WEATHER »
Robbie Crew (left) and Dave Esquer showcase the wide selection available at Morninglory Music.

Paul Wellman

Robbie Crew (left) and Dave Esquer showcase the wide selection available at Morninglory Music.


Bells to Whistles

Best of Readers Poll 2007


CD Store

Used CD Selection

Morninglory Music 1014 State St., 966-0266

First opened in 1969, the various stores famously strewn around town fueled vinyl and CD dreams right through this awkward era of downloadable culture. We’d better look out lest the music store becomes only a center for obscure collectibles rather than a vital shot of cultural adrenaline. In the meantime, there’s Morninglory, where the readers still like to pick up some revolving discs full of tunes.

Finalists- CD Store: Borders Books, Music, Movies & Cafe Used CD Selection: f.y.e./for your entertainment (Wherehouse Music)

Office Supply Store

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

Given that many of us spend about a third of our most productive years utilizing office stuff in a rather intense manner, a store like this should probably warrant more attention than shopping, say, Rodeo Drive or even Trader Joe’s. The best thing about Staples is these vital items all gather under one roof with helpful staff and big-chain discounts. It’s easy, and, better yet, it’s got big technology, swivel chairs, laser jets, and magic markers all under one fun roof.

Finalist-  OfficeMax

Bookstore

Chaucer’s Books3321 State St., 682-6787

It’s doubtful there’s a better bookstore in California. In raw terms, the store holds more than 150,000 titles and anyone who’s visited the place realizes they are all out on the shelves-and sometimes above and below the shelves, as well. Run by an owner who defies all the bean-counting rules that defined bookstores in the last 20 years, Mahri Kerley’s comfy 33-year-old business ought to be a landmark. From a massive children’s section to the array of popular writers who frequently visit the store for signings, Chaucer’s is bibliophilic ecstasy.

Finalist- Borders Books, Music, Movies & Cafe

DVD Store

Used DVD Selection

Video/DVD Rental Selection

Blockbuster Five locations

Remember the ubiquitous video stores? There used to be three on the Mesa 10 years ago. Somehow, the Mom and Pop Movie Shop didn’t really pan out as small business goldmines and nowadays, as Netflix spreads its omnivorous influence, even the chains seem a bit old-fashioned. Except for Blockbuster, which has made an aesthetic out of massively stocking small, no-nonsense venues. Attempts to change video store policies like late fees have apparently succeeded here: Santa Barbara and Goleta each hosts stores where our readers are equally willing to buy or rent those movies that work just fine on the smaller but easier-accessed Bijou back home near the microwave popcorn stand.

Finalists- DVD Store and Video/DVD Rental Selection: Video Shmideo. Used DVD Selection: Morninglory Music

Gift Shop

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

Oh, how fun,” said Lisa Reifel, who co-owns the two-store treasure house with her mother, Elizabeth Reifel. “We’ve been in business for 26 years now; isn’t that amazing?” she said, currently consumed by unwrapping boxes full of Christmas items. “We have 8,000 things to do, and this is the first nice thing that’s happened, this makes my day. We do try hard here, and we are so grateful to be acknowledged.”

Finalist- Imagine

Used Bookstore

Book Den 15 E. Anapamu St., 962-3321

The business called the Book Den has been around for 105 years, according to owner Eric Kelley, who has owned the business since 1979. Kelley recently moved the store two doors down the street to its original 1933 location and has survived the advent of the Internet as well as Granada construction woes-now nearly ended. “I do appreciate every year that the readers of Santa Barbara do so much to support this store,” he said. “We’ve had overwhelming support for our new-old store. Cozy is the word most people use.”

Finalist- Paperback Alley Used Books

Musical Instrument Store

Jensen Guitar & Music Co. 435 2nd St., Solvang, 686-0080; 2830-F De la Vina St., 687-4027; 2905 De la Vina St., 563-3200

Some kids have to take instrument classes and some kids just have to rock. Jensen’s can do either, though we would safely say the accent is on the latter alternative. They have everything from beautiful Martin acoustics to electronic interface for your theremin, and a great deal in between including instruction. Talk about schools of rock.

Finalist- Instrumental Music Co.

Gift Shop

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

Oh, how fun,” said Lisa Reifel, who co-owns the two-store treasure house with her mother, Elizabeth Reifel. “We’ve been in business for 26 years now; isn’t that amazing?” she said, currently consumed by unwrapping boxes full of Christmas items. “We have 8,000 things to do, and this is the first nice thing that’s happened, this makes my day. We do try hard here, and we are so grateful to be acknowledged.”

