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Home, Goods & Services Writers' Choice 

Best of Nashville 2012

click to enlarge homemag.jpg

BEST FURNITURE SHOWROOM: E.T. BURK
Did you know there are mannequins that function only to display inside a casket? It's true. You can find one in the Gulch at E.T. Burk. You can also find the best Danish Modern, French provincial, and reclaimed Tennessee wood furniture money can buy. Owner Chris Kletzien is a former screenwriter who named the gallery after his great-great-grandfather, Ernest Theophilus Burk, a self-made man with a long career in the furniture business and pioneering views on civil rights. If you're the type who could sacrifice an entire month's rent on a statement piece that would solidify your great-taste status, this is your place. For the rest of us, walking through the store can be as exhilarating as spending an afternoon in an art gallery or museum collection. —LAURA HUTSON

BEST AUTO SHOP: POLLY'S SHELL ON BELMONT
Kenny Polly runs his shop pretty much the way his dad did from 1959-1999, when Polly the younger took over. While Kenny Polly and crew provide extremely reliable service, don't bring your vehicle there if you can't handle the truth. If it's broke, they'll fix it. If it ain't, they won't waste your time. Note: If you encounter a mustached, savant-like mechanic named Dale, shoot him the bird. He loves it. —KIM GREEN

click to enlarge Best Furniture Showroom: E.T. Burk - MICHAEL W. BUNCH

BEST BOOKSTORE: PARNASSUS BOOKS
You are what you read, and the late 2010 closing of bookstore Davis-Kidd left a void in many of our hearts — and our bookshelves. Fortunately, local author Ann Patchett came to our rescue with the November 2011 opening of Parnassus Books. Located in the same zip code, but in a cozier, more intimate space, Parnassus offers prime real estate to local authors, promotes book clubs and community events, and boasts a lovingly curated children's section that will instantly transport you back to the days when you broke your bedtime curfew and read under the covers with a flashlight. —ABBY WHITE

BEST USED BOOKSTORE: RHINO BOOKSELLERS
A Music City treasure for discerning book lovers since 2001, Fred Koller's Rhino Booksellers stores have just about anything you could want. A songwriter of distinction since the early '70s, Fred also has lots of opinions on vintage and contemporary music, politics, sports or whatever your interest. But first and foremost, his stores always deliver the goods when it comes to the printed volume. Along with impressive competitors like BookMan/BookWoman and McKay, Rhino remains a top place to go when you're seeking good reading and conversation. —RON WYNN

BEST BIKE SHOP: HALCYON BIKE SHOP
The 12South shop's location may have changed (from Halcyon Avenue around the corner to 12th), but its mission remains: to foment a vibrant bike culture in our car-centric city. Halcyon specializes in refurbishing old bikes and selling them at affordable prices. The shop also offers speedy bike service, communal DIY repair stations, and friendly mentoring to newbie cyclists and bike mechanics. Extra donated parts and frames go to The Workshop at Oasis Center, run by noted do-gooder Dan Furbish. (See a piece on Furbish in People & Places.) —KIM GREEN

click to enlarge Best Car Built in Tennessee: Nissan LEAF - ERIC ENGLAND

BEST CAR BUILT IN TENNESSEE: NISSAN LEAF
It didn't sink in just how revolutionary the all-electric Nissan LEAF is until I realized the car doesn't have a tailpipe. Oh, duh. In fact, the LEAF is most noteworthy for what it doesn't have. No oil changes. No noise. No hood heat after an hour in Green Hills traffic. And no guilt, because when production moves to Smyrna in December, these babies and their battery packs will be homemade. —LISA ZHITO

BEST DENTIST FOR DENTALPHOBES: EAST SIDE SMILES
It's true: East Side Smiles cured me of my dental terror. After I suffered some bad experiences involving bleeding profusely from the face, Dr. Thomas Hadley and his staff brought me back from the edge with nothing more than nonjudgmental staff and a methodical, high-tech approach to fixing your grill. They also hooked me up with a 3D model of my skull. (That's so metal!) —LANCE CONZETT

BEST EXCUSE TO BOOST YOUR BRAIN: THE SKILLERY
Matt Dudley left a nearly decade-long teaching stint with the sense that an educational void persisted in many adult lives, and an inspiration for how to fill that void. The fruit of that inspiration: The Skillery, an online marketplace that wrangles all manner of expert-led offline classes. Since its launch, Nashvillians have had the chance to learn how to home-brew beer, can foods, give a massage — even how to teach a Skillery-wrangled class, from Dudley himself. —NICOLE KEIPER

click to enlarge Best Florist: OSHi - ERIC ENGLAND

BEST FLORIST: OSHI
Simply put, Perri Crutcher, the dapper man behind the inventive creations at OSHi International Floral Decor Studio, makes flower art. You may not know you needed flower art in your life until you've received an arrangement from OSHi, but you do. Every other floral bouquet, centerpiece, installation or arrangement you see afterward will wilt in comparison. Take it from the most fashionable man on earth, Tim Gunn, who called Crutcher's work "stunning." Making it work, indeed. —ABBY WHITE

