Best Service in a Restaurant
2. tie: The Green Hills Grill and Sunset Grill
3. F. Scott’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar
Best Health Club
2. The Club
3. Gold’s Gym
Best Video Store
1. Blockbuster Video
2. Hollywood Video
3. Tower Video
1. Davis-Kidd Booksellers
2. Barnes & Noble Booksellers
3. Borders Books and Music
Best Used Bookstore
2. tie: Bodacious Books and Book Discoveries
3. Elder’s Book Store
Best Office Supply Store
1. Office Depot
2. Office Max
Best Thrift Store
2. Southern Thrift
3. The Salvation Army
Best Vintage Clothing Store
1. Pieces Vintage Clothing
2. tie: Katy K Designs and Flashback
3. Silvery Moon
1. The Mall at Green Hills
2. CoolSprings Galleria
3. Opry Mills
Best Electronics Store
1. Best Buy
2. Circuit City
3. Electronic Express
Best Sporting Goods Store
1. Academy Sports
2. The Sports Authority
3. Sports Seasons
Best Hardware Store
1. Home Depot
2. Hillsboro Hardware
3. Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse
Best Men’s Clothing Store
2. Bachrach Clothing Inc.
3. Brooks Brothers
Best Women’s Clothing Store
2. Ann Taylor
1. Emma’s Flowers and Gifts
2. The Tulip Tree
3. Cattails Florist
Best Antique Store
1. White Way Antique Mall
3. Pembroke Antiques
Best Real Estate Agent
1. Mark Deutschmann
2. Beau Keister
3. Jane Anderson
Best Hair Salon
1. Salon FX
2. Trim Classic Barber & Legendary Beauty
3. Illusions Salon & Day Spa
Best Dry Cleaner
1. White Way Cleaners
2. Village Cleaners
3. Heritage Cleaners
Best Therapeutic Massage
1. Essential Therapy Store & Spa
2. Basic Kneads Massage Therapy
3. tie: Illusions Salon & Day Spa and Tiba De Nuhad Khoury
Best Auto Dealership
1. Beaman Automotive
2. Jim Reed Chevrolet
3. Trickett Honda
Best Auto Service Center
1. Beaman Automotive
2. Jim Reed Chevrolet
3. Saturn Dealers
Best Pre-Owned Vehicle Dealership
2. Beaman Automotive
3. Jim Reed Chevrolet
Best Cookware Store (Local)
2. Davis Cookware & Cutlery Shop
3. Viking Culinary Institute
Best Department Store
2. Proffitt’s (now Hecht’s)
3. Parisian Inc.
Best Nursery/Garden Center
1. Home Depot
2. Moore and Moore Garden Center
3. Bates Nursery & Garden Center
Best Computer Store
2. Best Buy
Best New Business Other Than a Restaurant
1. Borders Books and Music
2. Fire Finch
3. Posh Boutique
Best Travel Agency
1. Belle Meade Travel
2. Sailair Travel Inc.
3. Wright Travel
Best Bicycle Store
1. Cumberland Transit Bicycles
2. Bike Pedlar
3. Nashville Bicycle Company
Best Jewelry Store
1. Village Jewelers
2. Draper Jewelry Co.
3. Service Merchandise
Best Cellular Phone Service Provider
1. Sprint PCS
2. BellSouth Mobility
3. Verizon Wireless
Best Place to Have Your Film Developed
1. Wolf Camera
Best Local Internet Service Provider
Best Skin-Care Center
1. Private Edition
2. Tiba De Nuhad Khoury
Best Optical Store
1. Image Optical
2. Milam’s Optical Service
Best Store Window Display
2. Pen & Paper Inc.
Best Apartment Complex
1. The Grove Apartments
2. Post Hillsboro Village
Best Place to Shop for Home Accessories
1. Pier One
3. The Pottery Barn
Best Place to Buy New Furniture
1. Sprintz Furniture
2. Rooms 2 Go
3. Bradford Furniture Company
Best Place for Adult Continuing Education
1. Nashville State Tech
2. Belmont University
3. University School of Nashville
Best Alternative to Walgreen’s
Best Tattoo Parlor
1. Lone Wolf Tattoo
2. Forever Yours
3. Icon Body Piercing
Best Bargain Hunting in a Retail Setting: Tuesday Morning
Whether you’re looking for picture frames, linens, cookware, or toys, Tuesday Morning has it all and more, and at a savings of 50 to 80 percent off retail. My wife and I have made a habit of routinely browsing at this self-described “closeout gift chain” for years now, but it wasn’t until a recent evening that we realized just how many unique items we’ve accumulated from this one store. As friends visited our new house for the first time and commented on various things throughout our home“This is cool. Where’d you get it?”the source was invariably Tuesday Morning and the price was invariably cheap. Stocking brand-name, high-quality items that arrive in periodic shipments, the chain (with midstate locations in Nashville and Goodlettsville) closes for weeks at a time to replenish the shelves. While the selection can get a bit picked-over after a while, the trick is to grab a season schedule and make plans to shop the first day after a restocking hiatus.
Best Reason to Cut Up Your Kroger Plus Card: Albertsons
Am I the only one creeped out by grocery stores that monitor customers’ purchases and buying preferences through the use of a bar-coded “Shopper’s Card”? Can the Four Horsemen be far off? Thankfully, there’s Albertsons, a grocery store chain with 10 locations in the Middle Tennessee area. Not only does it offer great deals without the need for a tracking device thinly disguised as a discount card, but the Bellevue location in particular boasts a number of friendly faces who are just as likely to recommend a delicious lasagna recipe as they are to clue you in early on the nightly ground beef clearance price at the meat counter. And when the check-out clerks ask if you found everything you were looking for, they mean it: My wife and I have had one get on the horn and get a rib roast cut in minutes when the butcher was nowhere to be found. Our appreciation was magnified weeks later when he recognized us during a return visit and asked, “How was that roast?” Take that, U-Scan.
Best Overhaul of a Market: J-J’s Market
Remember the good old days of J-J’s back in the ’80s, when you could pretty much count on catching a bum tottering out with a Colt 45 40-ounce on a Sunday morning? Well, it’s a whole new J-J’s now. There are interesting reads, from national literary quarterlies to gun mags. The coolers are stocked with a wide selection of foreign and domestic beers, which you can pay for and then take into the adjoining, remodeled cafe. In addition to the wide variety of hot sandwiches and salads, there are ready-made sushi rolls from Ken’s, which makes this an ideal quick alternative to the fast-food joints on West End. Located next to Noshville, near the Broadway/West End split, this little gem is just another sign of the good things going on in this neighborhood.
Best Place to Buy Skin-Care Products: Wild Oats
It’s so easy to get lost in the skin-care aisle at Wild Oats that it’s scary. Distracted by the alluring scents of everything from lavender to myrrh, you enter a time warp that can kill anywhere from five minutes to an hour. You emerge with a plan to revolutionize your life. All sorts of herbal remedies present themselves as alternatives to supermarket brands: There’s comfrey to heal cuts, carrot oil to soothe dry skin. Burt’s Bees produces a variety of effective, well-priced lotions, soaps, and creams that will have you dreaming of a hot bathits Milk and Honey lotion is so popular that it’s hard to keep on the shelves. Nature’s Gate and Alba Botanical are other favorites, and the fact that these products are made without cruelty to animals makes them that much more attractive. This is a place for the serious skin-care junkie to find well-made concoctions that aren’t too hard on the wallet.
Best Car Wash: Shur-Brite
After Nashvillians poke their heads out from under winter covers to squint at the emerging sun and decide that it’s the perfect day for a drive, they jump into their poor, filthy, neglected cars and set the OnStar for Shur-Brite Car Wash on Broadway. The system is pretty simple: Pull into the small lot, where someone will direct you to one of three lines, let you peruse a menu of available services, try to talk you into getting the works, take your order, then slap a sticker on your windshield to indicate your selection to the bustling crew of workers. Drive up to the vacuum area and relinquish your keys. Go inside to pay, then either grab a seat on one of the hanging swings outside or watch your Suburban mosey through the wash. On the other end of the line, another set of workers tends to the windows, upholstery, and tires. Fifteen minutes later, you are flying in your fine, clean ride, windows down and whistling “King of the Road.”
Best Alternative Video Store: OutLoud
Looking for the films of Marlon Riggs, Bruce LaBruce, Barbara Hammer, Mark Rappaport, or Radley Metzger? How about Barbra Streisand? Or the Pierce With a Pro how-to series? You can find them all at Ted Jensen’s G/L bookstore and gift shop, which has found a thriving home on Church Street between The World’s End and Indienet Record Shop. From queer-cinema milestones such as Pink Narcissus to the recent Urbania and Show Me Love, OutLoud’s surprisingly large video section emphasizes gay and lesbian films, but it also has one of the best selections of cult movies in town. Rental is $4 per tape for two days, but a better deal is a $25 card that allows 10 rentals. Check out the novelties while you’re there.
Best African American Bookstore: Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore
Sadly, there still aren’t many places consumers can purchase books on African American culture, politics, and lifestyles if the titles haven’t found a place on some best-seller list. Alkebu-lan carries a wealth of books that the conglomerates ignore, and it also stocks black community newspapers and periodicals, including Tavis Smiley’s newsletter, the Tri-State Defender from Memphis, and the Nation of Islam’s weekly publication. In addition, you can find great posters and cards, and if you can’t find a title you’re looking for, chances are that it can be special-ordered. Located at 2721 Jefferson St., Alkebu-Lan doesn’t try to compete with Borders or Barnes & Noblebut then, that’s what makes it such a great store.
Best Place to Buy a Gift for Just About Anyone: The Curious Heart Emporium
You can’t miss The Curious Heart Emporium on Bransford Avenue near 100 Oaks Mallit’s the only shop with an alien spaceship in the front yard. But it offers more than just extraterrestrial whimsy. There’s a whole room of Christmas ornaments that run the gamut from the traditional (snowmen, Santas, and snowflakes) to the bizarre (a mini-mobile of three sparkly fire ants). One room is filled with bath soaps, candles, and stationery, while another is brimming with unusual kids’ toys (including inexpensive wind-up aliens, of course). You’ll also find unique light fixtures, folk-art angels, distinctive ceramic collectibles, quirky jewelry, funny refrigerator magnets, art mobiles, greeting cards, and a small patio filled with garden ornaments. Prices range from a few dollars to several hundred, with every dollar amount in between.
Best Place to Get Bad Breath: The Tennessee Stinking Rose
Garlic is actually a relative of the lily family, but don’t try handing it out at Easter. Instead, try baking a bulb in the oven drizzled with honey and fresh rosemarywhich turns the pungent cloves into a buttery paste that spreads smoothly on toast. For more garlic tips, check out the Tennessee Stinking Rose in the Farmers Market, a niche food store devoted to all things garlicky, from pickles to jams to relishes. Collectors of arcane condiments will go for the Tennessee Maggot-Gaggin’ Buzzard Vomit hot sauce, the Redneck Viagra pepper potion, or the store specialty, Tennessee Stinking Garlic Vampire Chasing Salsa. Look for the grinning garlic bulb across from J.R.’s Hot Stuf.
Best New Retailer to Come to Nashville: Betsy Johnson
While Bims on a Stick indulge their inner Barbie at Bebe, girls who wanna have fun head to Betsy Johnson’s new store next door at The Mall at Green Hills. While the haughty sales staff and 0-to-2 size range at the former can provoke severe body anxiety, Betsy’s girls are friendly and inviting, and the color-packed clothes are not only playful, but embrace sizes all the way up to 14! A poster child for living life out loud, the wacky, young-at-heart designer has been around for nearly three decades, but she hasn’t missed a beat, oblivious to trends and marching to her own drummer. Her spring fashion show, for which she used Playboy bunnies as models, is shown in the store, which keeps the menfolk occupied while their girlfriends happily rifle the racks of Betsy-wear. If she can wear it, so can you.
Best Shoe Shopping: Jamie
In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly explains that whenever she gets a case of the “mean reds,” she takes her breakfast down to that wonderful purveyor of fine jewelry on Fifth Avenue and window-shops. That’s fine for Ms. Golightly, but when I feel a batch of the mean reds coming on, I make a beeline out Harding Road to the shoe salon at Jamie. Something about the architectural beauty of a really well-made heel makes me feel better. From stilettos to slides, from Prada to Walter Steiger, every season Jamie brings in some of the best shoes available. Ever since I could pronounce “Clegerie,” I’ve been heading out to see Charlene, an adorable lady who seems to get almost as much pleasure from putting me in a new pair of Jimmy Choos as I get from wearing them. She really knows her Gucci from her Gstaad, and she was very understanding about that pair of Richard Tylers whose strap broke on that first night out dancing. I’m still puzzled by the lack of Manolo Blahniks here, but outside of that, Jamie continues to deliver a surprising array of beautiful shoes, from the practical to the utterly impractical, that are always an entertaining diversion, and a reminder of why a healthy percentage of women reportedly prefer shoe shopping to sex. C’est si bon.