Finalist- Imagine

Used Bookstore

Book Den 15 E. Anapamu St., 962-3321

The business called the Book Den has been around for 105 years, according to owner Eric Kelley, who has owned the business since 1979. Kelley recently moved the store two doors down the street to its original 1933 location and has survived the advent of the Internet as well as Granada construction woes-now nearly ended. “I do appreciate every year that the readers of Santa Barbara do so much to support this store,” he said. “We’ve had overwhelming support for our new-old store. Cozy is the word most people use.”

Finalist- Paperback Alley Used Books

Musical Instrument Store

Jensen Guitar & Music Co.435 2nd St., Solvang, 686-0080; 2830-F De la Vina St., 687-4027; 2905 De la Vina St., 563-3200

Some kids have to take instrument classes and some kids just have to rock. Jensen’s can do either, though we would safely say the accent is on the latter alternative. They have everything from beautiful Martin acoustics to electronic interface for your theremin, and a great deal in between including instruction. Talk about schools of rock.

Finalist- Instrumental Music Co.

Glenda's Party Cove owner Steve Thomson and his sales staff (from left) Maria Isabel Rodriguez, Gloria Sajche, and Denisse Teutla know how to throw a great shindig.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Glenda’s Party Cove owner Steve Thomson and his sales staff (from left) Maria Isabel Rodriguez, Gloria Sajche, and Denisse Teutla know how to throw a great shindig.

Party Supply Store

Glenda’s Party Cove 3319-A State St., 687-4500

It could have been a party grotto or a party harbor, but Glenda’s is a cove of fun stuff. “It’s very nice to win,” said owner Steve Thomson. “I guess they like what we have,” he said, explaining that balloons are the biggest kind of business they do. “But we have cards and all kinds of other items including a big selection of nice gifts.”

Finalist- Scavenge

Magazine and Newspaper Selection

Borders Books, Music, Movies & Cafe 900 State St., 899-3668; 7000 Marketplace Dr., Goleta, 968-1370

Gone is the big newsstand that quaintly graced the alleyway to the parking lot across from Pierre Lafond’s State Street eatery. In its place we have a couple big-store book dealers, and most notably Borders, which stocks everything from gossip rags to academic journals. It’s a lot harder to find the Village Voice, or the Sacramento Bee for that matter, than it used to be. But Borders compensates with a sunny browsing area free from nagging clerks and packed with a rich parade of the printed word.

Finalist- Read N’ Post

Mac Computer Repair

MacMechanic 216 E. Gutierrez St., 965-9722

We get to meet most of the most creative people in town,” said owner Michael Bishop, whose store is the only one in the county and one of just 170 stores in the country certified to do Apple repairs. “Not that they break very often, but we do most of the warranty work.” And the creative element? “Everybody-producers, musicians, artists-they all use Macs. And we’re the ones they go to for help.”

Finalist- Mac Shac

PC Repair

Make It Work 695-8550

You’ve seen the little red cars running around. You’ve heard they call themselves technology concierges, and they swear they can fix anything from a lowly BlackBerry to the mainframe that runs the Western World. Apparently our readers believe they can make these sometimes-cantankerous things all better, too.

Finalist- Channel Data Systems

Camera Shop

Samy’s Camera 614 Chapala St., 963-7269

A small chain that began in 1976 in Los Angeles and came up here not long ago to catch the Brooks business, Samy’s has spread throughout the southland. This is a wonderfully diverse operation, with labs and brand names and perennial customer satisfaction, according to our readers, who are always right and never lie.

Finalist- Russ Camera

Pico Iyer
Click to enlarge photo

Joe Bluhm

Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer - Renowned travel writer and essayist

Favorite bookstore?

Chaucer’s it has to be, for now and all eternity. We are truly blessed in Santa Barbara to have Tecolote and the Book Den and the Vedanta Temple bookstore-all wonderful places to get lost in-but Chaucer’s is without question the best bookstore in Southern and Central California. Even as every other independent bookstore across the nation closes down, it just gets bigger and better. Every time I go across the country on a book tour, I come back and realize that there’s no better bookstore anywhere, more discerning and more open, than Chaucer’s.”

event calendar sponsored by: