Optical became the No. 1 retailer in the country, in part because the poor economy forced a lot of streamlining: new equipment and a remodeled store. All these changes enabled the folks at Acoma to actually reduce prices during a recession. Its lab is the most state-of-the-art in New Mexico, and the precision with which the lenses are ground shows this. For the coming year, there is no place to go but up. Plans are in the works to continue the renovating and seek better equipment and greener laboratory methods.
(Caroline K Gorman)
Eye Associates Optical, 2947 E. Rodeo Park Drive, 995-1001
Santa Fe Optical, 418 Cerrillos Road, 984-9950
Best Consignment/Vintage/Thrift Shop
321 S. Guadalupe St.
Hard times call for penny-pinching. Fortunately, with Doubletake around, the wardrobe doesn’t have to show the scrimping. In fact, in this rough time, Doubletake has seen a dramatic increase in its consignment material, so there’s plenty to be had for less. After all, “people know we sell the same things as the department stores for better value,” Barry Hazen, a longtime employee in charge of the Ranch Gallery, says. Not only value, but also excellent customer service make Doubletake “not a store, but a destination,” according to owner Ken Moore, who notes that sometimes people visiting Santa Fe stop at Doubletake before they stop at their hotel—and actually leave their luggage at the front counter. It’s the combination of everything—thrift, vintage, Western, antique, even folk art—that first attracts people, but it’s the great value that keeps them coming back.
Goodwill, 3060 Cerrillos Road, 424-9726
Act 2, 839-A Paseo de Peralta, 983-8585
Best Store for Children
66 W. Marcy St.
Anyone who likes to complain about “kids these days” and their lack of imagination needs to get down to Toyopolis, pronto, because “childhood is all about whimsy and fun and imagination,” owner Jennifer Forman says. The store reflects this philosophy, with two different sets of fantasy toys (think gladiators, knights in shining armor, centaurs), including the largest distribution of Papo in the country. The French fantasy toys (lots of maidens and white horses) nicely complement the German fantasy toy series by Schleich (dwarves and battle-axes), and both are equally tempting. Also available are the Calico Critters, which include hedgehog and elephant families. In addition to fantasy, the store’s stock is shaped by nostalgia and education. For the former, classic toys, such as tin soldiers and wind-ups, are available. For educational purposes, the store stocks a host of fun science experiments and spatial-orientation-skills builders. For grown-ups, Toyopolis’ staff is well-trained in two crucial respects: knowing what is age-appropriate, and gift wrapping, for those crucial hours pre-Saturday morning birthday party.
Gypsy Baby, 318 S. Guadalupe St., 820-1898
Moon Rabbit Toys, 112 W. San Francisco St., Ste. 212C, 982-9373
Best Local Shoe Store
530 Montezuma Ave.
On Your Feet has been sprinting in style for many years. “It’s nice to be in a place where you love to come to work. We have a great boss who has stuck to her guns and lived by the motto ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ for years now,” employee Judy Salazar says. The store’s staff prides itself on having a fine understanding of its products, through direct communication with the shoe companies and their representatives. “Before we put anything on the shelf, we have to have confidence in the shoes, and we get that by getting educated on the products. We know where they are made and everything,” Salazar says. Another confidence booster for the store is the two-year anniversary this July of the connected children’s store, which gives local youngsters the swagger they need. The store has confidence in the products they deliver, and Santa Feans continue to have confidence about treating their feet to On Your Feet’s sleek, sexy and comfy kicks.
Goler Fine Imported Shoes, 125 E. Palace Ave., Ste. 125, 982-0924
Running Hub, 527 W. Cordova Road, 820-2523
Best Local Gardening Store
2904 Rufina St.
If there were seven wonders of Cerrillos Road and the surrounding area, Santa Fe Greenhouses would be equivalent to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Alhambra combined into one. The 6-acre wonder hosts rows and rows of vegetation, sprawling gardens complete with fully developed trees and even pristine water fountains and sculptures. “We have an amazing team and run a gardening mecca,” Vice President of Business Development Ava Salman says. “We develop and breed plants that are sustainable to grow in the New Mexico sun.” More than 25 years old, Santa Fe Greenhouses literally stocks thousands of plants and specializes in ones that are water-wise and appropriate for the climate. In addition to housing display gardens where folks can wander through for inspiration, the Greenhouses also hosts experts from around the country, who speak on the uses of different plants and methods of garden design. This happens during Santa Fe Greenhouses’ annual seminar series from January-March. To appreciate patches of green in Santa Fe is easy, but to truly become a garden guru, the mecca of Santa Fe Greenhouses is beckoning for a pilgrimage down Rufina Street.
Plants of the Southwest, 3095 Agua Fria St., 438-8888
Newman’s Nursery, 7501 Cerrillos Road, 471-8642
Best Local Pet Supply Store
1403 Agua Fria St.
The critters & me is all about bringing animals and humans to the same level. If organic food and natural supplements are good enough for people, they’re good enough for pets, too. If your dog needs a special diet or some medicine (does he seem a little down? Is he sneezing too much?), this is the place to come, as many of the products are only available here. “Our mission is education, to show people how to take care of their pets on every level,” General Manager Maureen Havey says. However, there’s no need to get lost comparing the multiple kinds of catnip on the shelves. The real strength of the store is the knowledge of the staff, and extensive training goes into teaching them to make recommendations. The staff helps the place seem like a home, as does the do-it-yourself dog wash.
Zoe & Guido’s Pet Boutique, 607 Cerrillos Road, 988-2500
The Feed Bin, 1202 W. Alameda St., 982-0511
Best Local Outdoor Store
328 S. Guadalupe St.
In the fierce world of rock climbing, skiing, backpacking and living the outdoorsy lifestyle, you’ve got to practice what you preach, which is why Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works has been so successful at providing top-notch gear and advice to our community. “The breadth of knowledge that my team is able to provide is belayed by their many years of experience climbing, skiing, trekking and traveling around the world,” owner F Kent Little says. Whether the topic is Telemark skiing or playing Hacky Sack, the staff has someone who could talk for days about the specific activities. The store also prides itself on looking at the bigger picture. Moving away from retail sales, Sangre employees concentrate on the setting in which all their fun and adventure is carried out. “We try to embody not only an activity-driven retail concept, but one that is involved in the preservation of the environment in which we play,” Little says. “Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works is very active in supporting many nonprofit organizations that we feel are strategic in the preservation of the wilderness playgrounds where many of our explorations take place.”
Santa Fe Mountain Sports, 1221 Flagman Way, Ste. B1, 988-3337
Alpine Sports, 121 Sandoval St., 983-5155
Best Local Bicycle Shop
1632 St. Michael’s Drive
As more and more Santa Feans try to reduce their carbon footprints and dependency on big oil and automobiles, more bicyclists have been showing up on our roads. We have the folks over at rob and charlie’s to thank for a big chunk of these new bicyclists. They sell all kinds of bikes—mountain, road, commuter, BMX—to meet all bikers’ needs. As the leading bike experts in Santa Fe, the store’s employees can also fix customers’ bikes up stat. Going above and beyond expectations, rob and charlie’s hosts the monthly meeting of Bike Santa Fe, the city’s leading biker rights and advocacy group, on the third Wednesday of every month. “We are all responsible for this country’s problems with oil and the consequences of them,” Manager Stephen Newhall says. “Lots of Santa Feans are realizing that biking is one of the best ways to help, financially and environmentally. We are here to help by selling and fixing lots of bikes.” Let’s not forget that, in addition to bicycles making roads and consciences cleaner, they’re simply a blast, too.
New Mexico Bike N Sport, 524-C W. Cordova Road, 820-0809
Santa Fe Mountain Sports, 1221 Flagman Way, Ste. B1, 988-3337
Best Local Hardware Store
1311 Siler Road
We just can’t get enough of Big Jo and the gang. Since the hardware category was added to the Best of Santa Fe in 2007, Big Jo has been the sole recipient of first place awards. So what’s the secret? The store keeps its loyal customers informed and keeps the shelves stocked with everything you need for do-it-yourself home repair and maintenance. “We are happy to explain individual solutions, and the store is divided up by department, so our employees have a certain expertise,” Manager Rick C de Baca says cheerfully. “From roofing to plumbing to outside work, we got it covered.” The store also teaches classes for the Civic Housing Authority, so its patrons can maintain and clean up their own homes. “We want to start teaching classes to the public on home repair. We’ll probably start that up this fall or next spring,” C de Baca says. Until then, one-on-one instruction can help you out with any domestic needs, and the free delivery and assembly is the icing on the cake of nuts and bolts.
Ace Hardware, 2006 Cerrillos Road, Ste. 1, 424-9343
Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 2414 Cerrillos Road, 473-1114
Best Local Solar Energy Company/Installer
3201 Calle Marie
Usually companies make changes based on the market but, in this case, the market changed while Positive Energy Inc. stayed exactly the same. “We haven’t changed since we opened in 1997,” owner Claudia Pavel says. “With the creation of PNM’s five energy incentives for solar power, we started getting more referrals.” The growth of the solar power market is blowing up, and Positive Energy has done more than 25 percent of the installations in the Santa Fe area. Now the company has four offices in New Mexico and is staying true to the vision it had when it first opened. Positive Energy practices what it preaches, so many of the employees have solar power at home. Positive Energy itself is completely carbon neutral and outfitted to run on solar energy. “The emphasis is on energy efficiency,” Pavel says. Now that’s a sunny business model that will never be eclipsed.
WindSun NM, 108 E. Calle Francisca, 670-1792
310 Solar, 5811 Carmel Ave. NE, Albuquerque, 505-822-9200