Best Zymologists: Music City Brewers
When a wine-fancier craves a new vintage or variety, he turns to his favorite wine shop for suggestions. But when a Nashville aficionado of “real” beer wants to try something new, he typically has to brew it himself. Such is the image of beer-swilling compared to wine-loving that the brewing of complex, sophisticated “craft beer” varieties takes place mostly in privatedespite the growing popularity of brew pubs like Boscos, Blackstone, and Market Street. Brewing in private, however, does not necessarily mean brewing alone. The Music City Brewers club is evidence of Nashville’s heady, stimulating zymological climate that fairly bubbles over with skilled brewing expertise. Membership is $18 per year and is open to brewers and quaffers alike. Brewers trade ideas and techniques; quaffers expand their appreciation for the world’s rich arrays of beers, ales, stouts, milds, meads, and ciders capable of seducing even the most sophisticated palates. Meetings are usually at Boscos, although MCB’s next get-together will be at Blackstone, 2 p.m. April 14. Visit the Web site at musiccitybrewers.com for more details.
Best Home-Brewers’ Outlet: All Seasons Gardening & Brewing Supply Co.
Bill Harpole and Paul Thompson, co-founders of All Seasons in Green Hills, are two of those rare fellows who mean it when they say, “There are no dumb questions.” When recently asked, for example, “What is ‘isinglass’?” Paul never so much as smirked while answering, “Oh, it’s just the shredded stomach of a sturgeon, used for clarifying home-brewed beer.” Being accomplished brewers both, Bill and Paul provide the necessary mixture of encouragement, advice, and solace for the novice brewer. Their beer-brewing (and wine-making) stock is cleverly arranged into kits that shield thirsty, ambitious neophytes from dizzying lists of unfamiliar paraphernalia. Experienced “mashers,” on the other hand, will find malts and hops, yeasts and finings, lauter tuns, spargers, chillers, and carboys to their hearts’ content. A full selection of gardening supplies, hydroponics, and horticultural lighting fleshes out the rest of this fascinating shop. For more information, call 385-0300, or log on to www.allseasonsnashville.com.
Best Garden Center: Morning Glory Farm
Some like great music, some like great flicks, but for those who get off on gardening, this is the place to go. Twenty-six years ago, Floyd and Kim MacDonald started their landscaping company, Trees Are Company, but could never find the plants they needed for their garden designs. To solve their problem, they started propagating their own. That solution is now Morning Glory Farm, which offers 300 to 400 unusual plant varieties, ranging from the hottest new plant introductions (like this year’s variegated Jacob’s Ladder) to the wildest of natives (like the Tennessee magnolia, a huge deciduous plant that grows taller than Jack’s beanstalk in no time at all). Selling no garden supplies, only plants galore, Morning Glory is more like a farm than a garden center, not only because everything is grown from seed, cuttings, or root stock, but because it is located way out yonder in Fairview. If you really need an excuse for a country drive or to get away from that chickweed, this is it. Call 799-0138 for more information.
Best Cure for Winter Gardening Frustration: Davidson County’s Master Gardener Class
Learn the difference between a fire ant and a carpenter ant! A termite soldier and a termite worker! Hear shocking scientific testimony debunking the myth that leaving leaves on your lawn is a bad thing! Witness the proper way to prune grapevines! All that and much more is covered in the master gardener class offered by the Davidson County Agricultural Extension Service in cooperation with the University of Tennessee. Held during the dead, dreary doldrums of winter when gardener hands are particularly restless, the class informs, enlightens, and encourages. The price is right$75 for singles or $125 for couples who share the massive, three-ring-binder “handbook” that accompanies the lectures. Beware: It’s a commitment. Classes go for two-and-a-half hours each, and to earn the official master gardener designation, participants must complete 40 volunteer hours sharing their gardening knowledge with others.
