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Bells to Whistles, BOSB‘06

What You Need For Life’s Finer Moments


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Musical Instrument Store

Jensen Guitar & Music Co.

2830 De la Vina (acoustic shop), 687-4027; 2905 De la Vina (electric shop), 563‑3200; 435 2nd St., Solvang, 686‑0080; 1130 E. Clark Ave., Santa Maria, 934‑8687

It’s the best place in town where your kids can learn how to play rock guitar. You can buy electronic equipment, as well as beautiful handcrafted acoustic instruments. And the readers pick it every year.

Finalist Nick Rail Music

Office Supply Store

Staples

7015 Marketplace Dr., Goleta, 961-8093; 410 State St., 965-9577

It’s hard to get sentimental about a place where you get gummed reinforcements or laser jet cartridges. (We do miss Lund’s Business Supply Stores a little, though.) Best thing about this big ol’ store is that it almost invariably has what you are looking for, so when you buy it you can forget you needed to look. Maybe it’s not sexy shopping, but you go there because you are all about business — and so is Staples.

Finalist OfficeMax

Bookstore

Chaucer’s Books

3321 State St., 682-6787

Since the late 1980s in the Loreto Plaza, Mahri Kerley has defied most of the current marketing formulas and made a pretty damned good living on our bookworm tendencies. She does not stock books just because they turn over twice a season, but rather she brings them in if they sound delightful or even just insanely informative. The store is overstocked year-round, and the staff is knowledgeable and sprightly on their feet. Feeling indulgent? There are signings, poetry, children’s books, and calendars year-round, too. It’s not a very businesslike place; it’s for people who love books.

Finalist Borders Books Music Movies and Café

CD Store; Used CD Selection

Morninglory Music

1014 State St., 966-0266; 720 N. H St., Lompoc, 736-7676

For more than three decades it has been the homegrown store for music, surviving the evolution of an industry that nowadays seems to be evaporating into cyber world. CDs may be on their way out; who knows in this downloading, ripping, and burning era of obtaining the music we love. But you wouldn’t know it looking into this emporium. The new stuff is up front, the older music and the used copies integrated into the giant horde of pop, rock, folk, jazz, hip-hop, and even spoken word. Like a hero standing against some predicted doom, Morninglory shows no sign of wavering in its commitment to protect us from dull quietude.

Finalists Store: Borders Books Music Movies and Café; Used CD Selection: Wherehouse Music

DVD Store; Used DVD Selection

Blockbuster Video

Five locations

Somehow this chain survived the home entertainment makeover from Beta to VHS and then to DVD. At one time, there was a mom & pop video rental store on every corner like gas stations in the 1950s, an era Blockbuster also outlived. Now it’s duking it out with the big convenient services like Netflix. Soon we will have implants in our cranial cavities that receive movies from giant robot-beaming stations in the sky. Meanwhile, however, the voters like to go hang out at Blockbuster and even buy a movie now and then to take home and play on their soon-to-be-outdated plasma high res TV sets. That’s so 2005.

Finalists DVD Store: Video Shmideo; Used DVD Selection: Morninglory Music

Gift Shop

Lewis & Clark

1116 State St., 962-6034; 1286 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 969-7177

This pretty little shop in Montecito and downtown has niceties for every occasion. Around our house it’s known as the Valentine’s Day Supply Shop, but it has stepped in nicely for birthdays and stocking stuffers, too. It’s got a great staff and it can be fun just to browse; but in a town of nifty gifts, the readers like this one best.

Finalist Imagine

Party Supply Store

Glenda’s Party Cove

3319-A State St., 687-4500

We like any business that ends in the word “Cove.” Balloons (the big sales item), invites, streamers, party favors, and more formal items like stationery and pens are all here under a roof that has sheltered celebratory dreams since before time began. It started at State and Mission, moved to La Cumbre, and now makes its home in the Loreto Plaza. Owner Steve Thomson said some days can be tough, with the occasional cranky customer. “But usually they get happy coming in here. And I like that,” he said.

Finalist Scavenge

Art Supply Store

Art Essentials

32 E. Victoria St., 965-5456

It’s run by artists, and artists love their tools. So you can go in there not knowing what you need to create — say, an altar piece like old Bellini did? Then after a few ideas from the staff and recommendations for the few things they don’t carry, you will be on your way to becoming an old master. Or, maybe discovering that hobby that makes you happier and happily busier while you get old.

Finalist Michaels Arts & Crafts

Used Bookstore

The Book Den

15 E. Anapamu St., 962-3321

They’ve moved again, but this time back into their original site. It’s enough to set off nostalgia alarms and create time-traveling scenarios for some of us old folk, but the newer people around will probably just appreciate how much good stuff Eric Kelley can squeeze onto the shelves people have been browsing since before the Internet and television. Construction’s almost done, and the new parking lot is rarely full. Come and visit an institution considered to be California’s oldest continuing book dealer.

Finalist Paperback Alley Used Books

Video / DVD Rental Selection

Video Shmideo

11 W. Victoria St., 564-4999

It’s one of those places that should get a second award for its see-and-be-seen ambiance. People love to wander in, browse, talk to the friendly clerks, and, oh yeah, rent a few films. Great selections in Hollywood, foreign, cult, gay and lesbian, and even the complete library of Mystery Science Theater 3000 taped shows. If you like both Alain Resnais and Bruce Lee, you will probably enjoy Video Shmideo.

Finalist Blockbuster Video

Magazine and Newspaper Selection

Borders Books Music Movies and Café

900 State St., 899-3668; 7000 Marketplace Ave., Goleta, 968-1370

The racks of glossy magazines stretch across more than half of the ground floor in this big and airy store. It’s where you go to get that hot article about you-know-who and von-whom in Vanity Fair, it’s a good place to score Art in America, or Knitting Essentials. If you want Rachel Ray’s magazine or Oprah’s, they’re not far from the dish on Brad Pitt and a whole magazine dedicated to Arizona highways. All this and more, and a bunch of your bigger city and world newspapers, too.

Finalist Read N’ Post

Mac Computer Repair

MacMechanic

216 E. Gutierrez St., 965-9722

Since 1999 Mike Bishop’s store has been dealing in and making those extremely rare adjustments to Apple computers. They must be satisfying customers left and right because each year, the readers have named them the good apple in town.

Finalist Mac Shac

PC Computer Repair

Channel Data Systems

4141 State St., Ste. A-2, 964-6695

In an era of outsourced consumer support, people want to know that the PC did not, oh no, it did not just eat that 40-page report you worked on all night. (Chances are good it didn’t.) Bill Lewis’s store has been around since before the era of computer reached regular folk, and he’ll be here when you need repairs and reassuring advice. Maybe not a miracle but something slightly magic featuring the Undo command.

Finalist Hart Consulting

Camera Shop

Samy’s Camera

614 Chapala St., 963-7269

It’s a town dedicated to the art of photography, from Brooks Institute of Photography to Richard Ross’s classes at UCSB. In all the years since they’ve been here, the tiny-chain store — one store here, another in Los Angeles — has been voted number one. This is the kind of development that store owners and big shutterbugs should focus on with pleasure. Someday my prints will come.

Finalist Russ Camera

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