BEST HAIR SALON: PARLOUR & JUKE
If shops were movie sets, Parlour & Juke would be part Desperately Seeking Susan and part Steel Magnolias — as accommodating as it is edgy. Leah Eddmenson gave me killer highlights, Melody Geer cut my friend's hair into a badass Robyn swirl, and Cali DeVaney cuts the famously image-conscious Jack White's locks. Plus, watching Michael Martin give someone a straight razor shave is practically a religious experience — I can only imagine what it must be like to receive one. —LAURA HUTSON

BEST HARDWARE STORE: HILLSBORO HARDWARE
Hillsboro Hardware is a genuine hardware store, with a staff that can find the screws and the plungers with no trouble. And there's also this delightful throwback: There are people in the store who know how to fix lamps. Just try to get Grandma's favorite lamp fixed in a big-box store. —WALTER JOWERS

BEST HOUSE PAINTER: MIKE McKENZIE
Originally hired to stain a fence, this former expat (dude loves talking about Spain) was subsequently rehired to paint the exterior and interior of our home. And he's helped us with several other renovation-related tasks simply because he's a good guy. Moreover, his blithe, calming demeanor belies the intensity of his craftsmanship and work ethic — his standards are likely higher than your own, a characteristic that's evident in his attention to detail. —RYAN BURLESON

BEST MEN'S CLOTHING BOUTIQUE: BILLY REID
Billy Reid's Hill Center store carries both men's and women's clothing, but his exceptional classic-with-a-twist menswear truly ups the ante for Southern fashion. With his headquarters in nearby Florence, Ala., the current Council of Fashion Designers of America Menswear Designer of the Year retains his roots in the South as he expands his empire throughout the nation and beyond. Bonus: If you're a lady who likes watching cute guys shop in a non-stalker way, this is the place. It makes fighting the Green Hills traffic worth it. —ABBY WHITE

BEST WOMEN'S CLOTHING BOUTIQUE: H. AUDREY
A great women's boutique needs two essential things: a deep, wide selection of interesting brands and amazing end-of-season sales. You'll find both at H. Audrey, Holly Williams' hip Green Hills store, named for her grandmother, Mrs. Hank Sr. Like Holly herself, H. Audrey is a little bit country (slouchy Western boots by Golden Goose, boyfriend jeans from Current/Elliott), a little bit rock 'n' roll (gothy Rick Owens leather jackets, edgy Raquel Allegra knits). The sum of those parts is 100 percent Nashville. —LIBBY CALLAWAY

BEST NEW BOOKSTORE: EAST SIDE STORY
Nashville were a tourist attraction like, say, Disneyland, East Side Story would be the perfect last stop for souvenir hunters. The store stocks only local writers, which is a nifty idea for a bookstore, since browsing the works of your friends and neighbors — some of whom might be in the store with you — is not an experience that is easy to replicate online. It's also a great way to behold the breadth of Nashville's literary community. —BETSY PHILLIPS

BEST PLACE TO BUY DESIGNER CLOTHES THAT NOBODY ELSE WILL HAVE: U.A.L.
If you're an aficionado of discount shopping, the words "70 to 90 percent off retail" are the sweetest you'll ever hear. U.A.L., located in a strip mall on West End, seems a bit overwhelming when you first walk in the door, but the extremely attentive staff will help you sort through the racks. If you're in the mood to dig, you may score a major designer bargain. And when the thrill of the hunt results in a Marc Jacobs dress? Even sweeter. —ABBY WHITE

BEST NEW PLACE TO GET INKED: IAN WHITE TATTOOS
Ian White worked at Black 13 for nearly three years before opening his own sleek shop with his wife as business partner. (She, incidentally, is tattoo-free.) And while he's inked everyone from Paramore's Hayley Williams to members of Sigur Rós, White approaches each piece with the same creative eye and style he dubs "implied realism." The place will soon be reborn as Safe House Tattoo, with several additional artists. Just think twice before stamping your tramp — these masterpieces deserve better than your coccyx. —MARISSA R. MOSS

click to enlarge Best Old Place to Get Inked: Lone Wolf Body Art - ERIC ENGLAND
  • Eric England
  • Best Old Place to Get Inked: Lone Wolf Body Art

BEST OLD PLACE TO GET INKED: LONE WOLF BODY ART
While each location — Midtown, Franklin, East Nashville and Lebanon — boasts skilled tattoo artists who specialize in everything from photo reproduction to tattoo cover-up, the Midtown location is the most fun. Because of its close proximity to Vanderbilt, Music Row and a handful of popular restaurants, the clientele that wanders in ranges from soccer moms to musicians to sorority girls, always creating an entertaining scene. —ABBY WHITE

