In this scary new world we’re living through right now, it’s hard to imagine anyone employing any version of that hackneyed old Dickens lead. But here goes: It was the best of times-for economic woes-and it was the worst of times-to cherish consumer dreams. With an election and a bank crisis looming, it’s even harder to imagine anyone in America not worriedly looking back over their shoulders. Deep concern is the new hope.
But dire tidings do not diminish the need for us to point out which goods and services surrounding us remain the best. In fact, with imperiled spending power comes the responsibility of wise shopping, and here in our annual Best Of readers’ poll, you’ll find your neighbors have pre-sifted everything consumable from dog kennels to optometrists, with more than 200 categories in between to guide you. We’ve even thrown in some pretty beaches, nice galleries, and camping spots for those best moments in your life-when your worst worries can be happily left behind.
• Bells to Whistles: Books, computer, video rental, gift shop, etc.
• Bumper to Bumper: Automotive
• Burgers to Bistro: Restaurants and food
• Butchers to Bakers: Markets, bakeries, sweets, etc.
• Caffeine to Cocktails: Drinks of all sorts
• Head to Toe: Clothing, spas, shoes, hair, sunglasses, etc.
• Highbrow to Getdown: Clubs, characters, music, dancing, etc.
• Jocks to Rocks: Sports stores, places, and things
• Roof to Roots: Furniture, appliances, gardening, etc.
• Roses to Rings: Weddings, jewelery, limo, and taxi
• Rugrats to Kittycats: Animals and kids
• Wants to Needs: Personal health and welfare