Best Antique Show: Heart of Country
Nashville has a couple of terrific antique shows, including the Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville and the Belle Meade Antiques Show. But Heart of Country takes the cake. Since its inception 19 years ago at Opryland Hotel, it has gained a national reputation, becoming to American country antiques what New York’s Winter Antique Show is to high-style furnishings. Known as the place where “fresh” objects first emerge in the marketplace, it draws dealers and collectors from across the country, including tastemakers like Ralph Lauren and Country Home magazine. And if that weren’t enough, there’s the slightly less tony and less pricey Tailgate Show held just down the road at the Fiddler’s Inn. Both events coincide twice a year, in March and November.
Best Public Library Branch: Green Hills
City government and a lot of interested local citizens put their heads together to spearhead this worthy project. It wasn’t readily apparent how much Green Hills needed a new library till the staff and collection vacated the old one next to the mall and inhabited the handsome new structure on Benham Avenue, on the other side of Hillsboro Road. It’s attractive, functional, and has ample parking. It also has a couple dozen new Dell PCs, a nice, always expanding selection of classic films and educational videos, CDs (from Bach to rock), and extra space for private and civic meetings. The children’s room is friendly and inviting too. But mostly, the library has a wide-open communal feel and a helpful and efficient staff. (And yes, there’s an after-hours drop-box.)
Best Cardiac Sonogram: Vanderbilt University Medical Center
High-tech medicine is a gas, especially if you’ve got a way to pay for it and the tests are negative. Reconstructed hippies, in particular, will be fascinated by the colored-lights experience of Vanderbilt’s cardiac sonogram. Garden-variety EKGs are fine, and they provide necessary information, but if you want to see your heart in action with all the bells and whistles, this is the baby boomer’s 21st-century answer to acid. The old ticker’s up there on the screen in red and green, a fully animated, pulsating, undulating blob of life-force, and you can seeif you dare lookthe arterial flow of blood in and out. It’s mesmerizing, reallylike being in the opening scene of your very own biopic that’s about to go into flashback. Otherwisethe hip graphics asideit’ll really help the good doctors help you plan the rest of your life.
Best Place to Make Flyers in the Middle of the Night: Kinko’s Brentwood
Since approximately one out of every two people in this town has a band, the odds that you’ve either made flyers in the middle of the night or have seen someone making flyers in the middle of the night are pretty even. It’s also very probable, then, that you’ve experienced the frustration of the old Soviet-style photocopiers at Kinko’s Green Hills or the war room atmosphere of Kinko’s West End. Brethren, behold the glory of Kinko’s Brentwood! During the day, this store caters to the needs of the Maryland Farms corporate set, so it’s got to keep everything running smoothly. The photocopiers are almost brand-new, and the enlarging equipment works without a hitch. But at night, nobody goes there. It’s my little secret...for now, anyway.
Best Specialty Record Shop: Jazz at Bellevue Center
Ed Smith’s operation is reminiscent of vintage shops like the old Commodore store in New York City or Skippy White’s in Boston. He offers rare vinyl and CDs covering classic jazz in every era, blues, some R&B, even reggae, African, Latin, and pop. There’s an array of posters, numerous periodicals, and more discs from local jazz artists than at any other store in the area. Jazz also features live concerts every weekend. Don’t let the long drive out to Bellevue deter you from visiting this shopno hard-core jazz or blues fan can afford to pass it up.
Best Place to Get a Headache: MARS Music
For full effect, wait until after dark to go to this 100 Oaks Mall music superstore; that way you can sear your retinas on Hollywood 27’s audacious neon while parking your car. Once inside Mars, you’ll not only find the wide selection of guitars, keyboards, drums, PAs, DJ equipment, and more that makes anyone with a musical bone in his or her body quiver like a kid in a candy store, but you’ll also be greeted by a cacophony reminiscent of Old Skull’s Get Outta School. Typically, you’ll hear someone blasting a riff from [insert your own AC/DC, Metallica, or Led Zeppelin song here] through Marshall stacks, while a handful of aspiring Hendrixes and Van Halens try desperately to drown each other out and impress everyone else in the huge retail space with their blazing fretwork. Add to this mix a church musical director or two belting out hymns in the keyboard section, and you’ll understand why this store should offer complimentary aspirin at the door.