BEST PILATES STUDIO: SIMPLY BALANCED
In the fun, friendly environment at Simply Balanced, clients are encouraged to sample different teacher styles: For example, studio owner David Gensheimer has danced with Nashville Ballet among other companies, and his Pilates classes, tagged Pure Strength, are athletic. Jennifer McNamara, who retired from the ballet after 20 years, teaches "Mindful Movement" classes that are more serene. But an overarching mission is helping people avoid — and recover from — injury. Simply Balanced also offers yoga, massage, private Pilates sessions, and Pilates teacher training through Balanced Body University. —DANA KOPP FRANKLIN

BEST PLACE TO BUY A DRESS TO GET LAID: STUDIO 615
Let's be frank: Sometimes you need a dress that is going to get the job done. While it would be easy to buy something that's too short and too tight at a chain like Forever 21, why don't you shop local in your pursuit of a business-time dress? Located on West End, Studio 615 is your one-stop shop for a third-date dress. Just don't wear it on a first date. You're a lady, after all. —ABBY WHITE

BEST RECORD STORE: GRIMEY'S
Despite a decade that has seen album sales wane and indie record shops shutter by the dozen, Nashville remains a bastion for independent music retailers, with stores like The Groove, Phonoluxe, The Great Escape and Ernest Tubb. But with the announcement that they'll be expanding into a secondary space later this year, our longtime local fave Grimey's once again takes the honors. Grimey's Too will add a bookstore and a coffee shop, but will still feature the same top-tier selection and knowledgeable, generally awesome staff as the original location. So, Grimey's: Here's our wallet. Just go ahead and take it. —D. PATRICK RODGERS

BEST PLACE TO GET A RABBIT NEUTERED: GRASSMERE ANIMAL HOSPITAL
You won't think you need this info until you notice a peculiar sheen on the walls, where your hormone-addled bunny is marking his territory. By then, you'll be ready to splurge on the $500 many local vets charge to fix the problem. That's when you need the name of Cindy Brumbelow, DVM. For a reasonable price, she'll hook you up by unhooking Thumper's manhood. —CARRINGTON FOX

BEST PLACE TO BUY FROM LOCAL DESIGNERS: LOCAL HONEY
The Nashville fashion scene is garnering attention beyond the city limits, and one of its cornerstones sits on Belmont Boulevard. Local Honey, Shea Steele's vintage-slash-indie designer boutique, carries collections from local favorites such as White Rabbit, TUFT, and Jamie and the Jones. They also house tons of reasonably priced vintage, primarily from the '60s, '70s, '80s and — I cringe, because this makes me feel old — the '90s. —ABBY WHITE

BEST NEW FITNESS STUDIO: KRANK NASHVILLE
If listlessly walking on a treadmill in the back of the gym is your idea of a workout, Krank Nashville is not the place for you. Or maybe it's exactly what you need to get out of your exercise rut. The incredible trainers at the Bandywood studio will lead you through the most intense cycling classes of your life, and their popular Krank classes employ a variety of props including Halo Bells, TRX, sandbags and other fun toys that ensure you will never have the same workout twice. This is the most fun torture you'll ever experience. —ABBY WHITE

BEST PLUMBER: DANIEL "MEZ" MEZERA
The phrase "just a phone call away" actually means something when it comes to Nashville's most dependable, most affable and, well, damn talented plumber, Daniel Mezera, simply known as "Mez" to his clients and neighbors. Whether contracted in advance to install a water line in an upstairs renovation or beckoned in a frantic emergency, Mez answers each call with a consistent, unflappable grace (usually knee-deep in another project), no matter how many of us call on this gentle giant at any hour of the day. —RYAN BURLESON

click to enlarge Best Store to Buy a Gift for an Out-of-Town Guest: Hatch Show Print - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM

BEST YOGA INSTRUCTOR: AMANDA WENTWORTH
Amanda Wentworth is the real deal. Her classes integrate a breath-based flow with emphasis on precise form into a deep, mind-bendingly energizing practice. Avoiding dogmatism and preachiness, Amanda makes ancient yoga philosophy relevant and accessible to all her students, from those aspiring to be perfect pretzels or have a high, tight yoga butt to those grappling with chronic illness. Warm, calm and thorough, she teaches people how to breathe freely, build strength and flexibility, and be at home in their bodies. She teaches all over town — check amandasana.com for her schedule. —SARAH NORRIS

BEST STORE TO BUY A GIFT FOR AN OUT-OF-TOWN GUEST: HATCH SHOW PRINT
You probably wouldn't even think to do your gift shopping on Lower Broad, unless you're looking for a keychain or guitar-shaped sunglasses. But nestled between the cheesy tourist shops sits one of the oldest letterpress print shops in the country, Hatch Show Print, which carries popular reprints of era posters of the greats, from Johnny Cash to Elvis Presley. You never know what you might find in the bins that line the windows, where they store leftovers from recent events. They also sell postcards, T-shirts and coffee mugs, but the cat is not for sale. —ABBY WHITE



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