Best Place to Buy a Copy of Tattoo You: Rossi’s Record Room
One of the most pleasurable things about being a vinyl record collector is that the shops where you find the goods are often as personal and individual as the shopkeeper himself. Joe Rossi is a big guy with a tiny room full of records. But size, in this case, doesn’t matter. The selection at Rossi’s is comprehensive and eclectic: new wave, country, soul, and ’60s rock are all represented. Crates upon crates of great old records crowd every corner, and Joe seems to know a little bit about every side in stock. Located in a small yellow building on Franklin Road right before the Moores Lane intersection, Rossi’s Record Room is easy to miss, but that just adds to its appeal. It’s just out of the way enough to be in the right place.
Best Chain Record Store: Tower Records
Ever since its arrival in Nashville, Tower Records has consistently been a terrific provider of music, mainstream and indie alike. While typical chain stores such as Best Buy will excitedly vend you one of their 80 copies of the newest nauseating Korn remix album, good luck trying to find anything there by Longpigs, Death Cab for Cutie, Silver Jews, or basically anything else worth listening to. The fact is that Tower rarely fails to stock obscure albums. In addition to its selection, the prices are often reasonable, with the majority of CDs priced in the $13 to $15 range (while subpar chains like Sam Goody or Camelot average an outrageous $19). Most impressive of all is the new Tower Records in Opry Mills: It’s great to have a decent variety of lesser-known music so close to the Grand Old Opry.
Best Brasgamwres: KDavis Travels
Just because Karen Davisone-half of the founding partnership behind Davis-Kidd Booksellersis no longer selling books doesn’t mean she has settled down and put her feet up. For the last few years, she has established KDavis Travels among the elite sort of tour-organizing companies that develop personalized walking vacations through unspoiled locales. Her roster this year comprises four week-long tours: Tuscany and the Umbria Border in Italy (May 19-26); the Normandy Coast of France (May 28-June 4); Wales’ Pembrokeshire Coast (June 9-16); and Oaxaca, Mexico (Sept. 15-22). Karen’s particular talent is to scout her territories and arrange her accommodations so that walking one of her trips is an adventure of discovery rather than an exercise in frustration. Her trips range in price from $1,300 to $1,700 (plus airfares), and walking stages are approximately 8 to 10 miles per day. Wales is the spiritual birthplace of KDavis Travels, so it is only fitting that the Welsh have a word for the founder: brasgamwres“a strider,” or “she of the sumptuous step.” For more details, call 385-9890 or log onto www.kdavistravels.com.
Best Little-Known Research Resource: Interlibrary Loan Dept. @ Nashville Public Library
Call it a reading man’s Napster. If you are unable to locate a specific book or journal article in the public library’s own vast holdings, a simple call to ILD will initiate a nationwide (and occasionally an international) search for a copy that you can borrowusually for free. Sometimes the borrower is asked to pay for shipping fees or photocopying costs (as in the case of article requests, for example); and some of the lending libraries exact “loan charges” for books leaving their collections. But Nashville’s ILD charges nothing for its own services, and in the opinions of many local researchers, its staff and their efforts are woefully underappreciated by Nashville’s reading and researching community. To reach ILD at the main downtown library, call 862-5780.
Best Collector-Car Resource: Music City Classic
Singlehandedly, George Eber has developed his semiannual Music City Classic auto auction into the “must-see” event for Middle Tennessee’s most dedicated car collectors and most devoted hot-rodders. The recent March 24 auction at the sparkling-new ABC Nashville auction facility in Hermitage attracted a virtual parade of museum-quality cars available for sale, for tire-kicking, or for daydreaming. Highlights for the spring auction included a 1973 de Thomaso Pantera and a 1948 Daimler convertible, for instance, and these were surrounded by musclecars, exotics, street rods, classic trucks, and sports cars of nearly every stripe. Eber’s next Music City Classic is planned for the fall, and it’s possible to register anytime before then as either a buyer or a seller. To do so, contact Eber via phone at 240-3020 or via fax at 847-0100.
Best Place to Buy Condoms: The Kroger U-Scan Aisle
I think you all know what I mean here. T.A.